For the longest time I have been living my life as if everything I know would disappear after one year. If you know the environment that I live in I think that's not too hard to imagine. Every year interns come, and every next year those interns leave again. Every year that I'm in Japan I'm not sure if I want to stay or leave, and in the past I have felt very strongly about leaving this country and never looking back, essentially starting a new life somewhere else. When I first came to Japan, that is exactly what I did. I left behind everything in Holland. No friends to help me, no language skill to fall back on, not even social standards were the same. It was all fresh and new, and it felt great. I'm sure this single extremely positive event is what drove me to see every year as a closed chapter. Until now.
'It never ends'. It's actually a quote from the Watchmen comics and/or movie. Life is not a movie. There is no easy ending, no grand finale, no big explosion that ends it all. Life goes on and we need to learn to live with that. After messing up your life in a grandiosely epic way never before seen, there is still a tomorrow, and you still have to consider the consequences of your actions. Similarly, you can tell yourself all you want that this 'chapter' in your life ends here, right now, but it doesn't. It doesn't ever end. There's always a tomorrow that connects you to yesterday, no matter what kind of lifestyle you've got.
Recently I've been trying hard to accept this part of life. I am by nature a person who loves the epic and the dramatic, and as such I look for epic events in my life. Closures. Grand finales. Things that blow up, end, and then never come back. But it's never quite like that. Even if you think that something lies in your past and will never come back, you're never quite sure. Since I've come to Japan I've had more than seven or eight 'endings', or what counted as endings in my brain, after each of which I was sure that this time my life would change. Life didn't change, but I changed. I became more 'normal'. I've come to accept that life always connects one event to the other, and that there is no clear ending or beginning anywhere. It's a rather un-epic reality that all of us aspiring world-changers will have to accept.
I don't mean to say that this is bad. Not at all. In fact, I have been feeling great recently because I'm embracing this fact. Case in point: company party tonight. I really did not want to go. I've been spending a lot of time with other people and I am really missing a bit of self-time, so I wanted to keep tonight to clean up my life a little bit, both physically and mentally. So I was planning to silently back out of the party altogether, but just when I was about to leave work my boss came to me and asked me if I would join tonight. "Will you join tonight? You'll join tonight, right? You'll definitely join!". Argh... So I went. And I had fun. It was a great night, in fact. Of course the fact that my boss tried so hard to convince me is part of the reason I went, but another part has to do with the never-ending part of this post. I figured that since I'm going to be here for a while longer I might as well go and enjoy myself, cause I'll be around these people for who knows how long. It's a change in time-perspective.
I remember blogging once, long ago, about how I was proud of myself not to have any idea of where I would be five years from now. I can still understand why I felt that way, but there is an underlying way of thinking that made me feel proud to think that way. The premise is very simple: if you know where you will be five years from now, then your life is boring. It's the way I thought about it when I first wrote those feelings down on my blog, and I think I still feel the same way. But boring-ness or exciting-ness is only the surface layer of the real issue. What's below is your goals and convictions; it's what you really want to do with your life. Sometimes a clear goal will make your life boring, at least to some people's standards. And similarly, a lack of goals altogether could make your life so random that it's in fact quite exciting. I think it's important to not only focus on the boring/exciting aspect of this, but also to look at the lower levels, and to look at how we perceive ourselves and our goals. If looked at from this perspective the boring/exciting can be seen as the effect of a cause, and if the cause can be analyzed and altered then a different effect can be achieved.
This may sound a bit vague. What I am trying to say is that, when considering one's perspective on life, one cannot think of life as the current 'chapter', or the current moment, because that would blind us to the long-term causal relationships that can be seen when looking at life as one long continuous string of events. It all stacks up. No information is lost, even if it might not be available to you at a specific moment. Life never forgets, and you shouldn't either.
(Side note: I have noticed several times now that my posts might be seen as religious if one replaced the word 'life' with the word 'God'. Peculiar?)