The abyss (and other concerns)

Sunday, March 19, 2017 - 5:43pm

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How lucky is it that, for whatever reason, every once in awhile fate and timing meld together in serendipitous chance to present opportunity?

(There’s a right answer to this: extremely lucky.)

To disregard these instances is complete nonsense, but it’s a trap I fall into sometimes — too many times. Actually, all the time.

Directed by Nick Vitale, Michael Schwartz and story-writer Tyler Nilson, "The Moped Diaries "  (2014) is a heartbreakingly stunning depiction of one man’s tumultuous coming-of-age journey through all the ways love kicked him in the shin and picked him back up again.

The 11-minute narrative short film follows Levi, a young boy growing up on Colington Island right off the coast of North Carolina, through the literal and spiritual losses of his parents, his brother and his first love. Familial love, romantic love, self-love; the story takes turns swiping each away from Levi, leaving one void to be filled by another.

At the end of his grief and the beginning of his resolution, Levi doesn’t just take a chance on his life; he takes a chance on himself. Having grown up to experience the utterly shattering, beautifully wretched sides of relationships, he takes to his moped in a moment of intense clarity. Now, an adult with nowhere to go, he finds solace in the fact that the only place to move is forward. In the last couple minutes of the short, a Wes Anderson-esque sequence of events unfolds as Nilson voices what my heart always knew and my mind was too afraid to think: “You have to step out into the unknown and just pray the road will rise to meet you. And it will. It has to.”

For an inexcusable length of my life, I’ve pushed off applying for this or going after that with the mindset: What if the reality I’ve dreamed of attaining isn’t what I thought it would be? Or worse, what if I’m not well-suited for it? Constantly waiting for hopes to become experiences, I have allowed flashes of outstanding harmony to slip away into “should haves” or “what ifs.”

I’m terrified of the abyss of life because, more than just being inherently daunting, it’s intangibly promising. Of all the lessons Levi’s adventure taught me, one that sticks out most prominently is this: To let heartaches of the past or anxieties for the future dictate current choices is a miraculous misuse of the present.

The summer of 2014, I was frantically searching for something to do with myself when I was struck with a moment of not wanting to do anything at all. I wasn’t lazy; I was scared. I had my eye on a writing program in Chicago (rather, I had my heart on a writing program in Chicago), and being the dramatic, angsty teen I was, I was stuck in a state of perpetually questioning my own abilities. If I went to this program and I was an epic, absolute, fantastic failure –– well that would really suck. But for the first time in my life, I wasn’t an idiot, and I actually applied for this experience.

So, I went, and I wasn’t the worst at it. Finally ignoring the voice in my head that forever thrived on repressing my real dreams for the ones I thought were more practical, I finally hurdled into the type of world I only ever wished I could live in.

Something I have had to learn the hard way is that there’s no right time to start being the person I’ve always wanted to be. The notion that I’m waiting for some optimal moment in which I can launch my life is ridiculous. It has just been a way for me to fool myself into believing that indulging in the fear of living is somehow OK. I call bullshit on all of it.

There’s no perfect moment for anything. Perfection is strived toward and worked for, but it doesn’t actually exist. If it did, the art of risk-taking would disappear. No one in this world has ever achieved anything by sitting around and waiting for life to happen to them, and the future is only as full as you allow yourself to make it. The greatest experiences are a result of surrendering to the wildest possibilities.

Tragedy doesn’t spare anyone, but neither does joy. I might as well stop fearing the abyss because the abyss will not cease to exist until I do. At some point, at this point, I’ve just got to strap on my helmet, get on my moped and begin.