April 24th, 2013
Not too long ago, I realized that most of the first 30 years of my life were spent trying to get a handle on who I was. I don’t think that’s too uncommon. Sometime in my late twenties, I finally felt like I had really figured it out. The details are only important and relevant to myself, so there’s no point in elaborating here. But once I felt good about that, I realized what my next task was: finding my place. Now that I knew who I was, I needed to figure out where I fit into the big picture, to find my place in the universe (or just society if I didn’t feel quite so ambitious). That, I figured, would be the ever-changing and always evolving purpose of the rest of my life, especially considering I’ve almost never felt like I belonged in any particular place yet always desperately wanted to be a part of something. I thought that sounded like a pretty good set up, too: spend the rest of my life secure in who I was and exploring the world until I felt like I belonged; adjust and repeat as necessary.
I never guessed that I would figure that out, too, by the time I had just barely turned 30.
I wish I could say this happened in a single, epiphanic moment. But it didn’t. It happened through a series of events that could only be described as simply living my life. It turns out when you don’t force these things, they start becoming clearer than ever. It happened when I was at a bar having a great conversation with friends. It happened when I was listening to music at home and reading an email someone sent about how they enjoyed one of my comics. It happened when I was laughing out loud in a movie theater and when I was feeling bored and lonely by myself on a Friday night and when I was writing a song while sitting on my bed. It happened when I was reading about amazing things people were doing around the world on the Internet and watching inspiring TED talks and when I was at a Ben Folds Five concert where I felt such a connected sense of community that I actually felt like I was a part of the band… That’s because, in that moment with the thousands of other people in the room, I was.
The key phrase there is “in that moment,” because I realized that my place is right here, right now. At the risk of sounding a little contrived, my place is in life, on Earth, as part of the human experiment. My place is in the endless give-and-take connection of humanity itself. And if what I’m writing here comes off as a bit overdramatic, I don’t care; the feeling I got when I realized this was incredibly dramatic, so it’s only appropriate. And if it sounds a bit broad, that’s because the realization itself was pretty broad but brutally simple, as most of the best revelations are: it’s a huge privilege to even be alive. It’s actually a goddamn miracle that any of us exist at all, no matter where we came from. And to have evolved as a species that took basic instincts to survive and reproduce and over thousands of years shaped them into art, society, culture, conflict, ethics, values and everything in between… How ridiculously and legitimately mind-blowing is that? Read the rest of this entry »