Adios, 2013

I’ve never found a good way to express my bafflement of the passage of time. Just trying to answer the question ‘what is time?’ is trouble enough. But yet it goes on, passes us by, even in years like this past one, which for me was one of relative stasis. There were no great adventures, no decisive moves; just the steady rhythms of life somewhere in the vast white north of Minnesota. It’s been an interesting test. I’m a born dreamer, one who often lives in places where I am not, both real and imagined. I’ve always had a tendency to wander, whether down the darkened streets of my neighborhood or through worlds that exist only in my head. There is so much to see, so many little corners to explore and make sense of, and that force has driven most of my decisions to date. But that life up in the clouds of my mind has its drawbacks, and obsessive fascination with the outside can quickly become anchorless, and turn paradoxically inward into self-absorption. And so my retreat to Duluth has, paradoxically, had me fighting against that. So I started to take a few older obligations more seriously. I became a more active citizen. I wrote a novel, and I started a blog; neither one is likely to reshape the world much, but they’ve gotten a few things across, a process that I hope to continue. When it comes to Big Questions About Life, I’ve never been in a better place, and that has started to filter down into other places. Lingering anxieties seem far less important than they once did, old worries rendered trivial by new wisdom and evolving thought, often startlingly simple in its clarity. I had to go home to be set free, but it might, finally, be happening. My twenty-fourth year on this earth will, most likely, involve another venture outward, in one way or another. It’s time. There is no grand vision this time, but that now seems more like a triumph than a failing. It will be less in the ideal and more in the real. I’ll simply ride the moods and try to seize the opportunities that come along. Many of the constants will still be there: Duluth, the family gatherings, the little routines, the old friends worth holding on to, and (of course!) the hockey. I know plenty of people will laugh at the notion of someone my age feeling old, but as the glory days fade into history, I’ll admit to a few moments of angst. This is especially true for someone who’s subjected his own early years to a brutally intense self-examination, and someone who can’t forget the ‘what ifs.’ Still, the time has come, and I’m past the point where I can pretend to be a kid anymore. The good news is that those glory days don’t have to end. That doesn’t mean we don’t grow up; no, we do have to mature, and the march of time will trample anyone who stays for too long. But we can always go back, and as long as we have that, well, what more do we need? And so we head back, for one last time in 2013, for one last evening of youthful delight, a moment frozen in the frigid Duluth night. We carry it with us, unable to forget, no matter how far we wander. I’ll let the last song on the presumptive album of the year have the last word.


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