You couldn’t possibly understand the impact your own life has had on those who’ve touched it. The lives which interwove with yours for a time as well as those which only grazed yours for an instant; a blade of grass on the heel of the summer of your life.
I couldn’t count on a thousand hands the people who have affected mine. A seatmate on a bus ride. Author of a favorite book. A barkeep. A best friend. An honest glimpse of another soul. A kindness or a cruelty. A question. A lesson.
Half the time I’m writing, I feel I should be giving someone else credit, so grateful for the moments and people who’ve coached and catalyzed and challenged my world view. And I doubt 90+% of them have the slightest idea they have.
So, in this, our birth month, I thank Arminu “ArminCharles Trish-from-Tower-Records Nalbeaudeaux” Nalbandian for introducing me to Henry David Thoreau. And for so much more than she could ever know.
Classy AF. A best friend when best friends meant everything. She taught me that the epitome of cool is to be silly and brilliant. That conventionality was overrated. That mosquito netting and plaid bell bottoms did in fact look completely insane, making the outfit all the more delightful to rock at our favorite olde time cinema. That I had been Gamed and that it was somehow actually a good thing (another story for another time). How to be a friend.
From sixth grade to post-grad, she’s been an inspiration, a voice of reason, a partner in crime.
Loathing my mundane, post-college, corporate-hellhole j-o-b, I declared myself amidst my quarter life crisis as though simply deciding so absolved me of all responsibility. A quarter-life-crisis I milked for quite a few years.
Wanting a change. Wanting a challenge. Wanting my life to mean something. Special snowflake shit.
Arminé, in her infinite wisdom, mentioned “Thoreau’s Walden‘s always helped me when I needed inspiration.” Never heavy handed, she left it at that.
And now, This.
Eventually I bought Walden from a favorite bookshop. Potentially the spooky-sexy one across from THE BEST froyo in the world (BerryLine).
It changed my life. Or rather encouraged me to change my own. Issued the challenge to do so. It’s taken a while to act on it but his words have burned urgently in my blood since the moment I read them. I want that.
In his opening passage which follows, Thoreau told me loud and clear, “come write for me”:
In most books, the I, or first person is omitted; in this it will be retained;
that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference.
We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person who is speaking.
I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.
Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.
Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last,
a simple and sincere account of his own life,
and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives;
some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land;
for if he has lived sincerely,
it must have been a distant land to me.
What might he tell you?