Flying Through the Storm
Naturally, every major milestone in life comes with a period of transition: the passing of one state into another which may or may be caused by a stressor or a achievement. In either case, reflection is inevitable. More often than not, the reflection drives me to the brink of insanity, somewhere between the points of meaningful, constructive thought and complete loss in the unimaginable and impossible. Most recently, this was even more perplexing than usual because of the vivid dreams caused by my malaria medication.
Some people meticulously prepare themselves adequately for an upcoming transition. I don’t. I used to, but by some twisted blend of fait, vicarious learning and more than my fair share of luck, I’ve come to realize that preparation isn’t always the best approach to something foreign. Sometimes, the only preparation you need is an open and keen mind and a consciously calculated sense of responsibility and irresponsibility - the former pushes you in new directions and the later is the key to physically making it there.
What usually follows is a flurry of measurement. Measurement of past achievement and lessons learned. To this point, I’ve learned that the most important defining characteristics are the intangibles. Sure, money brings about opportunity and so forth… but the real pearl lies somewhere hidden in your perception and experiences of these opportunities. I’ve heard time and time again that naive and simple people firmly believe that their current way of thinking is a perfect reflection of how they’ve always thought - people who voted for Bush a second time would later say I knew it wouldn’t turn out that way. Well shit, it must be nice to know everything… Achievement raises your spirit and status. Failure raises your awareness and intellect.
The intangibles are knowing that you could have died riding a motorcycle in a mountain range, that someone close to you knows exactly what you’re thinking without so much as a nervous flinch, that you consciously made the decision to allow a man to wrap a python around your neck, or that you are now capable of inducing a deeper and more serene sense of calm than you ever thought possible. The intangibles are the take-away, the overall perception of the past. Lucky for us, perception is subjective; it is your unique representation of an external environment that you recreate using a mosaic of your chemical and physical senses… with a fair amount of unconscious guesswork sprinkled in. These intangibles, therefore, come from the tangibles but have a deeper meaning stitched into the spine - the meaning that you associated with that tangible sensation. Running your fingers through a lock of hair is equally capable of triggering thoughts of comfort in a time of stress as it is able to result an overwhelming sense of familiarity and connection with another person (or dog for that matter). But its just a string of protein that causes vibrations picked up by the Meisner’s receptors in your skin. A wave of electrical impulses that can change your immediate state of emotion in seconds because of some meaning that you’ve attached to it.
When I was walking across the stage in my Birkenstocks, I wasn’t thinking about the heat of the gown or the brightness of the lights. That sweaty-palmed handshake was more than just a congratulations from and old man in a velvet beret. That sensation marked the point of transition. With or without preparation. But with my eyes looking up from a map, my headphones playing my favorite song, luck and support from my family, having my head in the clouds for a while won’t be so bad.