Time Enough To Be Fantastic: A Letter to 20 and 40 from 30

A brief note to readers:

This is my first post in some time.  It is a personal post, and I don’t expect many of you to finish it.  But it is my own choice.  My own decision of how to spend the last moments of my twenties, and the first of my thirties.  I post it here not so much for you, but for me.  Because for me, saying it out loud makes it so much more real.  Thank you for all your support.  But first!  Pics of my twenties for those of you who want something…visual.

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Dear Self,

I wanted to take this time for us, you and I.  There is just enough time, I think, for one more deed, one more musing, one final communication from our twenties.  This post is written in that last moment, the twilight between the decade that was and the decade that is dawning.  I chose to write it because I have been thinking recently, about us, the old me and the new me, and the me that is.  And I think it is quite natural, when all is said and done, to face the question of “What have I done with my time?” or “Has my life been worth something?”

That’s a complex question for us, I don’t have to tell you.  And I know that we’ve been caught up recently in what we like to say is “planning for the future”.  But of course, we both know what we’re really doing when we are “planning for the future”; we’re judging our past.  We’re looking to avoid repeating mistakes already made, or to improve on previous successes.  It isn’t even unreasonable to want to be better tomorrow than you were yesterday.  But there’s something nasty lurking underneath those plans isn’t there?

So, I’ve decided, me, that the very last act we take in our twenties, and the very first in our thirties will be one of love.  Love of self.  Because the truth is, we deserve to be loved.  And that is such an important change from where we were back at nineteen wasn’t it?

Remember, me, back to those days in the early twenties.  Stop for a time and remember how alien we were back then.  We were adrift in a hopeless ennui of minimum wage, desperate codependent relationships, and self-inflicted religious abuses.  We believed, deeply, that our sexual orientation was a matter of divine concern.  What was it we said to ourselves back then?  “Each man you sleep with nails Jesus to the Cross again”.

Do you remember that time?  We didn’t know, really, whether we wanted to live or die.  And then a remarkable thing happened didn’t it?  We met an actor who swept us off our feet.  We fell in love with him, and we set aside our conflicts and allowed ourselves to be happy.  Twenty was when that happened, but it was so fragile then.

And then we dislocated our knee, and life changed again.  We had to move back to Texas.  We had to live with our father, a man we had almost no relationship with.  We met the man we would spend almost the entire next decade with, and we started to consider that maybe life could be lived.

And sure enough, without even realizing it we did live.  We took baby steps.  We got our GED, and then we went to Community College and fell in love with learning again.  Our mind became our passion and we considered that maybe we could be excellent.  For the first time we felt accepted for who we are, and we discovered that being expressed and accepted is an irresistible combination for healing.

And so many people were around us then.  So many people who saw us better than we saw ourselves.  Old friends, and new.  Professors who respected us, and a father who was so proud of us.

Then time came to change again, time to move on.  Our community college home was behind us, forever in our heart, and meaning so much more than we could communicate to anyone then.  We thought we would never fit in again.

And then we sat down in our very first Rhetoric Class at the University of Texas.  We thought we knew what was coming, but in that first period with her, the one we followed from class to class for the next three years, we dreamed a new dream of ourselves and set out to achieve it.  We were so bold then!  Arrogant even.  But willing to risk, and to put ourselves in the path of failure for the chance that we would taste success.  We faced the harsh realities of a system that didn’t expect us to succeed, and then we did.  We did it in spite of them, and we knew ourselves for the first time as fierce, and free, and we had fun.

And we even learned to speak Japanese!  (Ever so poorly, we’ll admit even in our love letter)

All the while we carried on with our man, our beaux, our ninja.  It wasn’t healthy, but it was ours.  We even asked him to marry us.  We bought a home, and remodeled it together.  We learned how to use power tools, and how to work with our hands.  And even given the end, we learned that the attempt to love another person is always worth it.  We know that now, after the pain of the end of it has faded.

Love leaves a mark that can never be erased; a stain that time never fades.

And then another man we had come to love very much left our lives.  He died, in our presence, physically on top of us.  He was such a remarkable man.  We know now just how much he saw us, how much he saw the me that might be.  He was the one that first convinced us to consider our magic action figures, and our pipe ceremonies, and buddhist meditations, and wiccan wheels.  He so patiently prodded us into the spirituality which had been so deeply a part of our lives before, and which we had sacrificed to survive our sexuality.

Our world was so much larger then, once he taught us to accept all of who we were.  Our self had to became big enough for that world that we saw.  We couldn’t help but become the person he loved before he left, and he loved us until that last moment.  And we didn’t become who we are until he had already gone.  His was a love held only in hope, and given to us in full measure when we were ready to receive it, even beyond the flimsy separating sheet which we call death.

And after that the world became bizarre and wonderful.  It became almost too much to handle, so many new things coming our way.  More than anything, the brother of our dead mentor took upon himself to finish the work of guiding us into ourselves.  He changed us again.  The world was Native American Medicine People, Buddhist Monks, Osatru, Rennies, Students, and Peers.  It was spirits, and visions, and magic spells.  It was learning to hunt, and to walk in the woods, and to climb mountains, and to drink with the ancient friends we had never met but knew instantly.  It was skepticism, and disbelief, and more trivial esoteric knowledge than we could hope to remember.  But even in the midst of the confusing pain of loss, and the dawning revelation of a world which called to us, there was a sly gift waiting for us even still.

It was another man, a teacher at University, who called his students ugly, and stupid, and demanded all that our talent could give and then, still, one inch more.  He was dark, and brooding, and yet deep in a way that made us ache.  He taught us to write.  He gave us our voice, chiefly because he demanded that we take it from him with all the force of our being.  And having wrenched it from his claws, we realized we had possessed it all along, but never recognized it before.  We became what we will be forever:  A Writer.

And then we graduated, and the great structure of our twenties fell away.  We had our degree, our proof that despite all of our mistakes and stubborn refusals, we had a mind worth honing.  Of course, every mind is worth honing, but we had a different kind of understanding of that now.

We became lost then, didn’t we?  In the absence of our schooling we came to lean on our fiancee so much more.  We became absorbed in him, and in our circle.  We wrapped ourselves up in making sure the lives of those around us were working, because we had no idea how to make our own work.  And we suffocated our lover.  Strangled him until in his final desperation he turned away from us, to the arms of another, and our heart broke.

Carrying the pieces, our pride took our heart far away from what we had known.  We ran away.  First to Omaha, and then to Denver, and finally to Albuquerque.  We didn’t want to live in the aftermath of our shattered world.  And yet, even then, we found open arms, people to love us, to teach us to love a new us.  A stronger us.  An us that emerged to live a real life.  We became ready to follow our dreams, and to sacrifice and labor for our own success, with as much verve and ingenuity as we had previously tried to manage the lives of our friends.  We learned, at last, to love ourself.

We realized we were codependent, and what that meant.  We realized we were a Wizard, and what that meant.  And we began our great work, the novel, the dream.  In each city we met new friends, new circles, new places and opportunities.  The world wasn’t just one way, but a hundred different ways, and everywhere we turned was exciting and fulfilling and so happy to have us near.

Now we find ourselves full circle, finding new places for old friends and old pieces.  Everyday the world becomes large and closer.  And there is love around us.  Love abounding, for us, and in us.  We are so blessed, to have everyday made new relationships, and to have restored old ones.  We are drowning in the wonder of the people surrounding us now.

And through it all, so much more good happened that can never be fully expressed.  In our twenties, we traveled abroad.  We saw four foreign countries, and half the states in the US.  We consumed more knowledge than we had ever thought possible, filling our mind with Shakespeare, and Kant, and Plato, and Gurdjieff, and Rowling.  So many voices held our hands through our first emerging into consciousness, ancient and new.  We can’t even remember them all at once.

We remembered, at the end, how to believe, and what it means to have faith.  Our “God” may more closely resemble a man in a wooden box, rather than a man on a wooden cross, but the yearning to be better and grander and gooder than we have been is the same.  We remembered, at the end, that we are good, even while we came to cherish the fierce darkness in our heart.

And, oh yeah, we had a starring role in one of the greatest musicals of all time, just to add a cherry on the top.

Why am I saying this to you Self?  Why am I spending these first few moments of my thirties, composing such a strange and self-inspecting ode to the complex vagueries of my own last decade?

Because we were fantastic.  Really, we were.  Sure, I know we’ve got no idea where this next decade is going.  But I thought it was important, when you, twenties, we still so fresh, to take a moment and say definitively how grateful I am to have lived you, and how blessed I feel to have you as my past.  I wouldn’t change a line.  I’m proud of you.  I’m proud of me.

I know here, at the end, you were so worried about what you accomplished.  You were upset that you didn’t have anything traditional to show for success.  You anguished about the dreams unfulfillled: about unfinished manuscripts, and unpaid debts, and of all the lacks that the world might be eager to point out to you.

But even so, I wanted to say: Thanks for everything so far.

And forty?  I know you’re a little ways away yet, but I just wanted to tell you: Watch me.  You watch me run.  You’ll see.  When we finally meet, you’ll hardly believe how far we’ve come.

I love you, all of you.

All of me.

-David M Daniel

Writer, Wizard, Sensei, Boy

This was taken days before my twentieth birthday

This was taken days before my twentieth birthday

Taken at 11:59 on the last day of my Twenties

Taken at 11:59 on the last day of my Twenties

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2 thoughts on “Time Enough To Be Fantastic: A Letter to 20 and 40 from 30

  1. “We wrapped ourselves up in making sure the lives of those around us were working, because we had no idea how to make our own work. And we suffocated our lover. Strangled him until in his final desperation he turned away from us, to the arms of another, and our heart broke.”

    Those three sentences sum up what I went through the months after graduation. Thank you for this amazing post.

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