LIAM CULLINS

A Return to the Old Road

My biggest worries always seem to stem from the future. I’m not a man who typically dwells on the past, but in retrospect, my sophomore year in high school was one of the better years in recent memory. I was in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in my life, I was just beginning to discover my love of music, something I would eventually go on to study in college, and I even started to flex those creative muscles. However, one of the things that I’ve always regretted to this day, even if it rarely comes to the forefront of my mind, is turning my back on the craft of writing.

I was one a prominent member of a website called Figment, which is a platform where aspiring teen writers could go and share their work, provide and receive critical feedback from other writers, and are even given specific writing challenges and enter contests. I was proud of the work I did there, and had close to 100 followers before I finally decided to pursue a degree in music at the University of Southern Maine.

My mind seems to work in strange ways. Most of the time, I’m of the mindset that I can only pursue one hobby at a time, and if I want to make any sort of living off of it, it has to consume everything I do and be the sole focus in my life, otherwise my work will never amount to anything. This is a mistake that I continue to make to this day. Picture a man at a place in the road where it branches off into eight separate paths; some look more hospitable than others, but there’s no telling where each path leads. The man in question is so overwhelmed and afraid of losing his way, feeling as if the decision of what course to take is irreversible once it’s been made, that he simply cannot bring himself to choose a path. He lies there in the dirt, just dreaming and musing about his own existence until his life is spent, and he dies having accomplished nothing.

This is just one of the many fears that plagues my mind right now as I sit here writing this, just shy of two weeks away from my 21st birthday, already concerned that my existence on this planet will be of zero consequence. Perhaps it’s egotistical of me to think that I deserve better than to just be an average Joe, lost in the sea of seven billion faces. However, as I’ve stated before in a discussion with my friend, if I were an atheist, I would certainly be a nihilist as well, and most likely would’ve already committed suicide. Even if you’re of the mindset that man can find purpose without God, I’d argue that you’re still nothing. Your leave your mark on the world, and you become dust within the earth. Human life goes on, on this immeasurably small speck in this vast, chaotic celestial soup of oxygen, hydrogen, and helium. If nothing within this chaotic void ends us beforehand, five billion years from now, the sun will run out of precious hydrogen, expanding and annihilating our squishy, vulnerable planet Earth, human life being wiped off the map. Again, inevitably, you amount to nothing.

I’m not saying that this is my view on the world. I’m simply stating that this is an extension of my paranoia concerning the possibility of my own irrelevancy. Perhaps it’s a side effect of being alone for too long. I have a family that I love, and that loves me, and I have good friends, but what I’m referring to is having a love, a significant other. Years ago, having a lifetime partner was the farthest thing from my mind. Then I met Nora Birch.

nora_portrait_crop

It’s so strange to think about her nowadays. It’s like it was another lifetime that I knew her. She was such an integral part of who I was, who I strove to be, and what I strove to do. I had never understood how people around my age were so tied up in relationships; I personally thought they were overrated. Not a day goes by that I wish I could have her back, no matter what ended up becoming of our relationship. And not a day goes by that I regret the final conversation I had with her. It wasn’t the worst one we ever had, but it seems so meaningless now knowing that those were the final words we spoke to each other. My heart aches thinking about her as I write.

And now I’m here, stuck in the crossroads I’ve built for myself, grasping at straws as to how I should try and touch people’s lives. First it was music, but I burnt myself out way too quickly by piling on the projects, thinking I could somehow make it all work on top of homework and a day job. Then it was game commentary, something my friends Mike Barnhart and Alex Deschaine and I had been planning for months before finally starting. Now, due to recent weather and illness, it’s already fraying at the seams. Recently, it was the mere idea of starting a podcast in place of the game commentary channel. See how I contribute to my own anxiety? Creative people seem to be the most easily depressed and overwhelmed, in my opinion. Now I understand why. I’ve decided that for the time being, I will focus my solo effort on this blog.

Thank you for reading. I’ll leave you with this song, one that I always play and sing along to when I think of Nora, or feel depressed in general. God bless.

Featured image art by Megan McAvoy.

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