Pondering Ulysses


In high school, we read the epic poem “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, but at that point, I didn’t have much to look back on. Thinking about it now, I can see why the old king yearned for his youthful days of adventures and follies. In his twilight, he picks up his sword, goes off into the world, and tries to find his former glory. Or perhaps, he had enough of sitting around his kingdom, and was attempting to create a new legacy. Perhaps in his maturity, he was aching for a new adventure with new meaning.

I think 25 is an age where you look back on your life in wonder. Half way to 30, I find myself sitting and pondering what I did in my past, all the steps I’ve taken to get myself to this point in life. I think about the friendships that have lasted, the ones that faded away, the late night coffee sessions, and the stolen moments on the phone in which we carved our youthful existence.  I often remember the ideals and priorities I once cherished so dearly, the worries and anxieties I held in utmost importance, only several years later to find out that they weren’t that important after all.

It is terribly funny how much your perception of the world changes in four or five years. At 20, I was more concerned with going out with friends and the day to day than I was with making plans for the future. I had unbridled passion, but no where to put it – I had a desire to succeed, but no real thoughts on how to get there or what I was going to do about it.

At 25, I am more concerned with what I am leaving behind than what I leave the house in. I am more concerned with what legacy will be left of me, rather than if other folks think I am ‘cool’.  I suppose having a child will do that to you; priorities change after you realize someone else is looking up to you. Your level of cool is not nearly as important when a set of eyes is watching your every move – your level of success and accomplishment is.

When I was 20, I felt like I was an adult. At 25, it is no longer a question. My problems and solutions are my own, burdened on two shoulders more able to accept the weight. Five years ago, a small issue was a conundrum: how will I ever get through this? I would panic and make phone calls into the night, scribble anxiously into journals, and wait for some wave of wisdom to come. While I still seek out advice from my kindred spirits and I still worry more than any human being should, many of those late night worry sessions have disappeared. Sleep is far too important to worry about the trivial matters in life. (Again, having a child will do that to you.)

These days, I find comfort in family, in watching old movies until I wear them out, and comfortable shoes. A pot of coffee in the morning that I didn’t have to make brightens my day. I have dreams and ambitions, but rather than sitting and thinking about how unattainable they are, I work harder to get there. This life isn’t always easy, as I used to lament, but now I’ve realized hard work is what it takes to get through.

I saw a post this morning, in which someone wished they were more like they were when they were in college. In some aspects, I can agree. I was much more passionate, full of zeal, I suppose. I think that zeal still lives in my heart, just hidden behind deadlines and bill notices. In the past 5 years, I lost myself, only to find a more determined and tougher version waiting in the wings. Perhaps I’m still the same dreamer, just with a path before my feet and a thicker set of armor.

I might sit and reminisce about those times, but I wouldn’t trade anything for who I am today. I am a work in progress, a forward moving force hoping to make an impact on the world and gain some knowledge on the way.

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” means much more to me now, dear friends. Go forth into the world, and create something wonderful. Over the years, your passions might have changed and found shape, but they are still alive and well. You just have to dig a little deeper to find them. Put on your armor, and face the world with purpose. Join Ulysses in his nautical adventures, and make a new path for your feet – adventure awaits.

“Come, my friends,’tis not too late to seek a newer world…” -’Ulysses’, Alfred Lord Tennyson