Here’s what I find maddening about life: it never looks like what you think it will.
The most obvious example of this is traveling, where your idea of what a destination will look (and possibly feel) like is influenced by hundreds if not thousands of visual impressions captured by those who have been there before you. A gorgeous, brilliantly composed shot fueled by years of photographic know-how and the sweat of a thousand flunkies doing anything and everything from holding up bounce cards to shagging unwanted passersby away from the frame is setting you up for a huge disconnect when you bring your own self to the Eiffel Tower or Times Square or that place where Mary Tyler Moore threw her hat up in the air. Heck, even Flickr can mess you up.
Lest you think I’m slamming the advance team for their collusion in some kind of cheap, bait-and-switch, oversell, I’m not. The disconnect can work the other way, too, where you think something is going to be mundane and it ends up blowing your mind in the good way.
All I’m saying is that all the description in the world cannot prepare you for what a thing really is when you get there: love; New York; risotto; adulthood. Because all of the description in the world is leaving something out, is leaving a lot of things out, both of necessity (you can’t record every impression you’re having, ergo you can’t share your exact experience with the world) and design, which is where (we hope) stuff like art and music and all their expressive cousins come in. The more I think about it, and I try not to, because this sort of stuff makes my head hurt, the more I believe that my recent stabs at “poetry” are attempts at delivering serving suggestions for various things I’m going through. Translation can be tough stuff, and relieving myself of the explicit i-dotting and t-crossing that’s built into a regular essay frees me up to express the heart of the experience.
Or hey, maybe it’s just me being lazy!
Either way, because I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately, and because it’s a Monday after a two-day period of relative non-work where I did a whole lot more reflecting, I felt the need to express this. The destination may surprise you. It will probably surprise you. When you get to what it is you’ve been working toward, a primary relationship, a VP title, your own business, a gold statuette, it will not feel like or seem like or look like what you thought it might on the way there. I’ve been struggling to find clarity for nigh on two years now, and even as it’s starting to come to me (albeit in SHORT bursts), it doesn’t feel at all like I thought it might. It feels good, but it doesn’t feel like done. I thought it would feel more like done.
Amazingly, I’m okay with that in a way I most certainly was not the first time I saw Trafalgar Square or high school or Sea Monkeysâ„¢. Chalk it up to experience, I guess. If you pay attention, experiences can be additive, not random.
And you start to see serving suggestions for what they are: one possible thing among many, one fellow traveler’s stab at expression, one little taste of what’s maybe/possibly, kinda/sorta yet to come…