My Life These Days…

It’s always a bit strange to be at a point in your life where you feel at a bit of a crossroads. For me, the existential nature of it all takes on an almost absurdist quality. It feels as though my life slowly is stretched and wound around particular aspects of itself, unwinding with a snap–a snap into a new shape of sorts. Unchanged, then, but entirely different.

Four years ago, I made the choice to come to Toronto and everything felt like that–but more sharp and shaken, due to the change in surroundings. Now… well, now I feel like a chapter has shut and I stand at the interlude. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along this last chapter and had a lot of successes too. I’ve lost more than I’ve won, I think–which is something that comes hard to me. That said, what I have gained is worth more than what I had before. Quality over quantity, as it were.

Part I

I got in a fight with my mother a few days ago. She’s the type that doesn’t particularly like vulgarity–as her father before her, and so forth. Someone, as tends to be the case in my small-townish-bubble-of-a-life back home, mentioned to her that I was particularly harsh on a politician or administrator. It was apparently laiden with expletives (of which, I’m generally sparing) and she wasn’t particularly happy about it.

Well, ok, she threatened to “destroy me”–in a case of typical verbal flourish gusto that both she has and I inherited, somewhat gleefully, even though such flourish is just that–so perhaps that was an understatement. I was, admittedly, also kind of a jerk. Like, really. I get really anxious when my parents call of late and, really, find they are the only people in the world who can quick break my supposed veneer of calm. But that doesn’t excuse being a jerk and being equally sharp in my (usual) verbosity.

But, that’s not important. What is is what she said later. In my hyper-defensiveness, she noted that she felt I was “always against something” and not for anything these days. My mother values a sense honesty in words and expresses herself so (well, at least to the extent in which she believes something is true)… so I tend to take that seriously (even when I scarcely admit that I do).

Had I really changed so much? Had I become something so ‘negative’?

It’s a tough set of questions. I don’t think I’ll ever have the perspective to truly answer them in full. But, perhaps these aren’t the right questions to ask. I mean, we all change a lot over time and our emotional perspectives shift with the hours, let alone the years. But, that also doesn’t mean certain trends in one’s ideals are negative (if sometimes negatively expressed). Since I was a kid, I was always the type to question things in society, in life, in people. I was a pain and I know it.

Certain aspects of myself are certainly more prominent than in the past–but they’ve always been there. Hell, some of them are my mother’s fault. I mean, where do you all think I got my stubborn, self-righteous and empathetic sides? Haha, all from her. By the way, my mother’s pretty amazing, like beloved by so many for her flawed, goofy, and aggressively loving nature–she’s going to kill me for writing this.

But, really. I’m the kind of person who stands for what I choose to and do so as uncompromisingly as I can manage… so it is good, but also causes some problems.

 

Part II

My political allegiances are always a subject of debate with people around me. I know this. Ok, maybe I’m projecting. I tend to title myself as a socialist to get out of committing to absolute partisanry while still committing somewhere vaguely… but I also am just terrible a following a line of any kind. It chafes and I tend to get a bit grumpy under such constraints. Moving to Toronto, though, has made me lose even the taste for much of that–much of politic.

I’ve written a lot, I think, about the loss of my faith in certain things–be it my faith in the electoral system or in certain organizations and what have you. It’s hard, then, to be for something when you don’t what exactly what you can trust in the shifting sands of this place, this City.

I mean, I can’t say I don’t know where I think I fit–I do–but I’m not sure how I go about making that political ideal into lived reality. Even now, the facades of certain spaces get peeled away and revealed to be–what exactly? Well, not what I’d hoped. It’s pretty disheartening.

But, also relieving. Maybe, I don’t really have to fit somewhere? Maybe I can just be and build whatever I can with people that want to as well. The realization that I can just build a project or two from the ground up isn’t a recent one–but it’s one that recurs a lot to me. No idea what that is, yet–but it’s one that takes me outside of academia (as mentioned a few posts ago).

I think, too, something I do often is blame the place I’m in for this sense of things–rather than the sum total of my experiences here. I even have done it above. That’s not entirely fair. While Toronto does have a tad of atmospheric gloom compared to where I’m from… it’s in part due to the associations I’ve built. I can’t keep running from past depressions and let-downs to putting all of the fault on some existential curse laden on this place. I do that from time to time.

Part III

Trust, though, is one of those things. And while I feel this way about some things in my life–so do others. It’s hard for me to accept the gulfs of trust that exist in certain communities in this place and harder still for me to not fall into sheer paranoia that often seems to grip all of it. I mean, having some of the experiences I’ve had over the past few years would push me to that. Watching that play out on a systemic level though–beyond the individual, even if justified–is still something I’m not entirely used to.

Such things cross into my life again and again as people question wider systems, but also individuals generally–even me. The latter I find the hardest to deal with, obviously. Yet, what keeps me grounded are the people in my life that transverse those trends and are forthright with me. Those are the people I have faith in and can be for, as it were. The simple honesty and care I’ve gotten back from my true friends, over these years here, has been a centering force like no other. Especially when love finds its way into my life, as it has now while I write this.

With these people in my life, I can see beyond the snapshot. I may have gone through a lot these past years, I may be entirely different… but yet unchanged. I tend to speak out a lot. But, these years have shorn away much to show me the kinds of people–across the years–who will stick with me to do so. I can be downright harsh about things I have issues with, while retaining that spark of empathy that makes me who I am.

I can’t deny things haven’t been easy, but I shouldn’t get too grim about myself either. It’s not going to be easy for awhile, perhaps, but I’ll find my way along–both in life and in politic. And, I’m not doing it alone. So, perhaps it’ll work out alright.

In a few weeks, I’m planning to move (but not too far). Time to break with old places and symbolism, I guess. New chapters are coming for me, I hope. I wonder where we’ll go?

All the best and existentially yours,
– Brad.

PS. Don’t ask why I referenced Too Many Cooks for the image. I really have no idea… but I guess you have to watch it now? I guess so.

PPS. Also, because I know you’ll be reading this at some point: I miss you. I’m the world’s biggest cornball.

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