Monday, 02 July 2012
Just trust me on this. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself. I can hereby promise that if you do anything EXCEPT that, you’ve failed. I know it sounds like a strange and stupid idea, but to be quite honest, it was the absolute perfect decision for me when I finished college, so I recommend it to everyone who is about to find themselves wandering in that same stage of life.
When you look at the environment of a recent college grad, it’s terrifying. We don’t exactly live in the best of economic climates, and even if we did, things would still be confusing for someone who has just spend the first 20-odd years of their life in a classroom. We live in a society where, truthfully, it’s not strange to be in your mid-20’s (or older) and still be trying to find yourself. This isn’t some society where if you were born into a farming family, then you know you’re going to be a farmer. Things are more complicated than that, so therefore, our lives reflect that complication.
Fresh out of college, there is a gigantic future in front of you, and it can be overwhelming. You probably have a lot of anxiety, and you really need two things: space, and a straightforward task.
Thus, Macon exists.
For a few weeks after graduation, I drove around the Southeast, eventually making my way to my friend Alex’s house in Macon. Alex and another friend, Jonathan, had shaped up my belief in Macon. in my head, Macon never fully moved past 1975. It was some magical, mythological place where time just stopped and everyone played guitar like Duane Allman. Honestly, I’m still not convinced the Macon in my head is much different than the Macon in real life.
Within about five minutes of arriving, Alex said, “Okay, so just so you know, I got hired to paint a house this week, and you’re welcome to join.” What choice did I have? I put on the grungiest clothes I brought, and joined him. It wasn’t exactly the vacation I had in mind, but you know, it could be nice, I guess.
It was honestly perfect. Alex and I had all day to sit around, working hard, and talking about life. It was simultaneously the two things I needed: space from my life, and a straightforward, understandable task that I could accomplish. All week long, we laughed, we discussed the future, and we worked hard. It was a perfect blend of friendly conversation, serious discussion, and hard work that makes you feel good and exhausted at the end of the day.
I was wandering, but I wasn’t a stranger. It was a place where life was simple. Friends were around to talk, and hard work was straightforward and rewarding. It was far and away from the complications that society seemed to create. Simple, and somehow just right.
I went back home at the end of that week, and truth be told, I wasn’t really a changed man. I still had the same crappy part-time job without much direction, and still had no major goals ahead of me. But it was the attitude that changed. It was the mindset, or realization, that I would be alright, that came back with me.
We all need that, I believe. We need to be refreshed every now and again. We need to be reminded that life isn’t always as complicated as we make it. That maybe the future isn’t as scary as we think. Or that maybe we’re not wandering around as lost as we think we are. We need that.
Macon will always be a bit of a mystic, mythological place in my head. A much simpler version of the city that it actually is. But that’s fine. Because I need it to be that for me, just like we all need something like that.
So what is your Macon?