Ok, I’m up now. Almost 1:30 p.m., and I’m up and about. It is not the first, or second or even third time I have been up today, but this time I’m staying up. Sleep has been a dubious luxury of late… my time has been stretched to the limit, but for now I am caught up. There is more coming - there’s always more coming, but for now I can take a little breather. Maybe I can get my equilibrium back. Perhaps tonight I can get to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep all the way through the night.
It’s a rainy, gloomy and wet December day in Sacramento. I have only two essays, a take home final, a photography portfolio and a column (this column) left to complete before I graduate with honors from California State University, Sacramento with a bachelor of arts degree in government-journalism. December 22 will be the pinnacle of a quest that has taken me to places both far and wide - figuratively and literally. It has been a quest that has spanned no less than 25 years. Today I turned 45.
Milestones such as these are cause for reflection and these sleepless nights are due in part, I am sure, to some of that. However, with the rapidly approaching conclusion of my undergraduate career, it is also a time to look forward. It is a time for optimism, but with uncertainty comes a certain degree of trepidation. I have been comfortable these past few years. Indeed, I know how to be a student. (Some may say it’s about time, but that’s a story for another time.) This uncertainty isn’t limited to my own future and where my path will lead me next - indeed, there are a multitude of good ideas and only a handful of bad - but in many respects it is spawned by a general restlessness that can be felt throughout the world.
Closer to home, there is an upcoming presidential election. Our nation is in dire need of competent leadership. This time there are more candidates than I can ever recall running and I cannot say that any of them is giving me much hope. We are in the midst of a housing crisis the magnitude of which, the experts say, is unprecedented - and the worst is yet to come. The nation is polarized based of false ideology where the most significant difference between Republicans and Democrats is how they spell their party’s name. And then there’s that pesky little undeclared war that has claimed nearly 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and maimed countless others.
More than entering the work force to begin yet another career, I am asking myself what I can do beyond making a living. In 45 years, I have seen some bad times and I have seen some good. The nation and the world are at the same time both better off and worse. We have taken a thousand steps forward in places and in others our feet have remained firmly anchored in cement. The United States has grown more powerful and prosperous than any other nation in recorded history - and in record time. I have seen nations built and borders dissolve, heroism and tyranny, compassion and cruelty. The question still remains: What can I do?
Although the answer isn’t anywhere near crystal clear, one piece of it absolutely is - write about it. If not for those of us running the show today, perhaps for our children who will be steering us tomorrow. For our grandchildren who will be paying for our foibles and for anyone who is a seeker, thirsty for perspective, hungry for knowledge - the words, others and mine, will be there. We did not achieve what we have due to our own brilliance. It came from the generations upon generations of our predecessors. Where we gleaned their knowledge and wisdom, we have thrived and where we have failed to study their mistakes, we have failed miserable.
What can I do? Maybe it means nothing today, but perhaps my children, my grandchildren and countless generations of successive great grandchildren will benefit from my experience written here and elsewhere. By myself and by others. By the scribes, the philosophers, the thinkers and the journalists.
Maybe they will read what I wrote.
On this wet, rainy, gloomy December day in Sacramento.
On my 45th birthday, 6 December 2007.