When you're young, or at least when you're a young person who reads a lot of Romantic poetry and hasn't seen a lot of life, there's a certain naivety to the way you perceive life as a whole and it shapes the way you live every day. Eventually though, sometime or another, this perception will break and your life will be irrevocably changed. Whether this change occurs in a sudden dramatic shattering of the perception, or whether it slowly breaks down over a long drawn out period of miserable time is irrelevant. What matters is that it WILL break down regardless of how hard you try to cling to your youthful idealism, and when it does break, you have no choice but to open your eyes to the new world and face it with whatever semblance of strength your left with.
In my life, this breaking down of idealism and youthful hope happened when I was nineteen. During the two years before, a lot of really wretched, unfortunate things had happened and my life had fallen apart. After falling out after falling out, I was no longer on speaking terms with my parents or siblings, and I was lost very far from home. I was wandering around California and Oregon, staying here and there. No idea what to do next. Yet I was still clinging to the last shards of this terrible idealism that was the very essence of what had lead me down this lost road in the first place. To cut a very long story short, I had been a lonely, misfit kid all through my early teenaged years. During that time a married woman had taken an interest in me. At eighteen we sort of mutually fell into a passion that felt like fate itself. A year later, I had no friends and effectively no family and was living in an unfinished basement in a little rainy house in Portland Oregon.
After several months of practically no sleep and indescribable quantities of tequila I finally hit this point where I was walking around in circles in that unfinished basement room listening to Lana Del Rey and trying to keep myself from feeling sick over the marijuana scent that still lingered heavily throughout the from, leftovers from the previous inhabitants. Anyway, I was pacing around in the middle of the night and that Lana song came on, Gods and Monsters, and I heard that line "No one's gonna take my soul away, Living like Jim Morrison, headed for a fucked up holiday" and that line crystalized things for me. I realized that what I had been doing wrong was that I was holding on too tightly to my soul, or that odd and overpoweringly dangerous idea that was my projection of a soul. At that moment and with that realization, I shut my eyes tight and suddenly I envisioned myself holding my soul in my clenched fist, this sort of bright, white light that was trying to get away. So I opened my hand and let it fly away.
My problem was that half of me had chosen a sort of purgation and eventual damnation, while the other half continued to cling to that childlike innocence and idealism. Now I let both go. Shortly after this, I packed up my bags again and left Portland, making my way back to Kansas. I remember showing up at my sister's house that fall in a torn flannel shirt and quite a ragged beard for a nineteen year old. I was thin as a skeleton, more dead than alive, but it was time to make a new choice, something different than before. I chose something New.