A post by this fellow, Anonymole, got me thinking about experience and the poor use I make of my life.
I have never had anything that would qualify, in most people’s books, as “experiences.” I have never traveled more than 75 miles from home. Never camped or drove across the company. No concerts. No bungee jumping or mountain climbing or backpacking through Thailand. I’ve never been on a family vacation. I’ve never lived alone. I don’t even drive.
Good fortune located me relatively near a major city, so that I at least had the opportunity to earn my graduate degree there. Ah yes, my worthless degree, depreciating by the day.
My first impulse is to blame it all on my excessively overprotective parents who stunted me for life and from whom I inherited many neuroses. But then again, my older sister had no trouble learning to drive, finding a job in the field she studied, getting married, and buying a house. Me, I sit at home with my stuffed animals. Thank God I am in a committed relationship or I’d really be screwed. And honestly, have I not reached the age when it’s time to stop blaming my parents? First, they never had any means to begin with, and second, at this stage of the game it’s my own damn fault.
I don’t know what it is that separates people who have the strength and spirit to go out there and do whatever they like from those who cannot even muster the courage to take the bus by themselves. How I navigated around that big city by myself—though within a specifically defined area—when I was in graduate school is absolutely beyond me. I have nothing in common with that self anymore except fear and insecurity. All I can do is sit by and enviously watch other people, you know, live.
I could be tempted to offer the excuse that I suffered from undiagnosed epilepsy until I was thirty. My extreme fear of attacks prevented me from trying to do things on my own. There was a period of time when I could not even enter a grocery store because I had several of what turned out to be seizures in them, among other places. But even then, there are people with much worse problems who are able to succeed. Oh, poor me, I have psychic seizures, I cannot go out—yet there are plenty of people with poorly controlled tonic-clonics who do as they please and have great success. So it’s clearly a question of courage and will, both of which I seem to lack.
(At least I have the good sense to stay off the road, though.)
To make myself feel better, I tell myself that the seizures fried my brain. Yup, that must be it. Although my shit retail job didn’t help either. I leave behind a trail of dead brain cells everywhere I go. Yup yup yup.
Some of my ignorance is simply unavoidable. Having never traveled, it’s quite embarrassing to be seated at a table with others (the future in-laws, in particular) who travel around the world regularly. Places whose names I’ve only see on a map or heard on NPR roll right off their tongues, as though they were merely saying they went to the next town over.
I would love to be able to claim over them a massive intellect and knowledge, but I cannot make that claim, either; not by any means because of theirs, but because of my own failure to maximize the great intellectual opportunities I do have. Instead I sit there dumbly, and pray no one asks me about my family and where would I like to go on our honeymoon. That’s another issue entirely: asking me about things neither I nor my family can afford, or when I’m going to get my passport. I don’t even drive the one mile to work, and yet you ask me where I’d like to vacation?
But don’t I have twenty-fours in a day, the same as everyone else does? I have no right to complain to anyone but myself if I don’t make good use of them. Take even this little blog, for instance. I haven’t posted in over two weeks. You wanna know why? Because I’ve gotten addicted to Mario Kart Tour on my phone and I spend all my time in the evening playing that instead of writing. I feel like an idiot for even admitting that.
I can only blame my parents for so long, because no one can smother your mind unless you let them. One has the right—and should wield the power—to fight for the sovereignty of one’s mind and imagination. If I give that up not to them, nor anyone else, but to a phone app, or whatever stupid thing that takes up my time, whose fault is that but my own? And I can only blame seizures for so long. I had them all through college and managed to excel. Now all of a sudden they prevent me from using my head? If I’m not leaving the house by myself anyway, why can’t I use that time to do something intellectual? Oh, I remember why: because I’m a lazy piece of shit.
The diplomas on my wall silently mock me. What a waste of a good education. I’ve forgotten more than I learned. Every minute of the day, I could choose to do something other than whatever nonsense I happen to be doing at that moment. I cannot help what I do at work, but I can help all the rest of the time. Hell, my job doesn’t even require all that much brain power. I don’t need to stay up to 2:00am trolling and fighting people in the YouTube comment sections. I could try reading some of the hundred books waiting to be read between my bookshelf and my Kindle. Instead of staring into a magnifying mirror and hunting for blackheads to dig out of my face, perhaps I could try, I dunno, learning the state capitals or the presidents.
Related: In Search of Lost Knowledge