My best friend is in law school and he generally dislikes it. When he’s not studying, he gets stoned and writes me lengthy emails about his pot-induced epiphanies, rating each one on a “highness” scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the “highest” he thinks he could get. Whenever the rating exceeds 5, I am wary, because the higher he is, the more insipid the contents.
His most recent email, however, was different and strangely enough, unrated. It was autobiographical, and it made me feel things: concern, curiosity, potential. There was potential for some kind of discovery there.
In it, he presented an argument for his self-diagnosed identity crisis that went more or less like this: I am my accomplishments. I lose my potential accomplishments to competitors more successful than I. And when I do, I lose myself.
Instead of pursuing his dreams, he becomes reclusive and spends most nights smoking up and experimenting with his drugs. Averaging only 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day, he lives on various substances that keep him awake.
He’s actually successful in his studies and career — he’d pass for any respectable law student — but as with most of us, he feels something lacking.
He told me he’s stopped dreaming. To cease to dream is to cease to be human, I’ve always thought. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to teach and write and to an extent, that is what I’ve been doing the past few years. And until last year, my life goal was to pursue graduate studies in Philosophy and start my own boarding school, where I would educate and inspire children in the hopes of making the world a better place.
When my friend was still in Korea, he told me he wanted to use his law degree to work in international law, helping people live a better life. When we were together, he and I would wake up, eat breakfast, and step out into the cool morning to head to work. He would go down the hill for the bus, and as we parted, sleepy-eyed and sluggish, I would shout, “Two heroes!” and feel lucky that going to work meant going to school, seeing my students, sharing knowledge and love. And we did that for a steady year, but in the end (and a disastrous end it was), I was only tired. And sad, regretful of everything I did wrong.
Of his dreams, I have only a vague idea: love, friendship, work, and opportunities. Of mine, I don’t have much to say; I just want to enjoy life and love people. The dreams I’d accumulated over the years seemed less and less important, so I let go. Maybe I’ve grown cynical, or maybe I’m selfish.
Nowadays, I just want to write. Sometimes I feel the urge to write for others (and often, I have to as part of my job) but mostly I write for myself. Because it sustains me. Because I need to.
I wish I could write books and be read and have people feel something, see something new. But instead of trying, I drink and read (it’s better than my writing) and engage in questionable relations. When I can’t sleep at night, I scribble what I feel in a notebook and dare to call it writing.
I don’t know which is more troubling, if that is what this is: the fear of failure, or a growing indifference towards the world.