A lonely reflection in the life of Lyon

Lyon Keating:

Sitting here in Antigua Guatemala not liking one bit of where I am, I wonder how in my adult life I got to this point.  What led me to a place I never wanted to be?  How have I consistently dove into situations full well knowing I wanted to do them and then had to find a way to crawl back out trying to save face and understand where I wanted to go from here?  I guess everything has started from my one original deep passion of baseball and then cycled over and over again with various things I’ve been passionate about or thought I was passionate about.

The year is 2009.  How did it get to be almost ten years from when I graduated high school?  I’m sure this won’t be the first time I’ll say this.  Life was always so easy for me growing up that it’s hard to think that even now after it’s been about ten years since I’ve reached adulthood that my life is anything but simple.  For the first eighteen years of my life, or I guess I should say about 15 since I don’t really remember the first three, I was cared for my loving parents, played with my friends on a daily basis doing exactly what I wanted to do which included sports and going to school because I had to.  Sports and running around like a loyal dog playing fetch gave me extreme comfort as it tired me out and entertained my mind constantly with things I liked to do.  I learned much from doing this about how to work with others to get things accomplished and to win at whatever I was doing and gained an incredible talent for physical activities.  This is where I gained my abilities to learn through doing rather than being told as the lather didn’t interest me.  How could someone tell you what and how to learn instead of doing it yourself?  At times this may seem to lead to many negative outcomes but in reality I feel it is still beneficial because it involves the element of “doing” which gives you a first hand account of how things actually are that could not be anything but true for yourself.  Sometimes I feel that my childhood was a little too pampered but other times I don’t find any fault in how I grew up.  How can life and/or a family be blamed for trying to care and make comfortable the best they can for their kids.  I didn’t have any choice in the matter either as those decisions were for my parents regarding parenting and where we lived so what am I really going to do and/or claim about it.  My parents are exceptional people and I have no qualms about anything in my young life.

Baseball was what I took from my childhood into my adulthood as it supplied a cheap means to go to college, was fun, and I was really good at it.  Sounds too good to be true, and it was exactly that.  I had completely set my mind that I would be a baseball from a very young age on and after I had won the most prized possession of a scholarship, but slightly before I ventured to that college, I started to have doubts or more or less started to become bored with what I had always loved doing so much.  This feeling only intensified as I went off to college and within three months I came home, throwing away my scholarship and everything I had ever worked for and thought was a part of me in the process.  Those months were some of the most extreme, long, dreadful months of my life as I hated almost every minute of every day.  I remember how depressed I always felt the moment I woke up as I would say, “well here we go again.”  There is nothing worse than waking up day to day hating that there is no way out of a situation and you have to do something.  Part of why it was so dreadful was because I knew I didn’t want to be apart of this world anymore and something else was laying in wait for me.  I couldn’t relate to it, didn’t want to be a part of it, and just knew it wasn’t something that was motivating me as I couldn’t see the purpose of going forth.  It was the first time that purposeless living had appeared to me in such a grand form and I wanted nothing to do with it, thus creating the need in my life to have passion about my life in most aspects.  I had never faced this problem in childhood as basically everything was fun and worthwhile and if I could help it I wanted nothing to do with this feeling for my adult life.

Years passed.  I tried baseball a few more times but the spark never returned; when it left it really left.  I moved to London to go to school for a semester and why not.  It was of the most fun times in my life where I met a lot of new people, experienced a different culture, all while getting college credit.  Hey living anywhere other than Sonoma County!  I’ll take it.  London gave me a new perception in regards to traveling although as a young person I was extremely pampered, told where to go to school, basically told who to make friends with, didn’t necessarily partake in the foreign culture, and overall not really participating in the elements that make traveling so mysterious, enlightening, worthwhile for most people as I was set up to go somewhere everyday and have friends.  However, I liked it enormously and thought that perhaps I would want to do more of it in the future as it left a good taste in my mouth.

More time passed and it was fairly easy to know what direction my life was going in.  I knew I had to get out of Sonoma County and do a city like London, which was San Francisco, also conveniently where all my great friends I had always had lived.  I spent a very busy six months living in Rohnert Park finishing up school but being so busy that I didn’t have a moment to think about where I was.  In the summer of 2004 I moved to the city and for basically the next five years had easy goals pertaining to finishing school, getting my teaching credential, and really just having a good time. In this time I merged into an adult and filled my life much with the same elements that made my childhood so happy and enlightening.  I had friends around.  Did exactly what I wanted to do and had a sense of purpose for being there.  Although I didn’t like going to school, I knew where it would lead me and that it was something that would lead to greater happiness for me in the future.  I didn’t know what I really wanted to do with my life but I knew having the option to teach would fill me with a job that was meaningful and with plenty of time off to live and do whatever I wanted, whether that was nothing or conquering the world.  My life was heading to a good point and the last five years have seemed like a blur as is easy in San Francisco because it is such a blissful place with so many things to do that time literally seems to stop.

Two years ago I finished school and FINALLY was free from the classroom that I have generally not liked for as long as I can remember.  Ha!  As I become a teacher, what irony.  Hey, at least I’m now the one in the front of the classroom and not doing stupid assignments;)  What was my life now going to be like?  Finally freedom and I’m not in debt thanks to my parents; the world was really my oyster.  As much as I liked the profession I chose that included teaching, coaching, being around enthusiastic and/or asshole kids it didn’t seem like the right move to suddenly jump into teaching.  The last couple bits of college were hectic and my last teaching credential year at SF state was hellish and I didn’t want to become burned out early on in my career because I jumped into it too quickly after having an enormous amount of stress laid on me pertaining to it.  However, I almost did get a job instantly after school but was given a bunch of money by my parents that allowed me to take a chill pill for a bit and possibly think about other things to do.  I mean I would be a teacher my whole life so why start instantly?

During the next two years I traveled on various summer trips with my friends that were great.  We saw the U.S., spent time being drunk idiots in most cities in our nation, saw just about every baseball stadium, and basically had a jolly good time.  It was a little too drunk for my tastes, however, and in the future I don’t see doing another trip like those ones again.  There were awesome for what they were but future ones are going to have to be different or at least a bit more balanced.  I lived in a beach house in SF with people that I became great friends with and forever will have their great friendship in my life.  I met a great girl through one of my friends that I started dating who is awesome, smart, intelligent, pretty, relaxed, likes most things I like, and basically fits in well with my life, my family, and my friends.  I love her!  However, I wasn’t interpreting all these things as things that came to my life because of my new found freedom.  Those things came in a different package and for some reason didn’t fall in line with being able to happen to me at home in SF and/or with a girlfriend or most of my friends.  I decided that I needed to venture forth, away from home, and anyone I had ever cared about in order to really experience this freedom.  Thus I decided to travel in other countries, learn Spanish, and do whatever I thought about doing.

As I was about to leave to venture down South into Latino country I got a great offer to go over and teach on an all expenses paid trip in China.  Holy Cow!  This was exactly what I was looking for.  My friends Conrad and Christina would come too.  I had no problem putting my Latino trip on hold and venturing to the far east to experience total freedom in a society that didn’t believe in freedom.  It was a mediocre experience for me traveling wise.  China was fucking hot, and although it was great to be there I mostly missed my girlfriend, my family, my friends back home, everything I ever knew etc.  I felt like I didn’t have a purpose being over in China and if I would have died nobody would have even cared or noticed.  Not the first time I felt this feeling as I had similar thoughts and experiences when I took an extra four weeks to travel in Europe after I lived in London for four months. It was during these times where I truly felt what it was like to travel.  The nomadic experience, not knowing anyone, experiencing a culture so fast and broad that it was hard to imagine it existed on the same planet as the one you came from.  This feeling only intensified when I left my friends Conrad and Christina as I left for two months traveling on my own after teaching school in China.  The experiences as a whole was lonely, and if given the choice to do it again in the same fashion I wouldn’t.  I might as well have been in Rohnert Park or some other city I didn’t have any interest in as when you can’t share your happiness with someone else it seems meaningless, without a purpose.  What am I in this world if I don’t affect anyone else?  Unfortunately, in a traveling alone sense, I prescribe greatly to this feeling.  I didn’t really want to be where I was at and it was tough waking up every morning to go about my day.  Again, I had found myself in a situation similar to baseball.  How did I end up here?  However, the one thing I did get out of it, other than seeing and being exposed to other ways of doing things and living which is priceless and educational in an enormous sense (everyone should have to do this at some point, maybe even included in college before you graduate) was an new set of writing skills that has led me to love writing and become a writer without even me knowing it.  Who would have thought the jocko Lyon Keating would have grown up to become a writer?  Really not me, and for this I am fortunate for this traveling experience, however, it came at an enormous price of being lonely and feeling at a loss to live freely because I was so isolate in a culture where I was the unique foreigner and didn’t fit in.  Regardless, writing will stay with me forever and it will lead to a life filled with philosophical thoughts, books, and an understanding more of what life is all about.  Thank you China for that one!

I came home from China with a renewed since of life, a deeper understanding of cultures, and more of an appreciation for my friends, family, and girlfriend that I love.  Even though it was a hard experience that mostly sucked I had experienced what it was like to have a free life and able to do whatever I wanted whether it was in the jungles of Nepal or my own little hometown.  Once again, though I felt that it might have been a tad overrated and since I wasn’t sharing it with anyone what was the point in it all?  In my mind it is being able to craft meaningful relationships not mattering where you are rather than seeing amazing things alone that creates meaning and purpose in my life.  As I age, I’m learning that more and more.  There was still one problem with all of this, though.  My original trip to Latino land had been put on hold and was that the one where I would find true meaning that would surpass anything I experienced in Asia?  I couldn’t quit on this feeling as it was something I originally intended to do and if I didn’t do it then I would forever think about the “what could have happened if I had” done it thing.  Despite the extreme wishes of my girlfriend, some friends, and my family I lived for one year in basically a closet to save up enough money to find out about this “what if.”  It was a trying year for me where I wasn’t comfortable for most of it, physically and mentally, but the long term repercussions of my curious mind if I didn’t do this would be more grand than the short term comforts I would feel if I just ignored this feeling and went along with my life.  However, who is to say this wasn’t me just going alone with my life naturally anyway?  I talk like I was doing something crazy and totally against my being but obviously I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do for me regardless of how it turned out.

The summer of 2009 came and I had saved up a lot of money to be able to find out about this nagging “what if.”  Hopefully, I would find out about my life more one way or another, and by golly I did.  What do you suppose happened?  Yep, I came here and instantly felt exactly like I did the two other times I tried to travel solo and experience total freedom.  I’m utterly lonely and don’t feel like I belong here.  I’m learning Spanish but realize that I don’t and have never liked school so why did I chose to enroll in school again to learn something that doesn’t motivate me and is very hard for me?  Two other times in my life I’ve quit Spanish?  Getting up day to day here is very similar to it was when I was playing baseball in college.  I don’t see how this is going to benefit my life, and for someone who likes to have people around, and lives and functions according to the meaningful relationships he’s crafted, it seems funny that I have tried yet again to live a solo existence in a place I know nothing about and don’t feel apart of.  This is not to say that I wouldn’t eventually fit in or learn Spanish and it all would become easier, but why am I yearning to do things I have hated and not enjoyed in the past and ignoring, or at least setting them aside, the things that I genuinely like and want to be a part of?  I feel stupid for not being able to recognize these things and that it took years for me to learn what I should have already know all along.  Damn my cursed habits of learning through trial and error, and through doing, and through naturally being a pusher and challenging myself as much as possible.  These aren’t bad traits to have but it makes me feel like a smuck to think that I’m sitting here hating what I’m doing when if I would have studied my past experiences the answer would have been starring me right in the face.  Oh well, I guess we all learn in mysterious ways and boy have I learned.

So, now that we’re all caught up to July 26, 2009 in the life of Lyon where do I stand and what does this all mean?  It means, that these past tendencies where I felt like I could only experience true freedom in doing outrageous things abroad and with nobody I love is absolutely false.  I had a romanticized idea that was more fit for a movie that it was for somebody’s life.  Everything I’ve based my life on in the last few years has been false but great in the process of life learning (oh priceless life learning).  I will no longer continue to live my life in regards to things that I should do as opposed to things that make me fulfilled and happy.  We all can’t be Indiana Jones or Darth Vadar or Odysseys or whoever and think that we’ll just be entertained as we were when we were children for the “in the moment happiness”.  Or maybe I’m figuring out I don’t want to be those guys or that they are in fact just stories.  Hmmm…who would have thought?  We all find happiness in our own way and I’m no longer afraid to find it in things I might have not thought it could have been for me.  Learning how to go with the flow in life is a hard virtue to learn, and I still contend that I’ve done that as I’ve gone with the flow with what I’ve felt, but now I know more of where to look for it (I’m learning Obi won, I’m learning). I’m but 26 and that is not old, and when are we done learning about anything in life anyway?  I heard it happens around 87 or something like that.  Give me a break you freaking deutschcock:)

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