Re-reading old journals, many people are struck how they keep writing about the same things and nothing seems to change. For better or worse. That truth resonated with me as I read something I wrote at 27 years old on a plane from Egypt to India. This would mean more to the people who know me, but except for some inevitable life changes (like eventually buying a car, a house, a stereo), almost everything else is still true. Yet another affirmation that all we dream of, we hope for, we desire, is that which we essentially are and always have been.
As I begin to step out of this 4-year journal, I wonder what has changed? What has stayed the same? Well, my hair is short now and thinner on top, I’ve stopped wearing suspenders and overalls and torn dungaree jackets, my dress is a bit more respectable and my nails kept trim. I still don’t eat meat, prefer brown rice and vegetables and tamari. A bit looser about spending money for movies and records and even dinners out. Still making friends with women easier than men. A bit more self-confident having begun the journey from my potential as a teacher to successfully actualizing it and establishing myself in that field. A bit frustrated in achieving satisfying musical expression, but much further along. More solid in my zazen practice, more tolerant and open to my parent’s generation and less enchanted by the irresponsible hippy life. Still open to taking risks and new travels (this trip!) but finding more and more pleasure in the world of hard work and creative day-to-day routine. Less yearning for the life of eternal wandering or cabin in the woods seclusion. Strong feelings about beginning a family. Still the sense that I can accomplish what I set out to do, with a clearer picture of my responsibility in this life. Sometimes longing for more close friends, still keeping one eye out for the ideal school-spiritual-artistic-community-in-the-country. Haven’t yet bought a car or a house or a stereo. Completely uninterested in taking any drugs, a socially acceptable tolerance of alcohol, though still trouble finishing a beer myself. Still feeling in touch with the dreams of my childhood that my teachers and parents predicted would get swallowed up in the reality of the adult life. (They haven’t). A continued deep affection for children and animals, a growing appreciation of plants. Still have never planted a garden and often at a loss in the world of things and machines (though my wife’s aspirin-cap stories to the contrary, have gotten better at trying to fix things and am not as intimidated as before). Still enjoy hitchhiking and sleeping out. Have kept my love of basketball and dancing, especially to James Brown. Still available for any foolery that comes up—pajama parties, games of sardines etc. My feet keep heading for parks and a day’s exploring of nowhere in particular satisfies as much as anything I know. Still love reading books, movies have become a steady diet. Still get uneasy sometimes in the presence of people I respect who I want to like me. Still love to be alone and invisible, still love to be the center of attention. I still make the same mistakes over and over again, am still graced with the same remembrances of the absolute beauty of this life. At once, not a single regret for a single moment of these past 27 years and the knowledge that I’ve achieved nothing worth mentioning and must persevere in the face of how much is left to do.
That about sums it up. Am still a half-a-beer guy, love to play games with the grandkids, have more women friends than men, read books and watch movies and occasionally, am still graced with remembrance of beauty. On to more of the same.