Safety Not Guaranteed

April 19, 2013


I have no idea why I chose that particular title for this blog. Frankly, I was just thinking of the movie and it seemed slightly… maybe a little… not very applicable to my current train of thought. Right now I’m “home” in Dallas, recharging my batteries. The main purpose behind this was to lighten my load of winter clothes that I needed year round in San Francisco before heading off to warmer climates… wherever they may be. I’m spoiled in this respect, having a place to store my things: two shelves, an old childhood trunk, and a safe. I try to pair things down whenever I return to my parent’s place to reduce my dependence on stuff and raise a little cash.

So, where am I? Pretty much torn apart. Part of me is willing to just hop a flight to Nicaragua for a few weeks until my brother’s wedding in Chicago to reduce the financial burden. Another part says I should save those miles (17,500) for a more sustainable trip. After all, what’s the point in going somewhere for just a few weeks, with no plan in mind? I should listen to myself sometimes… the drive to just travel for travel’s sake isn’t really satisfying me anymore, nor is working for travel’s sake. I’m searching for fulfillment in work and life.

Finding my passion, giving myself to a cause would not only allow me to feel better about in what direction I’m headed, but also most likely have the affect of attracting friends. Unfortunately, I am beyond picky. Maybe picky isn’t the best choice of words, but I have not found a job I can do for any amount of time that makes me feel like I’m truly accomplishing something. Although I respect people doing such work, I tend to believe that few of them, the minority of the world’s population, are using their time wisely. I say this not with condescension: after all, they could be doing it to make a better life for their kids, or trying to survive until they do find their passion. How many out there are truly doing what they want to do and feeling fulfilled? Certainly not retail workers.

For me, that includes: marketing, teaching (some fulfillment, but not total), travel writing (yep, even this), engineering, politics, you name it. I’m trying not to be cynical, but every time I consider a new job, I just can’t imagine how my actions there would positively influence society and the world. All it would do is eat up time until I’m in my grave. So I get a position as an entry-level aerospace engineer and build airplanes for twenty years: how has that helped the world? I might have the chance to make rich people richer, affect a ripple in an ocean. Even volunteer work is lacking in this respect. In fact, it’s even more daunting. So what if I helped build emergency housing in Haiti? The country will remain poor; people will still need more; and this is just one country… how do my actions solve poverty, eliminate hunger, cure everyone who’s sick? I fail to see how the effects people who have dedicated their entire lives to an unsurmountable cause – Paul Farmer, for example – will last.

To me (and I stress, this is just how I see it), it seems like a lot of people are cannon fodder; they may be passionate about charging the field of battle in pursuit of their dreams, but what purpose did their lives serve? It’s a minor miracle I’m even writing this blog, as I know few, if any, will read it; it won’t affect the course of human history, and maybe not even that of one individual. I want to clarify: I don’t need every one of my actions to have cosmic significance, but I do expect to start laying the groundwork for something great. I just have no clue what that is, or how to get there from here. It’s a paralysis in and of itself.

In my opinion, San Francisco just isn’t a place where I can uncover this meaning, my grand design. Although I still enjoy waking up to bridges, mountains, old buildings, and water, I don’t think it’s a place for growing up. In fact, it reminds me more of being at university: roommates are practically required in the city, even by working professionals; no one seems to have a fixed schedule, hanging out in the parks on weekdays; there’s a real laid back attitude to the city, which makes it ideal for tourism and those with care free lifestyles, but not for those seeking purpose.

I’m still researching opportunities abroad, but for what I think is the first time in my life, I feel completely open ended. When I was in high school I waited for college. From college, work. From work, Japan. From Japan, Thailand. From Thailand, New Zealand. From New Zealand… well, there wasn’t anything here either, but I picked up a job so quickly after the holidays I don’t really think I thought too much about the future and my purpose (i.e. I just assumed I’d be traveling forever). Then came Korea, and San Francisco. And now here I am, with few debts, few possessions, few assets, few ties, and just the open future. It’s terrifying.

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