What I've Learned At 23

I'm just going to write for old times sake. I'm going to write like this like it isn't about to be published anywhere.

There's so much I've learned over just 23 years on earth.

For one I've learned that many times we pass each other by without ever truly seeing each other. There's so many people I interact with every day, whether that's at the grocery store, or restaurant, or toll booth. Sometimes I wonder what they've been through. I wonder whether they have kids at home or if they're missing payments, or if one of their parents is sick but they're here because they have to be making money.

There's so many times as a 23-year-old where I don't feel seen. I feel like people pass me by without even asking any of the right questions, like they nibble at the edges without taking a chance to dive into who I really am.

I guess they just don't care.

And that's another thing I've learned. People generally don't give a damn about you. They don't. Even people who are supposed to give a damn sometimes don't. Employers don't care, friends don't care, teachers don't care.

Where is the compassion?

Since when did cold glances and ignorance pass as okay? I'm not exactly Captain Cheery myself, but I find that too many people are just disinterested. Too caught up in something. Too caught up in an idea of themselves that they have to keep nurturing.

I've learned that life is seriously unforgiving. I learned that as I lay there helpless in a recovery room with a tube stuck up my nose and a five feet of my intestine ripped out and an IV pumping pain killers inside me. It's serious. That wasn't the way my life was supposed to go.

But my case isn't so serious. There's people who die too early. There's kids who are dying. Think about that for a second! When did taking care of our own become more important than taking care of others?

Since when did a flag mean more than our fellow men and women and children?

I've learned the world drops a bunch of ideologies on us so that we can be okay with what we're doing. So we can sleep at night. Hey, I'm not saying I'm innocent. I'm just as guilty as anyone.

But that's not all I've learned.

I've learned that life is a circle. I've learned that from traveling. You throw your body into new places and climates to smell new things and taste new food and witness engineering marvels. We do it because it's new and we saw it on TV and we want the thrill. But all we think about when we get there is who we used to be and what happened before and how things are so much different now that we're here.

Then you leave and that place becomes a memory. That summer becomes a memory. Then you're alone out in the wilderness hiking with strangers and looking for something that you swear is just around that bend in the trail. But it's not. And you're there but you start thinking about home. And the past.

We can never go back. I've learned that some things you thought would last forever just won't. The things you were surest of are now the things you're most unsure about.

There's something we're all longing for. I guess we're all not happy. We want the story to end in such a way. Hell, we want there to even be a story in the first place. We want there to be meaning. But there's always meaning if we just look hard enough.

Life is always there whispering to you. And most times it isn't until later that we finally hear it.

Sometimes I wish to be back in moments with people I don't talk to anymore. Some of these people I don't really like anymore, but I used to like them then. For some reason my mind tricks me into thinking I was happier at that time. That everything used to be flawless. I wish I handled things differently.

There's always regrets.

And while we're off seeing things, and traveling, and thinking about who we used to be our parents are still at home getting older.

There's always an exchange in everything that we do.

Want to see the world? Fine, but you'll have to give up home for that.


There are moments.

With that song and that place and those people.

They're there when it matters. They don't nibble. They ask and they listen and then they ask some more. They are forgiving. They do have a glimmer of hope in their eyes despite the fact that they see everything you do and more.

Some people do give up though. Some people meet the world and get tossed around and decide that they've had enough. Some only live half of a life. Chasing the wrong things. Avoiding the right ones.

I've learned that's no way to live.

There's people who will use you, and won't pay you, and slap you in the face after you help them. I've learned that there really are such things as villains.

But there are heros too.

What I've learned most is the inevitability of time. I already do feel so old and I'm only 23. I was a college sophomore five years ago. I haven't talked to some people from high school in six years. I was just playing football under Friday night lights a moment ago.

One of my friends has three kids.

Time has me by the ankles and is dragging me away. I see my old life off in the distance, and it's getting smaller. I want it back. I want so much back.

But there are moments.

And you realize that you're not being dragged away from old memories, but onto new ones, and that 23 is just as young as 18, or 13, or 7 if you really think about it. Because you're here, and you're reaching, and you're finding, and you're trying.

And every now and then we do come across a perfect sunset, or those perfect pair of eyes, or that moment when they play that one song, and everything is alright again, just like it used to be.

That's what I've learned at 23.

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