Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Look Back On 2008 and Hyperliving

Brighton Beach, December 2008, courtesy of Ben D

No year that has passed in my nascent adult life has seen more complete and total change than this past one. 2008 was a year of changes, challenges, newnesses, failures, firsts, and discovery, growth. For the first time in my life, I think I now know who I am, which is an odd sensation to say the least... and one which, strangely enough, seems to make me feel like I suddenly have more questions than I ever have for myself and where I need to go on the journey of my life.

The Hyperliving project was easily and unquestionably the main proponent behind at least the beginning "oomph" of my forward thrust. I ended 2007 on the verge of utter despair: directionless, alone and abandoned, in a job I that killed me with a boss I loathed, and above all, losing hope. I was a one-man ship whose engine had cut far out at sea and with all hope of rescue gone... and the only way I was to survive was to dig within, get create, and save myself.

It's typical Jeffrey Beaumont (or Ben Scheim) hyperbole to suggest that Hyperliving saved my life, because, frankly, I'm sure I could have floated out there a lot longer, but it's not crazy at all to see how much it helped me get my life on track.

Some life developments since January 1, 2008:

- I feel more confident about who I am and why I am here than ever.
I like me--I am happy to be here. The simplest and yet most complex change of all, and far and away the most important (and the one that makes all of the below count as enhancements rather than excuses). I am still scared, I am still confused, but I also love life and I love myself, and I believe in the promise of both the present and the future.

- I have become obsessed with photography.
The one thing I can say with comfort about the drop-off of Hyperliving is that I replaced the activity with some long-needed updating of my Flickr account, which has become an important outlet for my burgeoning interest in photography and general creativity. 

- I have quit smoking.
After 13 years and a number of half-hearted breaks, I have finally decided to quit smoking. I'm a little concerned about the longevity of this one--it's been three weeks and I really miss smoking already. I've already accepted that at some point in a few months I'll allow myself to guiltlessly have "the occasional cigarette" when it's not involving pack-buying, repetition, or expectation... but being a "smoker"--never again. 

- I bike to stay alive.
Thanks to a life-changing suggestion by Emily, I am now obsessed with biking and can't imagine living without it. Each time I sit on my bike I am reminded that I must work at improving my life and never let up, and that if I do I will be rewarded in the most enriching ways possible. Beyond cycling all the time, I did rides 70 mile and 90 miles, and look forward to doing even more of them this year.

- I had less life-destructive dead patches / drop-offs than I've had in 15 years.
... Meaning, some type of heretofore unknown "regularity". This may sound vague, but believe me, making it through an entire year without watching some portion of my life disintegrate into (self-started) flames is astonishing and wonderful.

- I value the amazing people in my life, magical and special, more now than ever before
2008 reminded me that my friends are the number one reason I still have a life to live. Time and time again, over and over, friends new and old, won and lost stood up for me, to me, and with me in helping me sort through the wreckage of my brain, so that I could find firm ground. The constant, unwavering support and LOVE from my returned-hetero life partner Alex; Ben D and his keen eye and strong encouragement; Amy, for putting up with a non-ending life of bullshit; my renaissance man Jayson, for stepping in as an expert on just about anything regarding taste; Cassie and the others for making every paired experience deeper and more enriching; and every one of the great many new people that came into my life in 2008, broadening and deepening every aspect of my existence. But, most of all, Emily, whose constant enthusiasm and curiosity for the world helped lift me higher when all I wanted to do was sink lower. Without her great and indomitable spirit, it is possible that the once-standard Ben Scheim swells of depression would have surely swallowed me and Hyperliving alive. 

The months since Hyperliving ended in June have been emotionally intense and have seen a great number of changes as I have somewhat unexpectedly made peace with people who I thought I might not speak to again and ended friendships with those I imagined I might never let go of. I am glad for the positives, and I look forward to eventually sorting out the negatives when the time is right. But people, yes, and their energy are what matter.

- Crosswords plug any gap of deadspace I could possibly have
I never imagined I would spend any more than one week on them, but they now all fill the very small handful of "free moments" I get in my generally busy life. I am still mediocre at best, but I can do Mondays and Tuesdays all right, and mainly, they provide a surefire way for me to relax myself when the stress of "too much bullshit" gets me down.

- I cook a bit now.
Not enough as I'd like, but more than enough to count.

- I actually like my job again.
The shocker of 2009 and a secret candidate for "most crucial development." My former colleague Danielle challenged me to put up or shut up; take advantage of the job I have or else get the fuck out. After continuing to dream about being out, I tried standing up and living within and things have actually turned out quite well. A new boss, a new role, a better environment and new possibilities has made for a surprisingly awesome job. Who would have thought? And on top of that, I had tons of vacations and got two more great (paid) globetrotting voyages out of it, to London and India.

- I took seven weeks of vacation and traveled to India and London.
See "I actually like my job again," above.

- I am dreaming again.

This rattle-off of wonderful developments belies the fact that I did undergo a number of struggles: beginning with the top point--as far as this website is concerned--that I only made it through 23 of the 52 weeks of Hyperliving I hoped to have. This "failure" troubled me throughout the second half of the year, but I eventually made my peace with the fact that there was a good reason why I wasn't "Hyperliving" anymore--the first 23 weeks got me so incredibly re-engaged with and re-excited about my life that I was overwhelmed with new ways to spend my time. It would have been awesome to have done the project for all 52 weeks, but feeling happier and more complete as a human being seems awesome enough. 

2008 was a truly great year and one that I can say was easily the best of my life. And the best thing is that I've got a feeling that 2009 might be even better.

Hyperliving 2008, In Pictures/Videos/Links

70 Mile Bike Ride to Montauk

Bike to Work Week

Art Week (Day 7, Photography)

Cooking Week

Rock Band Week

Rock Band Week: The Heart Beats Do "Umm Don't Mean I Love You"

I miss cigarettes already.


So what next? 2009 is going to be great, no matter what, and I have a list of goals for it (among them, writing again). But what else? 

How about Hyperliving 2009? Yep, it's coming back.

Stay tuned...

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