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State of My Emotion Address


Why Try to Change Me Now
Fiona Apple (Cover)

I'm sentimental
So I walk in the rain
I've got some habits
Even I can't explain
Go to the corner
I end up in Spain
Why try to change me now

I sit and daydream
I've got daydreams galore
Cigarette ashes
There they go on the floor
Go away weekends
Leave my keys in the door
Why try to change me now

Why can't I be more conventional
People talk
People stare
So I try
But that can't be
'Cause I can't see
My strange little world
Just go passing me by

So let people wonder
Let 'em laugh
Let 'em frown
You know I'll love you
Till the moon's upside down
Don't you remember
I was always your clown
Why try to change me now

Don't you remember
I was always your clown
Why try to change me
Why try to change me now

In my scheduled bout with the blues yesterday I told myself anew that I must change. Change my life and the way I live it; my habits to avert their usually ill consequences; and my general perspective of things, to bring out what is essential and set aside the trivial and the childish. Now, as you can see, that is a pretty tall order prescribed to someone who was nursing a terrible hang over and feeling rather sleepy the whole rainy day.--The things we tell ourselves when we hate ourselves, of course. It gives you the illusion that you're in control and that there is hope even for your hopeless self. So, as I have learned to tell myself countless times since the big break, I'll surrender this one day again. Take it, and I'll try again the next day. But yesterday's next day is today and the skies ain't getting any brighter.

I wonder if I can keep this up. Such freedom and leisure, which are easily interchangeable with laziness and idleness, or such habits, which by no long stretch of the imagination can be called addictions. One test I sometimes submit myself to so I can assess myself is to act as a witness to the crimes I do. If I look at myself from a stranger's eyes, what do I see? 

For the most part, I do not see this young man do anything substantial in his waking days, and his nights are no more productive than destructive. I see a professional who took a break from work in order to chase a star probably he alone could see, striking vain a dream that now seems more like a whimsical fantasy than an organized plan. I can't see any more sense of purpose and force of aspiration in him--a goal, a hope, a vision--today than there was when he was younger. He remains dependent on other people, and probably won't do very well left to fend for himself and to fund his extravagances. I can't see, in short, what this guy is doing with himself and his life. He ain't got the tiniest clue. And he probably doesn't know that, too. It has to be noted that he generally seems happy though.

There it is again--Why am I so insecure? Why do I keep on comparing myself with others? Easy: because I am surrounded by successful professionals who have earned their keep and know where they are going and what they want. I see around me people who have "figured it out," them high-minded and future-thinking people who have short- and long-term plans, have invested in real estate or in foreign exchange, have international scholarships or pending naturalization applications, and if they are not already married are already engaged (how can you be certain? how will you know?). Or them who go for a run religiously with their neat sneakers and matching outfits, them who manage to stay home and have dinner there for the most part of the week instead of wining and dining out, getting drunk elsewhere,--them bureaucrats of what is considered to be today's good, clean life. But good's no good sometimes, though that doesn't mean it's bad, too. Or maybe good's not good enough for me.

Let it be known however that while I may be happy and have nothing to complain--on the contrary I wish you all the blessings I have--I could be happier. The trouble with experiencing happiness almost all your life is not knowing how or when to be content. I sometimes teach my students what everyone else keeps on saying: that there will always be "something more," that that small void in your heart or that nagging voice in your head will lead you to what you without knowing truly seek--that there will always be something missing and that missing piece is always just out there, waiting for you to find it and claim it. In other words, there will always be a better and happier version of you, and thus the goal of the philosopher, as a seeker of both love and happiness, is to throw himself out into the open spaces of the unknown, leaving the securities of home for a perilous journey of the soul he alone can take. Yes, yes. But what if home's such a wonderful place, and the great elsewhere's just an illusion made up by the unhappy and discontent? I'm rationalizing already, and missing the point.

When we were younger, we were always asked What do you want to be when you grow up? My problem is that I am already all grown up and I'll be drumming my fingers on the desk if you ask me that question now. Like anyone else who was still optimistic about their future, I had some notion of what I wanted to do, most of which I realized later to be not what I really wanted, some of which I found out to be not for me, etc., that sort of thing we in our twenties come to know in our trial and error phase in life. Thinking about it, just as I did not have one great friend or a "best friend," I never did have one clear goal (I excused myself then by saying I wanted to be in business, but that was only because my parents were business people).

Perhaps, that explains it. I remember that on my first day in high school these words were posted on the back wall of our classroom: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. I though that was inspirational then, even pretty profound. But all that has been replaced with what I have learned in philosophy: BEGIN WITHOUT MINDING THE END. Because you'll get there someday. Because there's no point in leaving if you already know where you're going--that would just be like a trip, a routine exercise of getting from point A to point B. And because everybody else is like that. The only trouble is you'll look like a fool as you wander lost on the clean paths people with purpose know so well.

I'll share with you the words inscribed on a small plate which I have faced everyday for the past two years or so here on my writing desk. It's a line from Emerson that reads: “DO NOT GO WHERE THE PATH MAY LEAD. GO INSTEAD WHERE THERE IS NO PATH AND LEAVE A TRAIL."

But of course I'm rationalizing. It ain't that pretty in reality, you know.

 . . .


  1. You're not alone in your journey. God will keep you company... -Yvaughn

  2. I pray you're right.


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