The Train Station of Your Mind

Autonomy: the quality or state of being self-governing; self directing freedom and especially moral independence.

There aren’t an awful lot of visual representations for the concept of autonomy.  The common theme revolved around images of the human brain in some fashion.  Of those, the one shown above appealed to me the most.
Why am i writing about autonomy instead of following up on kung-fu fighting?  The simple answer is in the title of this topic itself.  In other words, because i want to.  It’s the same reason i rose from bed to sit here in the dark, hoping my muscle memory will carry me through the typing labor to bring this to you.  So far, so good.
This year feels rather pivotal for me.  My 35th year alive is like a train station.  Prior to this moment, my life chugged along on a lot of different tracks, all bluster and steam-powered engines coming from countless places.  All the engines have arrived at the station now, and the conductors have gotten off and are milling about, waiting for their assignments of their next destination.
If i’m honest, i don’t really know what to tell them.
Since i’ve gone back to school to earn my bachelor’s degree in journalism this year, i’ve put great effort into trying to figure out where to go next.  As i lay there fighting off anxious thoughts about this quandary, i felt the best thing to do was shake off those feelings of responsibility (“gotta get to sleep because i work tomorrow”) so here i am.
One thing i am certain of is that whatever i do from here, it’s got to involve writing.  In fact, one of the most appealing things about my dream job is something i’m doing at this very moment: getting up in the middle of the night because i had an idea that i wanted to write something.  To hell with the conformity i have to swallow to get by!  i’m enjoying my autonomy.
Some of the cargo these trains have been hauling i’ve already shared with you.  There’s the Screenwriter Car and the Gamer Car for instance.  There’s a Novelist Car, a Reporter Car, a Columnist Car, a Stand-Up Comedy Car, a Chef Car, and a Comic Book Writer Car.  And others.  All very much things that, at least to me, represent a strong sense of individuality.
On a side note, do you know that Individuality and Loyalty are diametrically opposed in the world of corporate employment?  It’s true.  Have you ever applied for a job and had to take one of those personality tests with dozens and dozens of Likert-scale type questions?  Those are the ones with questions like “I like to work with others” and a selection of response choices from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.”  One of the things they test for is a candidate’s sense of individuality versus loyalty to the company.  i only recently learned that, and for years and years wondered why i would never get a response from these sorts of jobs.
How could they not want to hire me?  i’m smart, personable, efficient, and a quick learner.  Am i to believe i’m not qualified to work at Target, or Lowe’s, or…whatever?
Yes.
That’s exactly what i should believe because that’s the case!  Who wants to invest in a guy with high scores in thinking for himself?
So here i am, idling in the train station.  Wondering what to do next.  Getting a regular job-type job is never going to cut it for me.  Even if i wanted to change the course of my life and aim for something like that, i don’t think it would be possible.  i’m too far gone now.  But i am totally okay with that.  In fact, i’m happy about that.
One of the things i’ve enjoyed the most about being back in school is, and this will sound silly, learning new things.  It’s pretty funny to me to sit in a room surrounded by people nearly half my age who for the most part appear completely uninterested in what’s happening in their presence.  There’s a person sharing knowledge with you, exposing you to ideas and concepts and doing a pretty good job of making it relative and relevant, but it seems to me to go largely ignored.
Maybe it’s because, especially when you come straight from high school and you’re still pretty young, a professor is just that – a title.  It’s not a ‘real’ person up there.  It’s just a figurehead representing something you’d been forced to do for most of your life to that point: sit in class.
Some of the cooler things i’ve been introduced to this year so far: public broadcasting (feel foolish that i wasn’t more into this before), narrative reporting, content analysis, and hyperlocal news, to name a few.  A great deal of my return-to-college experience has helped in refining my goals.  It’s helping with the architecture at the train station.
i’ve noticed a few of the cars resting in the shelter of the carriage house have started to look a bit worn down too.  They used to be powerful locomotives years ago, but they’ve been left unattended and meandered down the track for too long and they’re showing their age.  Their conductors have grown tired and succumbed to ennui.  Probably time for them to retire.
Others have tinkered and retooled their pieces and parts so that they’re still running relatively smooth.  They might need some polish, sure, but they’re still serviceable.
i think it’s time for this train station to follow the path that a lot of industries have in the past decade or so and start consolidating, or converging.  If there’s two or three strong lines still running, they ought to pool their resources and come up with something new that they can all use together.
To that end, i think it’s time to build a new station, one that is more prepared for the future.  There’s a lot of innovations to take advantage of.  It’s no mystery that the opportunity for user-generated content is growing –  more rapidly all the time.  The ability for autonomous units to operate within the larger framework has become pretty viable and if you ask me, remarkably well received.
i’m thinking there’s a more exciting media landscape out there than we’ve ever seen before.  i suppose that’s always the case though – the next big thing is always just around the bend.  When the new train pulls out of the station, i’ve got a good feeling it’ll turn that corner pretty quick.
That’s about all i’ve got right now.  As i lay there in the quiet dark, in my imagination a thought-provoking cavalcade of ideas felt like it was forming, but now it’s becoming ephemera.  i’ve got a feeling that if i linger here too much longer, you’ll end up reading a long series of lines consisting of either a single letter or a whole lotta nonsense.  That might not be so bad in the end.  But on the other hand, it’s the Internet here and it lasts forever.
Let me leave you by saying thanks for reading what is essentially an egoist essay.  Honestly, i just wanted to get up and write something.  Strong feelings of discord regarding the challenge of balancing that need to fit into our society through responsibility and work, and my desire to be the autonomous creature i am at my core compelled me to say “i’m NOT going to be a slave to my alarm clock!”
Good night.
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