by Graham Haskin
I had one of those interesting maturity moments this week. I’m sure we’ve all had them (except Wade, whom I am going to start calling the gay Peter Pan). My work has implimented a 401(k) plan. We had a meeting on Tuesday with the representatives from… whatever company we’re going to be using. It was an odd feeling, sitting there, 26, thinking about planning for retirement in some 40+ years. It’s taken forever to get to 26, the years seem to crawl by, and I can barely picture myself at 30, much less at 65. Yet all around me lie the tell-tale signs of age. One of my friends (and a host of Beyond 6th) is getting ready to have a kid. Another friend, whom I have known since Junior School, has already had a kid. My friends and co-workers are busy buying houses and condos, settling down. Putting down roots, as it were. And yet I cannot imagine doing that yet. My concession, at the moment, is to participate in this 401(k) plan, so that when and if I reach 65, I will be able to stop working.
It’s also odd having “that” conversation. No, not the birds and bees one (or, the birds and birds, or the bees and bees, or the-birds-and-the-bees-and-the-birds-and-the-bees-and-don’t-judge-me-it’s-my-life-and-I’ll-do-what-I-want-with-it.) But the, “Hey <family member>, I’m putting you down as a beneficiary should I suffer an untimely death, but don’t kill me, there’s nothing in the account yet” conversation.
Can I not picture it because I haven’t met the right girl yet? Perhaps it’s because there’s still so much I want to see and do and learn. I’m not ready to stop, to sit down and not get back up. What do I mean by that? It’s hard to describe. There’s some part of me that feels that if I were to buy a house now, it would be the end. The end of my travels. And that’s just not for me yet. As J.R.R. Tolken wrote, “The road goes ever on and on.” And I know that’s not true, that even if I owned a house, I could still journey on and simply have a “base”. It’s just hard to rationalize what I think in my mind with what I feel in my heart, hard to convince myself that it wouldn’t be the first of many concessions. This is what wanderlust is. Never feeling like you can stop.
But back to the begining, growing up, growing older. I think the reason I’m writing about this is because I don’t feel like I’m part of it. Certainly I know that I’m getting older, but I don’t feel like it. I feel much the same at 26 as I did at 20. And, aside from not being in full time school anymore, that feels much as I did at 16. Maybe I was just old before my time, but there’s a definite disconnect between what I see in my friends and what I feel. Like what they’re doing is an “older” thing than where I am now. Or a younger one.
But that’s not a bad thing. It’s nice to feel like I still have a purpose, undiscovered, aside from continuing the human race along. I still have something to do. I’m not going to stop yet, I’m just not ready. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find something amazing. Maybe I’ll discover some long lost treasure to astound and amaze. All I know is I don’t want to come to the final end and feel like I didn’t make the best use of this time I have. Until I find my purpose here, I’ll continue to wander and be terrifying at darts… Putting a sharp object in my hands is a bad idea, I play for keeps.
To end with another quote from Tolken, “Not all those who wander are lost.” For now I am more than happy to continue wandering.