The Arsonist, or The Escapist pt. 2

I hit my 23rd birthday in less than two months, and that’s a little startling because, in the story of my life, Chapter 22 may as well be entitled “In Which Nothing Happens.” There’s not much that can be done to change the events of that chapter, but as an author I realize I’m not completely without agency. If I work at it, I can make something of the rest of this year. I can scratch out the title and replace it with “The Calm Before the Storm.”
But if that’s going to happen, I need to work on my rain dance.
~ July 3rd, 2012

It’s raining today.

Yesterday, it was literally raining, as it tends to be at Grove City College when it isn’t snowing. I know it was raining yesterday in Grove City because I was there, and am still, though my heart has moved on. There were legitimate reasons to come here, but they’re mostly exhausted, and soon I’ll be leaving this campus, perhaps for the final time.

For me, this campus has always lent itself to melancholy after dusk. I’ve spent many nights strolling circuitously under cover of cloud and hood, sometimes listening to music, always listening to my mind. It’s hard to say which one is louder on most days. The last few, the latter wins hands-down.

Last time I was at Grove City I was accosted time and again with the question “what are you doing?” to which I had no answer. This time I had an answer, but the question changed: “what are you doing here?”

I have an answer to that too, but it has grown cloudier as the days have passed. In retrospect I ought to have come down a day or two earlier, and left this morning. Because my goal was to seek guidance from professors, and now I’m in the midst of two days during which no professors are here. Promise of a few social hours this evening hardly explains two wasted days. Try as I may to redeem that time, there’s no doubt it could have been better spent back home.

Yet herein I find a marked difference between past and present me: where I once spent my solitude wishing I were in the past, still here, remaking the decisions I regret, I now spend it wishing I were moving forward faster, leaving mistakes and this place behind to worry about themselves, eager for opportunities to make (or avoid) new ones.

Months ago I looked at my life and lamented how nothing was happening, wondering if something would, wondering if I could change. And change it did, change I have. Stagnation has become trajectory; my concern no longer inertia but velocity – moving the right way as quickly as possible. The ennui took not weeks but hours to appear; every minute lost seems a tragedy, one I now fight to avoid.

I ended Chapter 22 with a bang: I got a job, found a purpose, started losing weight, and reclaimed dark and dusty corners of my spiritual and vocational life. Chapter 23 is going so well. Everything I wanted to be doing, I am — and the ambition to do more is still alive and well, smoldering in place of the ashes I was afraid that ambition would become.

But smoldering isn’t good enough. Smoldering is heat suppressed, energy concealed, potential latent. I’ve always been a pyromaniac at heart, and I think it’s high time for combustion.

Time, as it were, to set fire to the rain.

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