For additional context in relation to this piece established prior, read A Note to 2017 (pt. 1).
One year ago this very day, even this very moment, I found myself in the darkness of the upper room of a house I no longer live in, expressing to you my deepest and most intimate of optimisms. There was an undeniable anticipation and anxiety I can still vividly remember, and I really enjoyed that. I did not know why then any more than I do now, but it was there. This time last year, I was excited for the new year. Having now lived 2017 in its near entirety, I thought it appropriate to follow up, and say frankly that 2017 was a bitch, and in the paradigm of binary relationships through which I choose to live my life, this year I am thoroughly disappointed. This might be attributed principally to that quasi-optimism I once felt, or by the mere fact that very little of anything noteworthy happened to me this year as I ingenuously hoped. I suppose it could be a little bit of both.
Allow me to review. Shortly after the new year, within a week of the new academic semester, I dropped all of my classes and decided to quit school altogether. Having dropped out the previous semester as well, I determined myself unfit and therefore withdrew. Soon after, months and months of dissatisfaction in the workplace culminated in my sudden departure…by my own initiative, of course. So there I was…an unemployed college dropout. What did I do? I went to a cabin in the mountains far away and did nothing but read books, watch critically-acclaimed films, and write pages and pages of content of this very type for the better part of two weeks. Upon returning, I felt sufficiently inspired to carry on. Having been so disillusioned with the bleak grey-ness of office work for so long, I resolved to seek the opposite. I thus became employed as a gardener in the spring, and enjoyed it very much until the end of the summer. During that time I liquidated the retirement savings I had accrued at my former employer and spent every last penny of the surplus on tchotchkes, books, expensive writing instruments, and worthless collectibles. I chased after three different girls, all attempts materializing into absolutely nothing, leaving me all the more discouraged and alone. After much deliberation I moved out of the house I was in, only to later realize that I should have stayed, even if it was a rip-off. The remainder of the year was spent once again in my parent’s basement, reading more literature, watching more films, and writing more prose that nobody reads.
The problem, I found, is not in the events of the year, but how I chose to anticipate and deal with them. This is the grand lesson that I learned. The fact that I came to expect so much out of 2017 was my first downfall, as it lead me constantly to compare and wonder how the current moment affected my overall vision of a so-called “greatest year ever.” Every low moment detracted from the vision, discouraging me, and every high moment left me wondering if that was it…like nothing else would happen and I was left feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. Those who know me well know my oft-spoken mantra, “Expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised.” I solemnly confess that in 2017, I failed miserably to live by that, and consequently am left in a perpetual melancholy. As for the goals I outlined as resolutions, they were noble then and they still are now. The development of certain capacities is limited, I discovered, to the circumstances at hand and the most we can do is our best. I will continue to implement all of those things and more in the coming year, and that is all I will say on the matter. The truth is, at the end of this year, I am in many ways more discouraged, alone, and calloused than last year. But it wasn’t all bad…
During that summer as a gardener I somehow managed to figure out what I want to do with my life, leading me to enroll again at the school I so stoutly dropped out of. At the end of a summer trip, I took a road less travelled and discovered America, changing my perspective in so many ways of what I want to see and the places I want to go. I took more time on summer afternoons to sit on my porch and enjoy myself…doing absolutely nothing (see Be Calm). I bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle (hopefully the first of many), which I later sold at a 25% profit, furnishing me the funds necessary for the heretofore mentioned purchases…all of which I do not regret in the least. After two honorable yet miserable failures of attempts, I managed to quit social media in its entirety. I still wonder whether or not it was worth it, but I feel like I’m living truer to my ever-so-sought-after virtue of simplicity, and that alone brings me great joy. Despite my struggle with dating, there was one who came back around suggesting another go, but by then I had moved on — sufficiently satisfied with the closure I had been left to invent. From that I learned to be free, avoiding a pitfall experienced previously, and took one step closer to becoming a man. There were times I was commended for the presumably unread writing I did, and that motivated me. Recently I learned that I earned a position in an internship program I’m pretty excited about — a small yet vital triumph whispering to me the ever-so-hopeful words of “carry on” that everybody needs. This year I was inspired by great works of art and creativity that really helped me. I experienced for the first time truly what it is like to retreat and immerse one’s self in a creative process. And when all was said and done, and after a tough battle to which I nearly succumbed, I managed to earn a respectable grade point average at school. Therefore, I repeat, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, a lot of it was pretty amazing.
So again, my underlying disappointment lies not in what happened per se, but in how I chose to view it in the moment, often entirely in the wrong light. That is something that will be corrected in the coming year, and for that my optimistic anxiety has returned, and it is very much welcomed. I learned a ton this year. And while in my candor I imply still the subtle discomfort of my challenges, I can honestly say that I have learned more of what I think I need to know, did more of what I feel I’m supposed to do, and am closer to what I want to be. That, in the end, is priceless, and that is the purpose of life. So I have mixed feelings, 2017, and for good reason. But now, with the turn of the clock as you disappear into the annals of history never again to be lived, I bid you the finest and most respectable of farewells, raising my glass yet again in your honor. You truly were a pleasure to live.
Still another tormented, hopelessly romantic, this time irrationally pessimistic, better-focussed, less but still overwhelmingly yet consciously naive, ever-learning, over-analytical millennial nostalgist with now even better intentions, always in need of a bit of a break…Dillon Boss