Six Flags, August 2018
W and I didn’t have much money in college. It was always a somewhat frightening thing going to the ATM. This was not to say I didn’t come from a well-to-do family (I do) but it didn’t mean that my parents gave me much. I was on a scholarship so they expected me to get by which I did.
We took some gambles. Both W and I were on a ‘the meal plan’ which meant that our food was covered but we decided to cancel it, receive the money instead and figure out a better way to get food. We realized that with some balancing we could actually stretch our money at eat an Indian restaurant every day for lunch. I think over two years no one ate there more than us, not even the staff because we were there every day.
While we lived in relative luxury in some ways compared to other students, we didn’t partake in other things they did. One of the trips organised by the college was to Six Flags. I think a cost a few hundred dollars and that was just something we didn’t have.
I left W at the train station after I graduated and we cried a little. Actually, I cried a lot. We didn’t know when we would see each other again. It took about three years, I think before we did. I’ll have to check with him. Time had passed and we were working our first jobs. We had come through the other side and were relatively unscathed. We had some money now and naturally the first thing we did was to figure out a way to get to Six Flags.
W had never been on a roller coaster before so we took the most gentle one. The straps came down and we were off. I looked to my right and I just saw him with his eyes bulging, petrified. I asked him after why he wasn’t screaming and he said that he was just too surprised to. We spent the entire day at Six Flags and lived it all, in our way, on our own time.
We’ve done a lot of things as friends together since then and the one thing I think about is what one can achieve by committing and locking in. I think of roller coasters and doing the loops and all that stuff. You can only really be free in a greater sense if you’re secure in a smaller way.
I think of relationships. If you’re secure in what you have and how you are together, you can take on larger projects as a pair. Whether it be traveling across the world or having kids. You have to be strong together to not be torn apart by outside forces. There are a lot of outside forces, especially in the interesting places.
I think that’s what commitment is. It’s the decision to bond together so that you can do things together. There’s a shadow part of me that is confused by low committal connections but I have to look back at myself and my own life and see that not everyone is worth committing to and that I’ve lived in an abundance of people worth committing to and worth going places with.
There is no way that I would have had the guts or skill to navigate all the way to Tromsø. Sometimes we stand at the edge of a cliff and the only difference between us jumping or not is whether there is someone on the other side who might catch us if we don’t quite make it the entire way or maybe someone on the other side who tells us it’s worth jumping for.
There’s something also quite clarifying about locking in and committing. We all have energy but it can be dissipated. Things can leak out and pool around us. Progress is about focus, progress is about a step forward. There’s an old guy on instagram that really likes burning things. He has this window sized magnifying glass and he concentrates the sun onto the smallest point. He burns through almost anything, wood, metal and even stone. By focusing a normal sun ray onto a particular point he’s able to make lava in his backyard. If this isn’t a metaphor I don’t know what is.
We must also caveat this talk about focus with an understanding of exploration. I think of a race car driver wiggling in his seat before strapping in. You have to learn about yourself and see how you sit, how you fit into the world. Try different configurations. I know someone who cycled through dozens of jobs before landing on the one that made sense for the rest of his life. I think the same could apply to relations or hobbies or anything, really. Keep trying because all the trying teaches you about something. Sometimes you find that something and the floor gives out and you want to get to the bottom of it. Sometimes there is no bottom and that’s a beautiful thing. Strap in and see how far the rabbithole goes.
Right now, I feel snug like a bug in a rug. I feel like things make sense. I feel like I know what to and the people I want to do it with. Maybe it’s like one of those Ocean’s 11 movies where the team is assembled and all that there is to do is to go for it. Sometimes it takes a while to find everyone but that’s ok, that’s part of it. I’m not sure how many people think of marriages like this but I think when the couple does their vows of ’til death do us part’ etc. it’s a pact. It’s a promise to say that whatever life throws at us we are going to make it and we need each other in order to do that. I want to quote my favourite passage gifted to me by a great person.
“When I take you to the Valley, you’ll see the blue hills on the left and the blue hills on the right, the rainbow and the vineyards under the rainbow late in the rainy season, and maybe you’ll say, “There it is, that’s it!” But I’ll say. “A little farther.” We’ll go on, I hope, and you’ll see the roofs of the little towns and the hillsides yellow with wild oats, a buzzard soaring and a woman singing by the shadows of a creek in the dry season, and maybe you’ll say, “Let’s stop here, this is it!” But I’ll say, “A little farther yet.” We’ll go on, and you’ll hear the quail calling on the mountain by the springs of the river, and looking back you’ll see the river running downward through the wild hills behind, below, and you’ll say, “Isn’t that the Valley?” And all I will be able to say is “Drink this water of the spring, rest here awhile, we have a long way yet to go and I can’t go without you.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home