The Future: Mine and Yours

Originally Published 7/23/13

My future has been on my mind recently. Of course isn’t everyone’s? If it isn’t your own future then it’s that of your children or your friends. I have no children, and most of my friends have secure futures so it is my own which provides the greatest potential. I have achieved a four year degree with little debt, shrinking all the time with the help of my gentleman friends, and so I have a base from which to spread out into the world. A hundred things appeal to me, including a pilot’s license, bar tending, massage therapy, property ownership, stewardess, counselor, lab tech, phlebotomist, X-Ray tech, or simply homeowner, somewhere easy to live. I recently returned to Montana to my hometown where I revisited my past. I chased garter snakes in the creek and watched tadpoles skitter through sunny, fresh water. I heard the boom of rifles and the chatter of old friends, I sat up late in the smoke from the fire, full of fresh raspberries from family gardens and marshmallows and lukewarm water.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for my family. Having watched healthy, if unusual relationships on all sides my entire life, I always value the input they have on my life. My mother knows everything which, as I mentioned before, does not make her happy. Despite that disappointment and worry, she has been able to show me love and acceptance. It was a real trip down memory lane. I even drove past my old house, noted the missing fences and trees and the new railings and flower beds. I wistfully wished to see the inside. I haven’t seen it in a few years and I wonder how my childhood memories have been broken up and redistributed. Of course I talk with all this nostalgia as a person in their early twenties. I have had barely time to generate nostalgia. We even had a conversation about that this weekend, sitting in the smoke, illuminated by the glow from the coals and drinking hot cocoa doctored with some home made khalua. I don’t have nostalgic feelings for things. I feel it for places and smells, but not for items. We postulated that since I had all the important people in my life still present, mom and Dad, grandparents on both sides, cousins and uncles and aunts all in tact and just a phone call or email away, since I had everyone in my present and free to make new memories I had no desire or need to cling to old memories.

I can see my father slowly taking on aspects of his own. For the first time I thought of him as “Poppa Bear”  because the big felt coat he was wearing, plus his new beard (in the military for years and only allowed a mustache, he has now taken to varying and increasingly elaborate beards), gave him a uniform, and imposing presence. Part of that, however, is the bulk that inevitably comes with a sedentary profession and a rich lifestyle. In photos of my father’s father from 25 years ago show that same tendency and now I can see the stiffness and discomfort leeching in. Someday he will be barely able to get out of his easy chair, like his father now. I am kept abreast of every ailment in my entire family by a grandmother who makes it her responsibility to accumulate and disperse family gossip. It finally occurred to me that in another 25 years the surgeries and scans and tests that my parents’ parents are undergoing will be their burden to bear, and by extension mine. For the first time I am confronted with the mortality of those closest to me and I haven’t had a chance to process it. We agreed over the weekend that I suffer from an invincibility complex and the fact of my mortality and fragility has not yet gelled, as it were. That extends to my loved ones and for the first time, it is being shaken.

I refuse to allow that. I refuse to allow myself to behave too carefully. While I have no intention of exposing myself or my loved ones to unnecessary risks, I will continue to ride my bicycle in traffic, fast. I will continue to climb rocks and ride horses and go shooting and walk around in this beautiful city after dark because you cannot mitigate all risk and there are some things worth risking for.

This weekend was a weekend of dreams from the past and of the future. Old voices calling my name as if not a day had gone by and ghosts of what may be rising before my eyes, waiting only for the time to be ripe. The drive from my hometown is fairly long and I took a detour along the way to an old property that has potential. I drank wine and wandered to the lake shore and dreamed dreams, drawing imaginary rows of lettuce and tomatoes and raspberries and lying the ground for the orchard and the greenhouse. I dreamed of a day when I am free from the pressure to raise capital, when my only decisions are whether to weed the garden or pick berries first, or just how long I wish to lay on the dock before starting supper.

When the time is ripe and my generous friends have helped me achieve my dreams, I will open this space to children of all ages who need a space to be away from it all. No drugs, no alcohol, no beatings, no hatred or anger. It will be a place for healing and love and some hard work and the rewards that come from it. Tangible rewards that you can smell and taste, not stock options and a health plan and maybe the promise that if you work hard enough someday you might maybe be able to afford a home of your own. This is part of my dream. There are many parts to my dreams. They include travel all over the world and owning several spaces from which I draw passive income to fund my dream in the long term. My dreams cover learning new things like French and classical guitar and flight and cultivation and history and more science. My dreams include a family and a retreat from the hustle of today’s city life, without being cut off from it. I am young and have time but I am impatient and wish for everything right now. If I ever seem impatient, it is because I have let myself slip and am thinking about those dreams and how long it’s going to take me. At times like those, I simply must remind myself that it is in the achieving of those goals that I will become mature enough to truly appreciate the fruits of my efforts.

Haha, I go on again, trying to paint pictures with words but jumbling the pages with metaphors and imagery that doesn’t always fit. The sun rises on another day and people begin to stir. I can smell morning, though it is tinged with the ammonia smell of a downtown too long between showers. I look forward to going home to a warm shower and a soft bed. It will take some time. I will be home and in bed roughly two hours from now, likely not asleep just yet, I will be solving a crossword puzzle which provides just enough mental stimulation, but not so much that I stay awake. I will dream all day, strange dreams of celebrities or being chased or of family, and in the early evening, just as it begins to cool, I will wake up again, hungry for food and for the cool of the evening, and for the comfort of solitude and a good book.