Have you ever felt lost? Disconnected? We've all encountered those moments, when the world seems quiet and we are left only with the company of our own thoughts, that make you feel adrift. Whether it's a transition from one path to another, or the start of an entirely new journey, these little lulls cross our paths sooner or later. As this week's guest, Ryan Blewett, illustrates, however, our lost moments also extend opportunities for clarity.
I’ve had a weird year.
Probably the weirdest year I’ve ever had. Within a few months I was kicked out of my apartment, fired from my job, and sent to the emergency room, twice. That sent me for a real loop. It put a strain on a lot of different parts of my life, financially and socially and a few other -"ly" words. Some deeper part of me knew that there had to be some light at the end of the tunnel, but boy did it seem bleak for a few weeks.
Right in the middle of all that I had a serious reaction to eating peanuts. I’ve been allergic my entire life, but it’s been a few years since I’ve had any issues. Cut to me in a hospital and things were probably way worse than I actually admitted to anyone. I’ll spare you the details, but death seemed like a pretty realistic outcome on that day.
I had a good friend stick around in the hospital with me. He was at the restaurant that had unintentionally poisoned me and probably felt some sort of obligation to hang out. That wasn’t totally necessary, but it was nice and probably helped my mental state.
That night, I walked out of the hospital with my friend. I joked about wanting to get ice cream because I had such a bad day. I didn’t end up getting ice cream that night, just a regular night’s sleep and a frantic conversation with my understandably worried girlfriend.
I think I’m probably a person that tries to find meaning where there isn’t necessarily meaning to be found. I won’t get into that. My point is that after the peanut incident, I tried to find some meaning. What was the point of my life in the face of imminent death?
I don’t have an answer for that. It’s been a few months and I still don’t. I went through the motions, grappled with the angel of death and then joked about getting ice cream. I hoped that I would have some profound revelation about what my purpose was or something like that. Instead, I woke up the next morning with the same laziness that had accompanied every morning before it. I was unchanged.
I’m still looking for the meaning of that day. I’m probably hopeful that in the blackest night I’ll be able to hold onto the light that was turned on. Meaning, purpose, whatever you want to call it. It’s the larger umbrella that keeps my smaller actions in check.
I still don’t have the answers. I was as close to death as anyone else, and still don’t know how to talk about it. I’m still breathing, still talking, still walking, still typing these words. I wish I had some insight, some piece of knowledge to pass on from the brink, but I don’t. I’m the same person I was, just a few months older.
I really like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Like, I really, really, like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. I think about him pretty much every day.
“Be relentless in your pursuit of excellence.” The Rock posted that on Instagram once, and it became permanently stuck in my craw. It gets me out of bed literally every morning. The alarm goes off, I groan and snooze it, but realize what I want to do that day: relentlessly pursue excellence.
Dwayne probably isn’t a good actor in the traditional sense, but that doesn’t really mean anything. He’s charismatic as hell and a real joy to watch. It’s a lot more than that, though. The Rock is a guy who works hard and gets results. He’s the absolute ideal—wake up before the sun, workout, get buff, work hard, make movies that are seen by the entire world. It makes sense. He’s genuine, unjaded, and humble.
I want to be all of those things. I want to say what I mean and mean what I do. I strive to be more like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson everyday and I think the world would probably be a better place if more people did the same.
I have a friend who posts on social media a lot. Every single outing includes an Instagram post, an Instagram story, a Snapchat story, a Facebook geotag, and maybe a tweet if we’re feeling lucky. It’s overwhelming and often catches a rise from me.
We’re several layers disconnected from what we’re doing. We do things, and then take a picture to additionally give the appearance that we did that thing. In a lot of cases, people aren’t even doing the thing, just taking the picture. It’s a performance.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media. It’s not terribly hard to wrangle using it with getting out and engaging with life. But often they seem to cancel it out. We can’t fathom the beauty of the Grand Canyon if we need to admire it through a screen. It’s fine to share that, but I don’t know if we’re sharing it for the right reasons.
It comes down to connection. We want to feel like there’s someone else out there, because we’re all worried about the darkness. The void. The possibility that our existence is singular and meaningless. So, we put out 140 characters to an anonymous audience and feel good when someone clicks the ‘like’ button. It’s a temporary ejection seat from loneliness. Temporary being the key word. You will always feel lonely. Even in the happiest marriage, in the most productive job, you will have a minute where you question yourself. That’s not going away, so it’s best to wrestle with it instead of flee.
I’m no better than my friend. I still think I’m funny, still think I’m an artist, and post from time to time across social media. I’m not doing anything to fix the problem, just venting quietly to whoever will listen. But I still try to keep the phone away for extended moments, during critical times and days that I don’t want to forget. Because an image on the internet may live forever, but a memory can only fade if it was made in the first place.
I don’t remember the last time I’ve done a puzzle, but lately I’ve been thinking about getting one. I’m a bit of an impulsive buyer, so that might be part of it, but I think there’s something therapeutic and nice about a puzzle. A box of pieces that make a bigger thing, where we can look at the picture on the box to guide us. I used to build Legos a lot for the same reason; it makes sense. You get the pieces you need, nothing more and nothing less.
We’re all a lot of pieces. Little odds and ends. Big things and small things. Things that haunt us, things that lift us up. Things that wouldn’t make sense together if you hadn’t subconsciously put them together.
I don’t know anything. I know who I am right now, I know what I’ve done, but I don’t know what I’m getting after. I’m chasing happiness, chasing a mission statement that changes far more often than the weather.
I am fragments. Not pieces of a puzzle, just scattered bits that fit together in some places but are still seeking completion in others.
It’s often frustrating to leave it at that. It’s one of the reasons I love writing movies and books, there’s a beginning, middle and end. A sense of conclusion that leans us into meaning. Meaningis self-imposed, like most things. Things happen and then we arrange them in a particular order. Unfortunately for this time, there is no box top for reference.
I’ve never been to China. I want to, but it hasn’t happened yet. Yet, I can close my eyes and picture the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the smoggy Beijing cityscape. All of those details are real and inside my head, down to the tiniest blade of grass.
This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original thoughts & expressions of the author.