Soul Shuddering

Maybe it’s turning forty or maybe it’s watching Pugsy grow older each day, his arthritis making it difficult for him to walk down our front steps. Maybe it’s thinking about going back to school and the price tag associated with it. Maybe it’s Trump and the horror at what is becoming of my nation. Maybe it’s my growing list of books that I want to read over at goodreads. Maybe it’s watching Malin and Johan of RAN spending the summer up in Alaska. Maybe it’s just a combination of it all.

The world is such a wide, weird, wonderful place. And I want to see as much of it as I can.

I know where I want to be and where I want to go, in the ethereal sense. My life should consist of days where no two are the same, where strangers become quick friends or weeks of solitary ruminations make me long for human connection. To travel, to write, to read, to live a life dictated by the weather and wind and waves. A life built through discomfort and challenge. A life worth writing about. This is the life I envision when I think of the perfect life.

Let me state here that perfect1 does not mean that I think it will be all unicorns shitting out rainbows and elfs throwing gold coins at my feet. I am not so young and naive to believe that perfect is easy or comfortable. That is not the life I write about. To grow, to feel fulfilled, to live a perfect life, challenges must be overcome, discomfort must be endured, hearts must be broken.

What I am finding most excrutiatingly hard is figuring out that middle ground, the strait between my current life to that perfect life. How do I go from looking at these two monitors, trying to learn React, watching other adventurers on YouTube to looking at Alaskan mountains or coral reefs, learning how to speak a different language, and sharing my adventures with the world? What are the steps that take me from A to Z? Where’s the handbook on that type of life? Shouldn’t I just be happy where I’m at? Shouldn’t I learn to enjoy the life I have created?

These are rhetorical questions2.

Everything in life costs time and money, in one way or another. I’m trading time for money, and have for most of my adult life, in the form of a job. They’ve been good jobs, don’t get me wrong, but if I wasn’t getting paid, would I do them? Probably not. So, how do you craft a life that is going to support you but that you would still do for free? How can I have health care and contribute to my retirement accounts? How do I make sure there’s a safety cusion should all go to shit? Is this even possible? Does something like that exist?

And then, the doubt creeps in. I see many paths leading away from the current spot on the map that I stand on. First, there is the path that is somewhat described above: a boat, sailing throughout the world, spending years visiting different cultures and landscapes. This is enthralling. I could go back to school, get my degree, and move into a different computer science field. This is appealing to me. Another path would be to move west, take a job working on a farm, find a way to work with horses again and live amongst the wild mountains. This is romantic and appealing in a different way. Another path is years of writing ahead of me, submitting stories to magazines, working on my novel, the steady heartbeat of a solid job and making roots here in Lincoln as the backbone to the uncertain life of a writer.

Each of these paths…

Each of these paths offers something for the different parts of me. I want to write, I want to travel, I want to write good software, I want to build new things, I want to have robust savings, I want to be smarter than I am. Each path fulfills a different piece of my soul. And I can see each one as a good life. But great? I don’t know. There is no one great desire. There is no one great shuddering of my soul. If there was, if my soul shudder at a path, a direction, I would jump without hesitation.

Isn’t that what the repeating pattern of travel and boat living is though? Isn’t that life screaming at me to live it? How many times do I have to be hit in the head with it before I recognize that it is the one that makes my soul shiver?

Haven’t you always been told to move forward in any direction, even if it’s the wrong direction? The problem with that is, at this point in my life, the wrong direction could set me back years. There’s more at stake. It’s not like I’m twenty-one years old where I could just say fuck it and end up working on a cattle ranch.

All I have are questions and not an answer in sight. Well, not an answer I’m willing to listen to, not when the logistics don’t work out just yet.


  1. I don’t necessarily believe that any life can be perfect but I believe in trying to get as close as possible. [return]
  2. Aren’t they all just rhetorical questions, anyway? [return]