Winds of change

Occasionally throughout my life there’ll be windy evenings—not violently windy, as with a storm, nor just the occasional puff that comes along. The kind of wind that would provide ample oomph for a stunt kite; a continuous breeze that shakes the trees and plays with your shirt collar. (I tend to wear shirts with collars, FWIW.)

Occasionally, during those occasional windy evenings, I’ll be walking around outside and be in an introspective mood. At those times my mind associates those winds with the possibility of change, the possibility that there might be a fork approaching in the river of my life.

The first time I felt these so-called winds of change was my senior year in high school, before one of the traditional school dances (I forget which one, now). The second time was just prior to a trip I took to Europe through OSU—most notable for the fact that I was the only guy traveling with twenty gals. Both times I sensed that I could come out of those experiences a significantly different person; both times I emerged (relatively) unchanged.

With these winds, I always envisioned myself as a particle in a stream, swept along the course of time. A particle with a paddle, actually—living a life that is both in and out of my hands. (I’m not a fatalist, though I’m not blind to the fact that many of the events in my life are out of my control.) The majority of the time I’ve simply taken the path of least resistance; there haven’t been all that many times where I really needed to take a stand on something*.

Today, wandering around campus before the revolutionary Tuesday-night summer dance practice, I was once again surrounded by such winds. I then visited the ballroom dance practice, where I mostly sat and watched others dance. I really don’t tend to dance all that much (many of those dances are ones where a follow drags me out on the floor), and historically have had more fun watching others dance than actually dancing myself.

I’m different, now. I was watching one couple try out a funky move, and saw the lead get a big ol’ grin on his face when it succeeded. It was then that I realized that that’s the thing that I really enjoy about dancing—the small celebration of two people getting a move right. You don’t get that feeling, that experience, by watching others.

It’s also time that I take more control of my circumstances. The vast majority of my day is spent at work, and the vast majority of that time is spent listening to my iPod. Combine that with my generally quiet, introspective, self-doubting nature (think Piro, though hopefully not quite that advanced)—and it’s easy for me to fall out of practice at being social. With my actuarial exam results due this Friday, and the specter of a job hunt following it (provided I pass, of course), it’s really time to start being more social and acting like I have some self-confidence. (My theory: just as smiling can make you happy, acting self-confident can make you self-confident.)

I really can be quite the extrovert—I was one, for a shining period in my sophomore year of college—and it’s time I drag that part of me out again.

So, yes, this entire post is basically a big ol’ pledge to myself. Thank you for reading, and my apologies if it wasn’t all that entertaining. For entertainment, may I suggest the abridged script of Independence Day?

[*Honestly, I probably demonstrated the most backbone I ever have in my senior year in high school: between helping to edit the yearbook, standing up in class and taking the brunt of Mr. Goslow’s anger (his anger was more to make a point than actual anger—but it sure didn’t feel that way) for a major screw-up (I had been part of something pretty damn stupid), and trying to get student involvement in teacher salary negotiations (a presentation to the student government, which eventually resulted in me taking the stage against members of the school board), I did a heck of a lot that I’m not so sure I’d do today. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still scarred from that encounter with Mr. Goslow; although I was only part of the responsible group, I got hit with enough anger for everyone.]

 

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