The Passing Present

With the death of Whitney last weekend, I felt a sadness, a sense of loss that life was slipping through my fingers as time marches unforgivingly forward. It wasn't so much a tragedy for me; it didn't make me grab my music player and create an all-Whitney playlist. It was the thought that a voice from my childhood had passed on. Impressionistic as I was when I was a kid, I learned her songs through cousins who belted, wailed and screamed "I Have Nothing" before segueing into "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me.)" I didn't know who she was, not even her name (I was too young to bother with names of singers) until she belted out "Indayyyyyyy," stretching the "I" into an existential command, almost willing it to become a living entity. I was near the end of my single-digit life then and much of my life was still pegged in some dreamy future. You are the next generation. That's what the schools had ingrained in my head.




Last week, I was slobbering to BIG friends about one of the smoldering actors in the Vampire Diaries threesome being on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. They asked me if I watch it and I said I've given up after the first season. I'd rather have my True Blood. And then they said, stomping their huge feet and making the Earth tremble and quake: Me, three. But my cousins, who are 21 love it. Chomp, chomp, they were eating pizza with men on top.

And then we moved on to other TV shows we watch like Revenge and Downton Abbey and there it was, the realization that we're no longer the next generation. We're part of the present one, where our version of Gossip Girl is the upstairs/downstairs lives of corseted characters and Dame Maggie Smith in an Old English manor.

Dreams no longer have their distance. Rather, they've become deadlines, at least to some of us. At our age, some expectations must have been met or else they've become disappointments. Our Facebook news feed is no longer filled with cutesy, romantic longings, but cutesy babies, staged engagements and sunset proposals and endless wedding pictures and unbroken vows.

The thought that the present is such a passing moment has made me more discerning in my actions and on what I do with my time and, in extension, the rest of my life. Sometimes, while driving (which I consider the best time to think) I try to block out all the noises in my head and figure out what I want to do if no external factors have to be considered.

Decisions are not easy to come by, because most of the time my decisions are contrary to the norm. I have to summon every will to stand by them when criticisms pour in. You're studying what? It does get some eyebrows arched to infinity and beyond. But that's one of the minor things. A quibble compared to some other life choices like being gay and being in a relationship.

The point of blocking all those noises was for me to know how to live in the present without wasting it. I want to do the things I want, become the person I want to be, regardless of whether the world wanted it for me or wished I had become. I'd rather apologize to the world with a raised middle finger than apologize to myself for failing to live the way I want to be.

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