Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On Old Beginnings Made New

Dear Reader,

It's funny how our goals escape us. In a recent conversation with a friend about the nature of voluntarism, we concluded that free will only exists when defined as the feeling we have that we make deliberate choices, rather than an actual ability to deliberate. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that life consists of all the random shit that ever happens to someone, and free will is the misguided sensation that we have a say in some of it. Sometimes, the most freeing experience is realizing that things turned out better because you had no real control in the first place.

Case-in-point: twelve years ago, I went to culinary school. I had dropped out of high school.  I knew I
needed to do something with my life, and with the small inheritance my grandmother had left when she died. The former was open-ended, but the latter was about enough to cover about two years of college tuition and living expenses. Without the slightest clue what I might want to do with myself for the next seventy years or thereabouts, I hijacked the dreams of my best friend, who had always wanted to own a restaurant someday. The plan was elegant; I would go to culinary school a year ahead of him, he would move in with me to begin his education, and then we would open a restaurant together and be the greatest chefs in the history of ever.
Myself, Nathan (the best friend), and Thomas (his brother)
being at once immodest and naive

Alright, the plan might not have been that immodest, but it was undoubtedly that naive. Halfway through my second year, I had dropped out of school, run out of money, and secured my first job as a dishwasher. The same friend had moved in with me, sort of unofficially --which is to say that he was staying at my place a lot, but as a guest rather than a roommate-- but the culinary school dream was binned, and we both set ourselves to work in the field. Overall, it was a better choice, or perhaps a better random occurrence that felt like a choice. Protip: culinary school is an enormous waste of money.

Now, more than a decade later, I'm returning to the same city (albeit to a different school) to finish what I started (albeit in a different major). I'll readily admit to some apprehension, but mostly the move greets me comfortably, secure in the knowledge that this time, the random stuff seems to have turned in my favor, and brought my original goal back to me in a much nicer package. It's clear to me that these are choices I haven't made, but that the universe has made on my behalf, and I'm grateful for its kindness.

~J