2009.04.10 identity crisis*:

* "Crisis" is definitely overstating it a bit, but nevertheless…

Earlier tonight, I told an old friend that "I couldn't be happier with where my life has led," and, of course, that is true. What i've been struggling with the last few years has been the "where."

In high school, i wanted nothing more than to start my own business, be my own boss, stay in the hick town where I grew up and be a "computer consultant" (whatever the hell that means.) I knew that I would a) be awesome at it, and b) be totally happy with my life. Instead—when i realized my father's brain would melt and my mother's heart would flop right out of her chest if I didn't—i went to college.

In college, i met some awesome creative people, broke out of my mold, and made sweeping plans for taking over the world with the most profound art, music, and literature the world had ever seen, together with this band of misfit geniuses in whom I'd found a family.

Then the 'net happened and I found another niche. I was going to carry this empire of sight, sound, and word into the year 2000, and become the best damned webmaster this side of the Mississippi. I was going to shift paradigms, set trends, and lead the denizens of the 'net to the next level. Not that I could see what that next level was yet, but that was my plan.

Luckily, I landed a job that let me do the only thing that I'd really want to sit still long enough to get paid for. Unfortunately, i discovered that it wasn't always possible to innovate on a deadline, for the kind of clients a high priced web firm dealt with. That, and I didn't have the base skills to really push the envelope. I was, after all, entirely self-taught.

As technology progressed, I collected plans and hoarded them for "when I had time." My work, psycho ex-girlfriends, the internet, and my plans themselves sapped my energy to the point where little got done. Occasionally, I'd have a burst of activity, and accomplish something neat, or push a pet project a little farther up the hill. Then I'd go back to the news feeds, or the game of Dune, or whatever.

I was going to be a first-rate poet, the next Kerouac, a top notch photographer, a musician, a publisher, a record producer, a freelance web guru, a gallery owner, a coffee shop owner… the list goes on.

It's taken me a few years, but slowly, I've realized that I can't do it all. And those grandiose plans I made years ago—the empire I built on dreams—depended on that family of friends as a static, unchanging unit with infinite reserves of energy and patience. To meet my dreams, my friends would have had to stay just as they were.

What I've come to realize is not that I can't count on my friends (because I know they'll support me in whatever I choose to do), but just that my friends have their own lives, and plans, and dreams. I can't package them up into mine, any more than they can package me up into theirs.

So I have been converging on this point, where I have to figure out two things: what I want to do, and what I can do. With all these grandiose plans I've made, which are the feasible, workable notions, and which are the pipe dreams?

These were the thoughts that, late last year, and early this year, brought me to re-dedicate myself to my writing. I still have lots of plans, little things I'd like to do, but, when push comes to shove, my writing comes first. Someday, perhaps I'll be able to expand my arena again, but right now, I have to seize my opportunities and focus on a smaller set of goals.

To a certain extent, the old Coffeemonk Design Flaws empire is seeing a sunset. The name "Coffeemonk Design Flaws" was always Bob's thing anyway, and without his participation, it has long felt hollow.

I'm still working out the details in my head, but very likely, bipolar as well.

This, then, is not as much an identity crisis, as it is an identity acknowledgement. This is the happiness to which my life has led me…


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