POV: Wasted.

Friday, November 8, 2013

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.

I was twenty-eight when I first went to summer camp.

It was two months ago and I was in New Hampshire for a wedding, which took place on sprawling campgrounds over the span of several days. Guests were nostalgic and traded childhood memories of sleeping away from home, of singing songs by campfires, of learning to canoe and fish and survive in the wilderness.

Early one morning, I lay awake in my bunk, examining the dirt under my fingernails. Water trickled from a pipe outside. Nearby, the shirts we’d tie-dyed the day before billowed on a clothesline.

I was suddenly overcome with sadness.

As I've written before, the past year or so of my life has been transformative. Not because of any single occurrence, but because of the amalgamation of a thousand smaller events, changes, and chance meetings. The whole experience has felt a little like settling into myself.

It also feels, to me at least, like it took a long time for this to happen. I worry sometimes that it took too long. I wonder: Am I getting too old to be doing this? Is it too late to just be starting to figure things out? Is the window closing on this time for adventuring and experimenting and being lost? I think these things, and I wonder whether I should be spending every waking hour out and doing and feeling and not wasting.

I’m finding that the swift, stubborn passage of time is breathtaking, electrifying. It’s also petrifying. It’s also beautiful.

Laurie Anderson, wife of the late Lou Reed, wrote in Rolling Stone this week: “Lou and I played music together, became best friends and then soul mates, traveled, listened to and criticized each other's work, studied things together (butterfly hunting, meditation, kayaking). We made up ridiculous jokes; stopped smoking 20 times; fought; learned to hold our breath underwater; went to Africa; sang opera in elevators; made friends with unlikely people; followed each other on tour when we could; got a sweet piano-playing dog; shared a house that was separate from our own places; protected and loved each other.”
I read this on the subway yesterday, and it made me think: as long as I’m doing things that are meaningful to me – and as long as I’m true to my own spirit and honor those of the people I love – there’s no possibility of wasted time, or regrets.
My roommate Jamie records a daily diary of her life in photographs of things like our overcrowded shower caddy and sunlight shining through our translucent dining room chairs. “These kinds of things bring back memories that make you feel the most," she says.

A week ago, back in New Hampshire (this time for a friend’s birthday celebration), I spent two days as part of a group of seventeen - in the woods, on a lake, in blinding sunlight during the day, in quiet blackness at night. We stayed in an old house with a barn and a vegetable garden and talking parrots in the kitchen who whistled genially and bade us hello.
The night before we returned to the city, we gathered around a fire outside the barn, on iron chairs in the grass. We played games; someone recited a poem. Then, at midnight, we retired to our rooms. It was early, but there was a neighboring child sleeping.
No matter. 
We’d looked at the stars and cooked a dinner that we ate – many hours after we started – by candlelight. We had whiskey and wine and chocolate cake with ice cream. I’d worn holes in the bottoms of my tights, walking up and down painted staircases, enthralled by their creaking. I’d made friends. Canoed in fresh and frigid morning air, in a coat and moccasins and socks pulled to my knees.
The day and night felt full regardless of the hour.
So, at midnight, without a trace of sadness or regret, or what-are-we-missing or are-we-getting-old, we went to bed, leaving the fire crackling.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThank you so much for your support, as always! Photo via my Instagram.


Betsy said...

I had the privilege of being a housemate with a lovely 85 year old lady, Phoebe by name. She gave me the most wonderful insight into what it's like to look at life in the rear view mirror to see what was time wasted, and what was time well spent. Wasted time usually comes from two avenues: worry, and bitterness (and whatever actions spring from those avenues).

Anything else, whether pleasure or pain, will make you grow, and that is time well spent.

Cary said...

Four seasons includes winter. No activities outside but down under, trees, bushes, flowers grow roots to become stronger and bigger next year. Your writing is lovely.

Loulou said...

It sounds like you have had some great adventures this fall, and that you have a good group of friends to do it with. As always, you've told your stories beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered writing a book? These little vignettes would make for a lovely work of art.

Raquel R. said...

Vivid descriptions and thought-provoking writing. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

so beautiful. thank you for sharing.

Shoko said...

Thank you, everyone!

Betsy, Phoebe sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing that.

Cary, perfectly said.

Brianna, thank you so much. It's crossed my mind but I need some time to think about what shape it would take. I'd love to make it happen, though!

Kelly said...

I love that photo! Is that you?

Shoko said...

Kelly, yes! On Lake Dublin, which was incredibly, incredibly beautiful.

Hena Tayeb said...

that sounds beautiful.. so perfect.

Kathy said...

This was just wonderful. I, too, worry that sometimes it takes me too long to figure things out. But we do figure things out, and it's amazing to look back on the road you took to get to where you are today.

max said...

what can i say? your POV's are magical, each and every one.

Paw said...

girlseeksplace is right. a book is in order.

Shoko said...

Thank you, thank you!

Trent said...

Possibly one of my very favorite entries... although it is getting difficult to choose. You're right on schedule, BTW.

angela said...

I am always so nostalgic for my camp days, what a magical experience you had!

Shoko said...

Trent, thank you so much.

Angela, it was!



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