As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes. Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are. “Go with the flow and ride with the tide.”-Grady Lyda
In the process of writing a long reflection on today being 5 years since my dad’s death, I decided to look up one of my old blog posts from 2013 entitled “Restless,” in which he wrote a comment I didn’t actually read until a year or so after he died. It wrecked me then, and it very appropriately wrecked me again today. For some context, this post was written when I had just started to pursue a career in animation but was feeling horrible because art already felt like a “job” to me, just from the minimal freelance I had done. I was feeling absolutely stuck, and I came to the stunning realization that I didn’t know how to balance my life and that something must be seriously wrong with me. HILARIOUS. I wish I could go back to 24 year old me and tell her “It’s ok, you’re just bipolar! Watch these videos! Read these things! Start working on it now!”
In that post, I mentioned this podcast about Andrew Forsthoefel, a 23 year old kid who walked across America, and how jealous I was that he had gone on a true adventure that changed him forever. I felt like I was missing out and wanted to see the world, meet new people and hear their stories. It’s not like I’ve walked across America, but I have gone on some serious life changing adventures since then. When writing that post, I never in a million years could’ve guessed that I’d get married in Hawaii, meet Mother Ayahuasca in Peru, or sail through Drake’s Passage and have a chance to cruise around Antarctica. I also really have met tons of interesting people all around the world with amazing stories who have shown me that living an alternative lifestyle is possible, and that there can be another way to live your life.
But even after all the life I’ve already lived… This wise message from the great beyond will always bring tears to my eyes. Because life IS overwhelming, and no matter how much cool shit I do, no matter how much inner peace I manage to attain at times, I feel like that pressure to do it all will never quite go away. That feeling of needing to rush things because I always feel behind. And it’s because we’re human. And we die. Everything we are inevitably turns to dust. His words are validating, inspiring, and enlightening all at once. Reading a message like this at exactly the right time is proof that my dad’s spirit will always be here to guide me, and a deep reminder of the importance of learning to let go and live in the moment. When you think about it, that’s really the best option we’ve got.
This is GREAT! I love your commentary and all the heartfelt responses you received. I heard the same “This American Life” episode, and I was also touched by his discoveries.
It reminded me of one night when I was sitting at a Winchell’s in Santa Ana in the early 80s, innocently drinking coffee and eating donuts. A guy in his mid-20s came in with a big grin wearing a cowboy hat, and he looked at me and said, “I just walked across the US, from the East Coast to California. Now, here I am!” I said, “Wow, your feet must be tired.”
He was a cool guy, and the crowd in the shop was happy to hear what he had to say. He represented all of us who listened to his stories. Everyone wished they could have done the same thing. Actually, many of us HAVE done similar things. Life is a fantastic adventure that never ceases to amaze us. We make plans, but more often LIFE leads us into directions we never expected. The best we can do is be ready for whatever happens. Always be prepared to “go with the flow and ride with the tide.”
You have a wonderful list of goals and I hope you can accomplish them all, plus many more you haven’t thought of yet. Remember, you are in this for the long-haul. You might feel desperate to prove yourself and experience the whole world immediately. I’ve felt the same way, and I’ve criss-crossed this country several times, and visited other countries as well. It’s a fantastic planet and you have plenty of time to explore it.
As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes.
On my blog about my life 40 years ago, my younger self is always fretting about how nothing happens fast enough. Of all the entries so far, maybe this would be of interest to you:
Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are.“
My dad had a blog he called True Time Travel Tales where he archived this journal my aunt returned to him from a trip around the country that he went on when he was 18 years old. I always meant to read it but never got around to it because I always found myself “busy” with something else. Then, after he died, I felt so guilty that I hadn’t been able to talk to him about it when he was alive I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. But then at one point shortly after his death I noticed there were a ton of broken images and contacted the hosting site to make sure they got it back up. Now, years later, I still haven’t read the blog, and again there are tons of broken images. Upon clicking that link, I had a straight up panic attack. I started shaking and couldn’t breathe, and completely lost it when I found out that the hosting site he had used no longer existed. The first time I had got the site back up, I vowed to myself I would save all the photos before this happened… but again… never got around to it… and now they’re gone forever.
My mom has a serious hoarding problem that was awful to grow up with, even getting to the point where me and my dad wanted to see if we could get her on the Hoarders show. When I was a kid I didn’t really understand it… I just thought we lived in a messy house. But as I got older and started seeing the hoarding tendencies within myself, it became clear to me that hoarding physical items represents underlying emotional issues of not being able to let go and move forward. Fears of the temporary nature of life and the inevitability that you and everyone you love are someday going to die. I’m not as bad as my mom, but I do take thousands and thousands of photos because my memory is so terrible and I find myself desperately clinging to certain moments of my life and not wanting them to disappear. I often have nightmares about losing all these photos somehow — in a fire, in a flood, in a zombie apocalypse, accidentally spilling water on my hard drives… I know this actually does happen to some people, which Eddy would constantly remind me of and make me more upset. Until today.
Clicking on that link in my dad’s comment was beyond upsetting. I cried and cried and cried. In a way it felt like losing him all over again… losing these parts of him that I really truly wanted to discover, but again, being so caught up in myself that I never found the time. Familiar guilt and shame crept back in, and I felt myself grieving like I had in the beginning. I thought I had come so far and healed so much, yet the wound felt as raw as ever.
But then Eddy reminded me that this is basically like my worst nightmare… and now that it’s happened in this capacity, I should see that it’s ultimately fine. I’m still alive, I still have the memories of my dad, and life will go on. He also reminded me that my dad was never the type to cling to photos or physical objects. He was throwing things out all the time! In fact, the whole reason he made the site was because he had thrown out this journal years ago, and somehow a man found it and tracked down my aunt who had returned to him. Considering he was already sick and died 2 years after he made this blog, he was no doubt already feeling the need to reflect on his life somehow. He was never the type to hoard, and he was especially put off by my mom and would always try to throw out her garbage because he knew she never would.
When my dad died, I looked frantically for this journal because I wanted it so badly, but me and my mom discovered that he had already thrown out most of his things. It became clear that he had planned his death, and in the beginning I was super angry at him for not leaving behind any of this stuff for me, or even a note explaining himself. I suppose he thought I wouldn’t care… and it’s taken me a while to get over the idea that I should’ve just asked him… that I should’ve shown some interest while he was still around. All these familiar feelings of self hatred and regret came back today when I found out his hosting went down, until Eddy talked some sense into me and reminded me what kind of person my dad was. How he was never the type to hold onto things and wouldn’t expect me to either. He would want me to just keep moving forward and enjoying life…
So when I came back to my senses and actually read the post he had linked to me, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though the image was broken, it was literally just a blank page. Just like life. Just like this moment. He said that he wanted to preserve the beauty of the page before adding his thoughts onto it. It’s just like him to make this sort of point… and I started to see that this is an incredibly important lesson for me to learn. Even though he’s no longer around, he will always be here guiding me, helping me break through these walls that are such a natural part of the human condition.
We as humans can’t help but be so deeply affected by mortality. I felt so terrible losing these photos that I know he had thrown out. There was a time years ago that I started to try and save all the photos on each of his entries, but it took so long I couldn’t see myself doing it for the whole year. I also see that a bunch of videos he had posted have already been taken down… which really hurt in the beginning, but thinking about it logically… that’s just the nature of the internet. All this important stuff is just located on the cloud, and once it’s gone… it’s gone. This was a way for him to reflect on his life when he knew he didn’t have much longer in this world, and I have to just be grateful that he at least created this website and I have his words to reflect back on. And stop thinking that losing all of this was my fault…
In the end, all we are is dust in the wind. Just because these images are gone doesn’t mean he didn’t live a rich life, and it doesn’t mean he’s no longer my dad. Life is just a series of moments and experiences, and the best we can do is live in the present and enjoy where we are. And if something is important to you… don’t WAIT like I did, or it may be too late. I am so sick of waiting, of avoiding, of thinking “I’ll do that thing tomorrow” and never getting around to it, the weight getting heavier and heavier… JUST DO IT ALREADY.
A fantastic reminder for a 5 year death anniversary. Thanks, dad. Maybe now I can truly listen to your advice. Everything does indeed happen for a reason… lesson learned. All of this will be over before we know it. Perspective is such a trip.
I close my eyes
Only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind
Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Now, don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind.