...although, we know how I feel about the concept of time: It's a man-made construct, non-existent but for the meaning we ascribe to it. What's a decade? What's a year, a second, a month, a day or two or three or a million? It's nothing. It's numbers and words and expectations and pressures and calendrical reflections of hope or regret. It's a breeding ground for comparison. It's unnecessary, really.
But since here on OFUL we allow and even encourage ourselves and all others to get in touch with our basic-ness while silently and sometimes not so silently making judgments about it all, we will forgo the philosophical haughtiness of being above time, and get to comparin'!
Below, a list of 10 areas of life with burning questions answered, including but not limited to: Did it get better? Did it get worse? Did you die? Are we there yet?
1. Television (not movies) - Ten years ago, the closest I got to streaming television was borrowing (and never returning) a friend's 17-disc set of Lost. I was watching a lot of bullshit reality tv, the thought of which makes me roll my eyes deeply at myself. I guess you could say that, based on the evolution of my taste in television, I've grown up. I graduated from numbing my mind by watching bumba clot Kardashian or Real Housewives nonsense, to fostering anxiety and fear of death by binging on any terrorism-related political drama. What has remained the same throughout is my belief that I'd survive in a jungle setting with little more than a mosquito net and a switchblade (my tree-climbing island genetics are a bonus), thanks to Naked and Afraid (today) and Bear Grylls (ten years ago) and the way he siphon-sucked ocean water up his ass to hydrate (hot).
2. Technology/Social Media - I tell ya, Black Mirror's got it right! (FYI- I will probably be merging my categories because such is life.) We. are. fucked. Ten years ago, all I had was a Facebook account that has since been deactivated for 8 years, and a long-forgotten MySpace password. I wasn't addicted to any of what social media was at that time, as I think in the early-ish days, it served its intended purpose of solely connecting people/loved ones beyond distance. It has since gotten way out of control, in my opinion (and maybe experience). Regardless, social media's changing landscape has incidentally indicated zero bearing on my stalking abilities. Ten years ago, we were more of a face-to-face culture. Nowadays you can't say the word "seriously" without your phone going, "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that." Bitch, you weren't meant to catch it! On the real, technology addiction is a verified thing--my authority on this statement lies not only in my being a licensed clinician of mind tingz but also being a human being on earth right now--and only at the end of this decade would the word "verified" have a different meaning than it did ten years ago (eye roll emoji af). I remember being quite hesitant to let go of my physical address book and planner, but goddamn the iPhone for making it super convenient to have fucking everything on this little device, including the ability to book flights in less than 4 minutes, and also in that same amount of time waste $30 on games (fml). There are good things about all this technology booming, I suppose, like Amazon Prime and bluetooth in the car, but other than that, I am down to return to darker ages.
3. Exercise - Ten years ago, I was coming to terms with the denouement of a dying relationship, the weight of which had manifested in a semi-conspicuous layer of body fat. Basically, I was warming, with my fat, a heart grown cold. Lolz, jk. But anyway, I've always been into exercise and all that, to varying degrees of intensity/obsession, the most intense of which can be found in the annals of 2014. Damn was I relatively ripped then. Sure, it would be cool to look like that again, but I'm not terribly interested in working out 3 separate times a day. These days, I'm only interested in Orange muthafuckin' Theory! And an occasional yoga class. I'm also noticing how much more I have to work out to feel presentable to my naked reflection in the mirror. Last thing I've noticed is that the more I work out, the less I feel the need to reflect on my naked reflection in said mirror. With age comes dgafaf, I guess.
4a. Eating - This is one area for which that ol' saying applies: "Nothing changes if nothing changes."
2010-2019 - Improvement: minimal to moderate. Vegan attempts: 2. Taco Bell binges: intermittent with no end in sight. Number of times I personally have cooked an actual meal: too few to mention, sadly.
4b. Drinking - Ten years ago, 8 red bull vodkas (yuck) was nothing to bat an eyelash (eyelid? eye?) at, a coffee thermos of Jager and Coke (gross) was the pre-party, and rarely did I feel shitty about it, physically or otherwise. The number of times I've vomited due to drinking has increased exponentially each year, which may explain my currently 2+ months of alcohol abstinence. But there is a time and a season for everything under the heavens, and who am I to even attempt to predict such seasons in my personal life? I could be face down in my own vomit by tomorrow.
5. Travel - Ten years ago, the only countries I had traveled to outside of this glorious nation were Mexico, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Now, my current count is... 21? 22? and the number of states I've seen in this, again, glorious nation are... I'm gonna go with most of them. Thanks be to jbow for letting me tag along on tours, but also thanks to myself for being a gangster of love as well as independent travel. I am now adept as fark at packing, and have traveled internationally for extended periods with only a mother fucking carry-on. I also have resigned myself to the fact that, though I leave the house with a carry-on, there's a fat-ass chance I'll return with some janky extra bag for my useless purchases. Wish I had a janky extra bag for all the money I have spent on travel in the last ten years, but yolo or whateva, not to mention that money, too, is a man-made construct, the truth of which doesn't not hurt my feelings every time I think about my janky bag of debt, but like I said, yolo. Or whateva.
6. Creativity - I must say, travel doth ignite the fire of creativity which burns surely within us all. When I travel, I write, I photograph, I put it all together in a number of blogs, and I'm still not sure why I had to make separate ones for each major trip. Compartmentalization, friend or foe of creativity? Who knows anymore. Anyhoo, in the last ten years, I've allowed myself to, more and more, foster my creative side, of which there are several, and I must say, it feels good to express the soul's innermost workings through art. Brings me closer to myself, which reminds me of Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth talking about, Who is the I that sees? or something meta like that which rings true, yet when said aloud or written down lacks the vivaciousness of it ringing true in the soul upon reading. ...Where the fuck is this going? Okay, to get back on track - yes, creativity has been pouring (or sometimes dribbling) forth, and the question I sometimes ponder is what to do with it all, but maybe that'll be answered in the annals of 2020-2029.
7. Career/Purpose - Instead of quitting the job I had ten years ago, I simply stopped showing up regularly, as well as added more jobs. There's something to be said for job security and flexibility and bangin' health benefits, I guess. After ten years of my saying you couldn't pay me to return to school... well, I paid to return to school. More accurately, I'm still paying :/. I got my Master's degree, and am actually using it, though the advantages of having obtained a Master's in essentially examining and addressing relationships (intra- and interpersonal), have proven useful af in my own life, so really, I was investing in myself two-fold. As for purpose, well, we don't want to get me started on that. It involves a lot of Swaha-ing and talk of surrender and acceptance and being in the now, which the false self part of me is uninterested in hearing, rather seeking answers involving how I can become a billionaire without having to lift a finger or an eyelid.
8. Friendship - The good news is, midway through this past decade, thanks to grad school, I became a better friend. I can say this about myself because it was said to me by several people, and as we all know, the shared opinion of several people is sufficient to justify anything these days. The bad news is, I'm no longer taking applications. Just kidding, seriously (no, not you, Siri, please stop). But truly, if you go back into your email archives and read what you wrote to people 10 years ago and cringe or feel otherwise nauseated, then you can imagine the change I have undergone as a person, and subsequently as a friend.
I've also learned the power of boundaries, as well as been tickled in observing my dwindling interest in throwing reserves of energy that I don't have to friendships. When you've had friends for ages and ages, or have found new friends with whom you mesh af (this number is low, but beloved, in comparison to the former), you really don't need to overdo it. A sprinkle goes a long way. And for those who consistently need more than a sprinkle, well, I just don't really have the time, energy or desire for that. Luckily we all seem to be growing at that particular rate, so no one's getting butt-hurt, yay.
9. Emotional/Spiritual/Mental - If I were to get heavily in depth (but I'm starting to get tired of writing, as the year is almost over and I want this done now), this section would begin with my remembering the days I'd wake up and the first thought/word out of my being would be a heavy sigh, followed by "...fuck." I wouldn't go so far as to say I was losing interest in continuing to kick it on this planet, but I was definitely feeling a general sense of over it-ness. The pre-middle section would introduce my clumsy and self-conscious introduction to yoga, as well as the clumsy and self-conscious intro to introspection. This part was filled with a lot of tears and what the fuck's and what am I doing with my life's. The middle of this section continues my journey through a spaced-out, unsponsored, brown girl version of Eat, Pray, Love, during which I contracted Bali belly, Delhi belly, Montezuma's revenge, and maybe a UTI. Honestly, not too bad when you consider the possibilities of murder and being taken, not in that order. The penultimate section might center on feelings of not quite unrequited love and learning to surrender, which would then bring us to the now, in which the now is all that exists, and in the now, all is perfect and as it should be, and in which the answer to every possible version of "what the fuck" lies in, no shit, just breathing, and watching the breath.
10. Love - Love. Love is a many-splendored thing. Love hurts. Love stinks. Just kidding. Love in its TRUEST sense is devoid of all fuckery, including ups and downs, but as we did above to the concept of time, so shall we relegate ourselves to speaking of love in the sense of romance and such. Ten years ago, I was nine years into a relationship that really should have ended probably nine months into it (I'm sure he would agree - ooo, extremely delayed ex-it interview forthcoming, for sure), but who's counting? I think it all happens as it should, and anyway, ten years ago I was ten months away from meeting my current and in all likelihood, forevs partner in love, life, travel, tv-binging, and all sorts of other fun and not so fun stuff. You really never know the course in which the river of your life will flow. Relationships are a wild ride, and I suppose a few of the biggest lessons in love that I've been lucky enough to learn are that everything passes, openness is ultimate, and that we are all just mirrors of and for each other, in service of growth and understanding. And if you can find a mirror who doesn't turn away or hiss at you when you're feeling or being ugly (talking in metaphors, obvs), then you're golden. I'm no guru, but that's my eleven cents.
*The Eyebrows up there - Legit thought that the changes would be more discernible, but it's just my fucking eyebrow drawn in very subtly differing shades and sizes of the same brown. What a first-world curse to have to draw on my eyebrows every day that I choose to wear makeup, and no, I will not get my eyebrows tattooed to my face, nor will I cease wearing corded earbuds or begin to anthropomorphize words like "story" or "community", which seem to have exploded pretentiously onto the scene of life. But love to you anyway if you're a consumer/victim.