old souls and in-between souls

A lot of poems and art that I love are about youth and age and the space in between them. This year I’m trying to familiarize myself more fully with poetry and poets that excite me in Chicago, and I’ve realized that a lot of the poets are younger than me, or around my age but (what I perceive to be) way more accomplished, and I’m surprised at just how old that makes me feel.

You learn as you grow older to put things in a certain order. You go to college, or don’t. You get to take yourself seriously, or not, and you burst your bubble of seriousness, or silliness, and you modulate the way you talk about the people you used to be. You’re ashamed of them, or just amused that they were you, and you waver forever about how seriously to take yourself, because you’ll be some other person shaking your head at yourself soon enough. That wavering becomes the defining condition of being yourself. It’s not much of a life story but it’s yours.

And: you get past being a person with certain inexhaustible resources before even knowing what they were. Your hormonal willingness to take risks; your capacity for late nights; your propensity for uncompromising pronouncements; your metabolism. You drink a lot of coffee and try to vibrate on the same frequency as that former person. You surround yourself with people who are like the people you were around then, only older, and worried about different things. When you’ve been out of college for longer than you were in it, you have to admit that you’re someone else even if you don’t have a neat frame to put that person in. You might not know what you’ve accomplished, not being graded on it. You’re a person who tries, at least. (A for effort. You hope.)

You’re what you do for money but you’re what you do for love much more. It’s not really up to you how much they converge. Thinking that it’s up to you is a privilege of youthful idealism, or else it’s a trick that you play on yourself to love everything, even your compromises. Which isn’t to say that you’re anything but lucky.

I have this thing on my phone called Timehop and it shows me what I added to the internet on that day in history. This is a good way to be reminded of little anniversaries (like: as of yesterday, Nick’s had his bike for 5 years!) and the weather and the places I’ve been. I’m from North Carolina but all the pictures I’ve taken there are now six and seven years old. It’s strange that those places still feel so present. It’s even stranger to try and project what will be different six years from now. There will be things I care about that I’ve never heard of now. I’ll maybe be closer to figuring out how seriously to take myself, for whatever value of seriousness applies. I’ll have some other inexhaustible Inner Resources, as one poem I like about being young and bored or old and jaded has said. I’ll have read some more, at least.