Welcome to the 1000th post on Zalandria.
Firstly, let me thank all of my readers — those who’ve been around since the beginning, and those just stopping by. I never imagined that Zalandria would find a large readership; I only hoped to make a few people laugh and a few people think.
Secondly, as to the ShawnCast: as you may remember I did a podcast for about a year, which concerned both politics and entertainment. I had to give it up so that I could finish my Ph.D. I hope to re-start it soon, especially as we are entering an very exciting election season. I can’t promise, but I am going to try.
Thirdly, some commentary.
I turned 37 years old in April of this year. I actually don’t feel that age, but I suppose being a college professor has something to do with that. I am a historian by profession. I knew I wanted to study history at age 12. Someone — I don’t remember who — gave me a book on World War II. I tore through it and understood what I wanted to do with my life.
Although I sacrificed a lot to get where I am, I have no regrets. I literally don’t have any idea what I might have done otherwise. (Well, that’s not entirely true — I did think about being a lawyer at one point.) There are specific choices and incidents that I regret, of course — who doesn’t? — but in general I feel I made the right choice.
Knowing that one will become a historian gives one an interesting take on life. By that I mean that you learn very quickly to experience life as a person, and at the same time observe those experiences as a detached observer.
A silly (yet somehow revealing?) example: in the 1980s, I (like everyone else my age) watched the television program “Silver Spoons,” starring Ricky Schroder. In one episode in 1985 (when I was 14), Schroder’s character learned to break-dancef. The entire scene was ridiculous, and I laughed out loud … and at the very same time I said to myself: “This is THE height of the 1980s.”
And it was.
I’m sure it strikes most of you as very odd that a 14 year old boy would have such thoughts, but it’s true. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I don’t know why. My memory isn’t really all that good, to be honest. I suppose, however, that it was a moment when I realized my inner drive to give context to everything around me.
Over the last ten years or so, I’ve learned a lot more about myself.
On the plus side, I feel that I am a very loyal person; an introspective person; a studious person; a (usually) friendly person; a person interested in other people and their stories; a person who loves deeply; a political person; and a compassionate person.
I write this list without wanting to sound egotistical, but I think that each attribute is fair.
On the negative side, I feel that I am often too intense; too impatient; too quick to judge on occasion; too quick to make life-altering changes; too quick to love; too open about myself when not appropriate; too self-centered; too in love with the spot-light; too cynical; sometimes too angry; sometimes too vengeful.
I write this list knowing that such attributes are common to many people, not just me.
A confession and an apology to my close friends: in the past month, I have been far too expressive, perhaps without merit (although this is yet to be seen).
For me — perhaps like some of you reading this now — I have often been frustrated at trying to “figure out” my life. My mind often races and it can be hard to keep up. In order to make sense of it all, I have on occasion made a spectacle of myself. I honestly didn’t realize this until very recently. It sounds strange, I know. We all assume that those who make a spectacle of themselves KNOW they are doing so, but I really didn’t.
So, I’m sorry to those who know what I’m talking about — you know who you are. In addition, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and patience. They will never be forgotten.
For many years I lamented at what I thought was “bad luck.” In the last two years, however, I came to understand how very lucky I am. I have a family that loves me, and an unbelievably fantastic circle of friends who have never once let me down — even when I have occasionally let them down in one way or another. I have trained myself to think of all of the positive things in my life and not the negative. That took a long time, but I think I’ve gotten there finally.
For the last several years, at the end of each semester, I have told my students about my 12-year struggle with depression (which ended in 2002). Some might see this as an attention-grabbing move, and perhaps it is in some way. My conscious motivation, however, has been to let them all know that depression is survivable.
These conversations are never easy for me. I often tear up a bit, especially when I talk (briefly) about the days when the only thing I accomplished was getting out of bed for 20 minutes. Despite the difficulty, however, I do feel a need to make that real for the one or two of my students who need to hear it.
When I needed to hear it, when I was in college, no one ever said such a thing to me.
Because I fought my way through it, I feel — as an adult — it is important to impart that understanding to those who come after us.
So … is this post yet another cry for attention, or an effort to make myself the center of attention? Perhaps. I cannot discount the idea. And yet as I wrote it, I thought of myself not as “me,” but as an observer of human nature. An observer of the history of an individual. This is my nature, I think — both actor and observer.
Finally, a note about being an historian.
It is in so many ways the greatest of professions in that one is almost never surprised about anything, if one studies history. The world is entirely explainable if you know the history of humankind.
I encourage all of you, my friends and faithful readers, to go and pick up a history book. I think once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop. Every single thing that has happened since 2001 is entirely understandable if you are grounded in history. Take a moment and find that out for yourself. I can promise that you won’t regret it.
If you need some suggestions about reading material, don’t hesitate to comment on this post or to email me using the link provided.
Thank you for reading this post.
Thank you for spending some time reading this blog, for the last few minutes or the last few years.
Edit: For those who are interested, here is a link to the very first post on Zalandria, all the way back in May of 2005!