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  • Writer's pictureMark Stefan Reinoso


Updated: Sep 13, 2019

I’m back from Europe, almost 2 weeks now. Things are back to normal, except they really aren’t. The trip was incredible, but not exactly in the ways that a European trip usually is. There weren’t many incredible meals, there was basic fare in Normandy. I wasn’t in awe of the architecture, nothing I hadn’t seen before. I took very few pictures of people and places. But this trip changed me in a way that I can’t exactly describe. Instead of a photo roll full of amazing photos, instead of a head full of memories, instead of a stomach full of incredible food, there is a void in me. Maybe I could call it a vacuum, but I can’t say it’s a negative feeling. Its more of a realization that I need to do something differently with my life. It’s certainly not a logical thought, but it’s not a trifling emotion. Its visceral.

I’m not completely unhappy with my life…by all accounts I have a good one. I have a great family with 3 amazing kids. I’m not rich, but I make enough money for my family to live a comfortable lifestyle. I own 2 businesses in Phoenix, so I have a lot of flexibility with regard to my schedule. I am very busy, and very stressed, but at least I can operate on my own time. I work from home a majority of the time, and while that is enviable to most, there is such a thing as cabin fever. Working from home also lends itself to overeating and dressing badly.

I am 46 years old, and I am fully aware of my mortality. Our lives are over in the blink of an eye.…. If you double my son’s age, he’s 20. If you double my youngest daughters age, she’s 14. If you double my age, I’m DEAD. Life is so funny and cruel that way: One minute you are excited about getting hair in your armpits, the next minute you have hair in places you never thought possible. When we were dating my wife looked at me like a tiger looks at a piece of raw meat, now she looks at my naked body like she looks at a burnt steak: Slightly repulsed, but also wonders what the hell went wrong. She'll eat it, but she won't love it. I have a spiritual hope for the future, but the only I know for a certainty, the only thing I can actually prove, is that I am going to die. I am going to die in the next 35 years, 45 if I have an extraordinary gift. Out of those 40 or so years, the last 10 of them, someone will be helping me around, changing my diapers, explaining and re-explaining which relation they are to me. I have 25 years of great health left, and I plan to make the most of it. I can't imagine doing nothing the second half of my life. I can't imagine withdrawing from society like my father did. He spent the last 25 years of his life with his family, but kept few friends, neglected so many others and spent the majority of this time in his house, dreaming and planning things in excruciating detail that he never got around to doing. Cleaning out his desk revealed a man who had so many hopes, dreams, plans for business ideas, all written down in his notebooks......stacks and stacks of notebooks. I dunno, maybe that planning was everything to him, maybe he extracted the most enjoyment that he could out of that narrow slice of life, and figured it was pointless to go further. As much as I am like my father, I don't have notebooks. I want a big slice of life. I need to do something, I need to go somewhere, and I’m not talking about going to Asia or Canada or Europe for 2 weeks. I don’t want to stay as a tourist, do the things the tourists do. I don't want to cross things off my checklist like I am going grocery shopping. I don't want to take one of those ridiculous pictures that people do at the leaning Tower of Pisa, pretending that they are holding it up, and are somehow original in the process. I don’t want to eat at the tourist restaurants like everyone else. I’m sick of taking pictures of my food in 6 different ways, adding filters and brightening it up, then posting it on InstaGram so people can feign jealousy. I don't want to count the number of likes I get, get that dopamine rush and feel accomplished. UGH!! it’s such a shallow, myopic existence, living more online than actually living….If the matrix is real, then this is how it starts. People's profiles and posts on social media are so carefully curated, so fake that I have a hard time remembering the real person. I had no idea avatars actually existed. I don’t want to do what I always have done. I don’t exactly know what I want, but I know what I don’t want. Lethargy. Atrophy. I don't want to be dead while I am still alive.

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