A soul made of Austin

I made a trip out to Austin this weekend for my sister's 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Neesha!) and happily spent the rest of the weekend catching up with friends and all around soaking in Austin yet again. I'm not really sure why - maybe it's the familiar sights, the people, memories of the first twangs of independence, or just straight up nostalgia for everything I felt while living here, but I feel like a totally different person here. Different priorities, different focus, different actions. Better? I'm not sure. But certainly different.

I got the chance to catch up with my cousin, who came from LA to surprise my sister at her party (which was awesome, because she never saw it coming). Always an interesting experience, my extended family are as close to me as my immediate family, so it's always good to have a long catch up session to see the state of life we're each in. We're members of a large family, of which we (myself, my sister, my cousin in LA and his younger brother) are the final four of our generation to jump on the married-with-kids bandwagon. Needless to say, a few drinks and a nice night outside often leads to introspective life-goal conversations.

Which brings me to my (if you're poked around this blog ever, you'll recognize immediately) self-introspective point of the post. So if you check up on this for the sillier posts, just click on one of the non-personal labels on the left and look at something like 1-Ups made out of radishes.

Edit: post finished 10 days later, on 09/22/09, 12:58am.

Well, insert a ten day gap here, after becoming distracted by various things. The point I was attempting to get to is an existential one (of course). That is - as we grow up, it seems to be increasingly more difficult to focus and make decisions (or at least for me), because of all the factors that weigh in. Should I go out tonight or stay home and work? Should I get another cat? Should I sell my house? Should I drop everything and travel the world? Certainly lots of valid thoughts, of wide variety.

But really (and maybe this is the programmer in me), it seems that we should be able to fixate on one heading - some direction in which to frame what we're doing, right? Otherwise, we're just doing things for the sake of what you feel like doing at the moment - does that get us anywhere? In the world of only immediate gratification (to take a line from a friend here in Dallas), the most effective method would be to shoot up heroin all day until you died. You'd be damn happy in the process, right?

But of course (or maybe not, depending on who you are), there's more to be desired. But what is that? I sat out underneath a light sprinkle and muggy weather in the Austin night and posed the question to my cousin - where are you going? In a perfect world, where do you want to see yourself in 5 years? 10?


Huhn. Absolutely valid, certainly. But is that the only focus that it takes? Can you plan out what you want in the future, or rather what you think your future self will want to be happy? Surely there are some things that can be stated for sure - "I want to grow up and have a family", "I want to create the great American video game", "I want to help people and leave a positive impression on the world", "I want to have the ability to laugh at life until the day I die." The programmer in me wants an end goal that I can work towards - some level of focus that frames the actions that I do on a day to day basis. Something that when I'm sitting trying to figure out what to do becomes a beacon for where you want your life to go, "Is this helping me to _______?" Answers and focus must be a good thing, right?

I wonder, though (not that I necessarily believe it, but an interesting concept nonetheless) if it is the case that you simply can't predict accurately enough what your future self will want? When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be an Astronaut, then a fighter pilot, and a Karate instructor, an artist, a husband, a father, a creator of video games, a musician, a college orientation advisor, a volunteer. So many different things that have shifted focus around. Can we really predict ourselves well enough to pick one thing to focus our actions around? Or is the moving target just too fast? Does the volatility of our mortality make it worth the effort, or should you focus on the smaller victories?

I don't know, but being on a blank canvas surrounded by inspiration is both extraordinary and gut wrenching. There are still days when I want to be something specific:

A creator
A husband
An inspiration
A father
An aide

For now, I think I'll work towards happy and see where it takes me.

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