Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Pocket Project

I am turning 31 tomorrow. And I will be honest, I am not happy about it. I don’t know what it is exactly… I suppose it is the underlying idea of what I thought my life would be like at 31 and the realization that it is not that way. Essentially, I thought that at 31 my life would be more put together.

I remember thinking in high school that 30 is officially “old.” Of course, what did I know in high school? But I think many of us have the opinion that 30 is when things settle down a little- the wishy-washiness and the confusion of our twenties, figuring out what the life is about and how to do it- finally crystallizes into something concrete: a career, a marriage, a family, a home. That’s what I had thought anyway. So I suppose in comparison to this fictional “me” that I created in my head, the real me is a far cry from all of that.

I am not someone who freaks out at every birthday. In fact, I never had an issue with age. My close friends know that I actually have some weird subconscious habit of rounding up my age. Some time usually around the end of summer, I begin telling people that I am a year older than what I am. It is not that I wish this like a five year old who says “I am 5 and ¾.” On the contrary, in the moment, I am generally not even aware that I do this. Friends would usually point it out to me before I even noticed. Even turning 30 didn’t really make any waves in my life.



This year, though, my subconscious did not round up… This is the first year that my birthday has really made me think.

In this hard look at my life, I also realized that I am at the end of one of my lists. I am a fairly compulsive list maker (another truth my friends can attest to). I make lists for the day, lists for the week, lists for things to do in a new city, lists for my visitors of things to do in my new city, lists for the immediate future and lists for the far future, i.e. goals for my life.

It is this last list that has worn a little thin. On the positive side, I have accomplished many of the things I wanted to do: learn a new language (Italian), live in a country where I don’t speak the language (Germany), work for the U.N. (WFP), complete a marathon (Rome), sky dive (Atlanta), and learn tango (weekend course in DC- yet this is highly debatable due to a wacko teacher). Of course, I still have things I want to do (pet a baby lion at a rescue farm in South Africa) and many places I want to see (like Australia, hopefully to see a kangaroo in the wild). These I will get to when the time and money become available.

And in the big picture, there are plenty of things that I want in life that haven’t yet materialized (mainly the ones I listed in fictional me). But I have realized that most of the big things are not completely in my control. So having these on the list is not particularly useful to me.

So as I am waiting for the next inspiration to dictate my next marathon-type undertaking, and as I let life unfold in its own time for the biggest stuff, I am reminded of a project I started about 10 years ago, in 2000, when I went to live in Rome for the first time.

My zest for my semester abroad and new life in Italy developed into the idea that I wanted to use up every moment I had there- not to waste a single breath being in such an incredible place, to try everything I could think of and fill up every day with new experiences.

This led to the idea of what I am naming, “the pocket project.” I would write down one new thing on a piece of paper and stick it in my pocket. The idea was that I had to complete that new thing by the end of the day before changing for bed and taking off my pants with the paper in the pocket. Mainly due to logistical reasons, this project didn’t last too long as is. But I retained that philosophy of trying new things at every chance I got. Even today, I routinely seek out something new to do or try, which, as I have pointed out in this blog, is part of living as if you are a tourist.

So true to this blog and true to this spirit of adventure, I have decided to resurrect the pocket project for my 31st year. I will not likely follow the original logistics of this idea as the stumbling blocks of pocketless clothing or rushed mornings would needlessly get in the way. Instead, I will just allow the day to unfold whatever the new opportunities, big or very small, might be, and I will ensure to complete one before going to bed.

I will have to work out how to incorporate this into the blog. I have rarely had daily internet access, and I can foresee some of my new things being dull to anyone other than me, e.g. trying a new type of soda counts, yet is not exceptionally exciting. So I will work that out as I go.

My hope is that, by putting the small day-to-day adventures in the foreground of my life, I am learning how to live as proof that each day is valuable, that each day is one for learning and that each day is a goal in it of itself and in the meantime, the big stuff will work itself out in the background.


does this look like a tango class to you?

2 comments:

  1. BIG K - first things first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    now that that's out of the way, your 'pocket project' sounds like a great idea! have you heard of the 365 project? it's a challenge to take a photo every day: http://365project.org/

    since i know you love taking pictures, maybe you could try snapping a photo of the new thing you try every day, which would serve as a natural tie-in to the blog. even if you don't have daily internet access, i've seen blogs that post regular weekly round-ups of pix from the last 7 days. of course, it may be more challenging capturing some new experiences rather than others (singing a song in swahili vs. trying a new soda), but maybe those photos would end up being the most fun? ;)

    xoxoxo, hope you have a wonderful day!

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  2. Thanks Jules! No I had not heard about that, but taking pictures is right up my alley, so I will definitely try to incorporate that! we'll see how it works... :)

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