I left high school in 1998 and never looked back. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of others.
A couple of weeks ago I was walking on the street when a woman stopped me to ask if I remembered her, and I replied “no, I’m sorry, I don’t.” She told me that we went to high school together for five years (back then we had an OAC year) and that we hung out frequently. Eventually I did remember her and we exchanged pleasantries.
She started to update me about high school friends when I stopped her. “You know,” I said, “I left high school back in 1998 and never went back. I hope everyone from that time is doing well, but I am not really interested in their lives.”
Her face went gaunt.
I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just didn’t care who was married to who, how many kids they had or when they got divorced. None of that is particularly interesting to me. I truly hope they’re all doing well, but my life is here, in the present, not in the past. Certainly my life isn’t pre-occupied in the details of anyone else’s personal, private matters, either.
It can’t be stressed enough how little I care about the personal and private lives of other people. It’s none of my business, and I don’t find any of it interesting. Not in the slightest. I have a strong distaste for provincial mindedness. Talking about other people is the most provincial anyone can possibly get. I’d prefer to talk about ideas.
I remember a friend Lisa always updating me on the lives of our former high school friends. Peter Gore is doing this, or Peter Gal is doing that. Someone got fat, someone got divorced, someone is bald now, and I’m like, ‘yawn’. People like this are not only boring they are bored, or even dissatisfied with their own lives. That’s why they obsess over other people. I think this is why they are fixated with the personal relationships and lives of celebrities. They simply have either no interests, no hobbies, nothing else to occupy their minds or their time with, so, celebrities it is.
The last time I visited Brampton was back in 2007. I vaguely remember a return to have lunch with my mother but I cannot remember the year. I left that life behind because I have a much better one now.
I envisioned this woman who was standing in front of me returning to her high school chums to explain how fat or bald I’ve gotten since the last time she saw me. Well, yeah, I was 18 then, I’m 43 now. I’m not going to look like I did then because aging is a real thing. Nature is real. We all age.
All I remember about high school was how much I couldn’t wait for it to be over. There was so much I couldn’t be at that time in my life. University was my first exploration into who I was. I had to figure out my sexuality, I had to explore my own body, my own impulses and desires, who I truly was. It takes a lot of time to come to terms with who one really is but you have to put in the work, risk the humiliation.
What I find now at 43 is that life is not perfect, it never will be, because there is no such thing as perfect. There are so many restrictions people want to place on you. They want you to live your life under their idea of normal and they’ll simply ridicule you when you naturally fail at doing that. It’s so, forgive me, high school.
But you can’t care. The greatest gift I ever gave myself was the permission not to care what others thought. When I compare my life to theirs, I’m pretty satisfied where I ended up.
I haven’t trapped myself into believing there is such a thing as normal, or that there is such a thing as nirvana, or a haven, or karma, or whatever people spend so much time worrying about. Live your life, accept the setbacks, get back up and don’t blame anyone else for where you ended up. I guide my own life, no one else.
You know, I write this often, but I believe that true happiness comes with the understanding that the simple pleasures are what make a life worthwhile. Waking up in the early morning to watch the sun cascade over the high-rises. The sound of a rustled leaf in the breeze. The smell of a syringa, the sight of green grass. Being near water. It has nothing to do with trying to be ‘cool’ or focusing on how others perceive you, or cultivating a trendy, edgy image. None of that matters.
I don’t spend my time in misery and wondering what could have been or what should have been, or what can be, because I have the life I want.
Very few people can say that. I have the life I want.