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Moulting and Metamorphosis, October 15th, 2000 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: October 15th, 2000
"Moulting and Metamorphosis" [permalink]
    keywords: life, career, decisions, ambition
    soapbox #: 263
    written: October 15th, 2000
    words: 2012

"Moulting and Metamorphosis", an Essay

Anthem of the Day: Limp Bizkit, "My Way" (lyrics)

This summer, my mom took to growing specific plants and herbs in the backyard, and her project turned out exceedingly well, transforming our view out the back into a more vibrant and colorful one. It provided us with some produce and flavoring for our meals, and in time also provided the same for other animals, namely some pesky birds and caterpillars.

Well, my mom became fascinated with the caterpillars as well and she took them inside so they could munch on what she'd grown, all the while under her watchful eyes. In time they would do what caterpillars are programmed to do, and eventually they'd come out of their cocoons as beautiful butterflies or moths.

When I contemplated what exactly is going on in my life, I had some difficulty figuring out what sort of stage I was in my life. Some things remain the same, like where I'm living, but many things have changed. I feel a lot different inside than I used to, and considering how I used to feel when I wrote things for the Soapbox, I came up with mixed emotions on where I've come to up to this point.

It used to be that lots of things pissed me off. Even the smallest things would prompt a Soapbox ranting about it. Yet these days, even though I scour far more news reports than I ever did in the past, I don't feel the impulse to run to my keyboard and raze the fields of the oppressors with digital words.

It seems harder to summon that brash rage and fire that I had once been so proud of in my writing. Sometimes that concerns me, because it makes me wonder if maybe this is something that happens as some people grow older and outgrow things they had done as children or teenagers. I fear losing something I consider to be a part of me, all to age and perhaps even jadedness.

However, I am not sure I ever realized as much as I do now how much I am overwhelmed with curiosity and openness towards new ideas and customs. The same things that would completely repel me in the past no longer do so, in that I will read or hear about them but not so quickly avoid them. Teenage angst has perhaps turned into a love of life, or a love of myself, or a love of learning, or something.

So perhaps it is a caterpillar's metamorphosis which is occurring with me right now. Of course, we go through the same cycle of stages many times in our lives, not just once, so this is one of many important ones I will be going through.

Let's recap. I finished school, dropped out of design, took up trading, read a lot and a few of books in turn along the way, lost my first girlfriend, visited Stockholm, London, Rome, Paris, Philly, and a little of NYC. I embraced yearnings for music which ultimately want me to become a DJ or High Fidelity music geek of some sort, rediscovered a need to read more of the classic authors, began to enjoy a more refined sense of fashion, food, and health. Jesus Christ, what's happening to me?

I even got a cellphone yesterday, something I had long ago declared ridiculous for anyone to do. So what's the deal? Am I becoming a consumerist yuppie gadgeteer fan boy? Am I an asshole to be around now? Do I come off as someone with a holier than thou attitude? Self-reflection is a constant process and these are the sorts of things that bother me sometimes.

I suppose it's important to keep some perspective. During my time on the Internet, which is finally beginning to be used as a permanent fixture in everyday life for even non-computer people, a lot of my confidence in my own beliefs has come from predictions I made to myself about how influential the Internet would eventually become. That is, by seeing happen now what I thought would happen years ago, I trust my ability to see things as they are better. Perhaps this is a bad thing, relying on the progress of the world to reaffirm myself, but perhaps it is instead something that just makes sense to me because that's the way it should be. I've long though that the world we live in is a flowing river, where some parts of it move faster than others, and some parts are caught in eddies that take a long time to get out of. This river is hard to paddle backwards upstream again, but quite comfortable and soothing if you find the current and ride along with it. When I study things like the history of minority rights through the court system, or the advances in technology, or the development of art from Renaissance to impressionist to abstract, it all makes perfect sense. Those who stood in the way only delayed the inevitable, at great expense to themselves. Those who were able to see the current and work their way over to it were the ones who were thrust into the future faster.

At the same time as studying future trends, I have had the opportunity to study the past as well as alternative ways of living, in Europe. I feel Rome and Paris were tremendously important learning experiences for me, and everything I had learned and heard and expected all came together to forge with the actual physicality of the place. My views on many things have changed completely and overall I am feeling far more content and mellow with my findings and opinions about the world.

This year I pledged to myself to complete several goals, one being to travel, which I did, another being to dunk a basketball, which I am still working on (I feel my body is almost ready, but I don't think my mind is), yet another to become more hip to both clubbing (and music in general) and the latest in technogadgetry, both of which I think I have done extremely well.

I am happy with my progress then and thus want to undertake some new goals. One, I need to read more. Visiting graves of famous writers in Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and houses of others around Paris and not knowing their works very well made me feel like I have missed out on that part of my educational refinement. I was, however, pleased with how much I knew about painters and sculptors before seeing their works in person.

Another goal I have is to obtain a proficiency in being a DJ. The whole atmosphere around it fascinates me. What the most skilled DJs know is amazing, with a command of old school vinyls and the latest shit that hits the clubs, of which there is plenty coming out every single day. If last year was about me becoming a trader, I think that the next coming years will be about me knowing what it's like to be a DJ.

I know I have to be patient with my progress in becoming a trader. In many respects I wish I had started a couple years earlier, before what could have been a blowoff top to our bull market. I could have really capitalized on it last year if I had known what I was doing. However, in retrospect, I've done extremely well and have multiplied my starting money many times. I need to hold it, though, and turn it into a consistent and non-mystical way to make money. I love the profession and I love the challenge of it. It is not so much the thrill but the dynamic nature and the directness of it. I see it as different from when I wanted to be a designer. I realized that being a designer is not all it's cracked up to be, and grants fewer freedoms than you would think when you first start. Being a trader, to me, is indeed a profession, and a man's challenge.

I feel stronger, smarter, wiser, more experienced in the ways of the world, more cultured, more well-read, more open-minded, more accessible to the world than I've ever felt in the past, and I consider that a great thing. As I've feared in previous Soapboxes, I dread the day when I feel as if I've taken a step backwards.

Of course, there's always that festering wound called love. It continues to escape me as I see it intertwine itself between two people who don't get along with each other and who will not last long, and in terms of my life and the world, love and romance really do not make sense to me the way the rest of the world flows logically and under natural law like the above-mentioned river. But I am comforted by thoughts that perhaps it will not come until I am really ready for it (which would confirm my inside belief that I am not ready for lots of things yet) and also because friends and acquaintances are always detailing the sordid goings-on in their own relationships, things I would not wish upon my greatest enemies, which are, in fact, almost non-existent right now, surprisingly.

Hate put me in here, he said, and love will get me out. I am confident of that.

As far as other relationships go, I'm settling into a more comfortable position as far as my friends go. I have found a core group of people who are just honestly and genuinely good to me, and that's all I need. My relationship with my dad right now is kind of weird, but personally I think it's because I just keep a lot to myself these days. I don't make enough of an attempt to communicate with him and he's not really the type of person who I would get along under normal circumstances just because of our different interests. My vacation in Paris with my mom went fairly well, I thought, and we got along and she didn't annoy me or anything, cuz she knows how to just hang out. But I do think that they consider me not grateful enough for everything they do for me, which perhaps is true if you look at it in some ways. But I really have a hard time showing my appreciation to people, making it hundreds of times harder to do so for my parents. While I was with Anna, she was really the only person I truly communicated with and so when she left, that channel closed down for me and only filters its way out in bits and pieces to my parents and friends.

But overall I am extremely pleased with my progress. It would feel better if I knew there would be an ultimately happy ending to my story, because I'm always wary of the Greek tragedian ending that could always occur. I have a lot to learn, and I am excited to do it. That is the best I can do right now. It's more than most people can muster.

But you know, to be truly honest, I'm really looking forward to the end of this exact changing and growing process, so I can enjoy a few more rewards before beginning the cycle again. :)

I do not take for granted the fact that I mentally feel as though I deserve what I have, and that I have worked hard for it as well, and that I have the potential to accomplish so much more before I die, if I ever die.


 
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