Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sarah Wolstein

Laura says I need to introduce myself to the general public. Well let me start by saying I absolutely loathe the photo above. I'd much rather meet you laughing. Because that's me - I'm always laughing. But, okay. Let me introduce myself in a few hundred words, yes?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of New York; Westchester, to be exact. I've got four parents, three brothers, two homes, and, of course, myself (in a pear tree). No, no, let me take this seriously. It's just that I feel kind of like an ass, rambling on about myself. How about this: rather than sing my own praise, I'm going to instead tell you of my struggles. Of the atheist in the foxhole.

I've led a bit of a nomadic life. I grew up with my father and brothers after my parents divorced, and have been bouncing around since the age of 13 or so. First to rehabilitation boarding school, then home, then friends' houses, then college, then another college, and another, and another. Right now I'm in Manhattan, just working and waiting to leave on this trip. You might say I'm a bit stir-crazy. I get anxious if I'm in one place for too long. Anyway, as a result of this lifestyle, I've developed the ability to, as my mother would say, 'charm the birds out of the trees.' Yes, once I hit that switch, there's not much you can do. You'll like me. Not to worry, though - the switch is off at the moment; for now, I'm giving you me sans affectation. (Oooh, she knows big words, too.) Where was I? Ah, charm. So I've little problem meeting new people or making new friends.

This brings up an important point: I am a living, breathing paradox. While my transient lifestyle has made me an expert at adapting to almost any environment, my nature is attention-drawing. For example: I am just as comfortable in the intellectually-challenging arena of an educational institution as I am walking the streets of ninety-eight-percent-Dominican Washington Heights. I am equally content discussing Hobbes versus Locke as Don Omar versus Tito El Bambino. I am as opinionated about the Gestalt approach as I am about Manny Pacquiao's technique. Call me a hybrid, call me contradictory, call me illogical. Many do.

Something I struggle with these days is a complete disenchantment with the trajectory my life was on. I was attending Columbia University. Ivy League material only a few months shy of a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. Surely, afterward, I'd have gone on to pursue a graduate degree, and settled into a lucrative nine-to-five. Please do not misunderstand: psychology was a wonderful pursuit. Interesting, illuminating, practical. It's the afterwards that I recoil from. The prospect of waking up and going to a job, which, psychology has taught me, I will inevitably hate, coming home, going to sleep, and doing the same thing the next day. I'm not against routine. I'm against anything inane. You see, I couldn't answer the question, why? Why do it? So I can make money? To buy a house? To support my children? To raise them up? To retire? To have worked my entire life only to wish I'd done things differently? That. That seems so far from a meaningful existence. I think, and I could be wrong here, but I think that we have diverged so far from our basic humanity that we don't even know how to feed our own souls anymore. So I've done what any rational human being would do: I've extricated myself from the system. I've halted the kinesis. Instead I will leave the country in search of a healthier life. So, why are you here? Living vicariously? Well, whatever your thing is, get up and do it. No reason I can and you can't.

Anyway, like I said, I'm off to South America for six months with my best friend Laura. Everyone responds the same way: "oh my gosh, that's amazing! Why?" Why, indeed. Because I believe there is life on Earth, and I'm going to try to find it. Because I need answers to fundamental questions regarding myself and my humanity. Since the life I was born into doesn't suit me, what life will? If people are so very isolated from one another, what will draw us closer together? Is there a place where idealistic people like myself can realize the lives they dream of? Or am I just suffering a post-adolescent existential crisis?

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