Archive for June 12th, 2007

The Existential Funk

So here I am – a traveler who’s not currently traveling, and a writer who’s not writing enough to win his bread and butter. My predicament leads me to ponder that forever-confounding question: who am I?

From a Zen standpoint, this is a question to which I should be comfortable not knowing the answer – you know, emptiness and all that. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that I have a bit of an existential dilemma on my hands.

Part of the problem, or perhaps the whole of it, is my ego wanting some measure of validation. My self desires identity, and the personae of traveler and writer (or travel writer, maybe?) are both bold and attractive. But it’s important not to get caught up in the idea – the lifestyle of airports, cafes, filled notebooks and wanderlust – while neglecting the substance.

Don’t misunderstand – I love to write, and traveling and meeting people are my true passions in life. But at my age it’s beginning to be a question of talent and soul. The lulls are when I have too much time to think, when I worry that what I’m doing is not enough. I think about the people I look up to – Rolf Potts, Howard French, Eric Pape – and feel inadequate to an extent. Despite being out of university not three weeks, I feel there’s a fire under my ass and that I’m slow on the uptake.

In a conversation yesterday, my friend posited that perhaps it’s simply that you never hear about the downtime that famous writers take – and not that they never take it. That sounds reasonable, but whether it’s my conditioning, my perceptions of success or a legitimate aspect of being driven, I can’t help but feel stagnant in a way.

There’s no easy answer to my existential question, but maintaining a balance is key; I can’t live my life or interpret my identity entirely through the frame of my future aspirations. I love where I’m at and I’m blessed to have the good people that surround me. Perhaps this restlessness is part of who I am, and I’ll figure out the angles just by following where it takes me.


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