Maybe Someday I Will Understand Why

It’s the little details I remember; the last things that people say as they are leaving. The way I feel at specific moments, whether good, bad or somehow inexplicably indifferent. I still remember at the end of the summer when I was 16. I had a crush on a close friend, and I still remember the last thing that she said when she was leaving. I still remember her talking about dreams and rumored desires. Hers to marry a rich, wealthy man, and be the mother of his children, mine to be happy and successful in whatever happened to come my way, and if I ended up being happy, then happiness was what truly mattered. It didn’t matter, she wasn’t paying any attention to my dreams, only hers. In the final moments, before she was to leave for South America as a foreign exchange student, she made me promise to write her, and she said, “tell me one thing that you will remember about me.”

I was younger then, and thought I knew everything. I thought I knew what love was, and I dreamed that one day my life and love would be perfect. I often longed to be an adult, daydreaming about how everything would be better then; I would be free to come and go as I chose, without any restriction or curfew. Now as an adult I am living a life less wonderous and dreaming of days gone by, wishing that when I was younger that someone had told me the realities and responsibilities of being an adult.

I wish that someone had talked to me about goals and dreams, and how dreams come to fruition slowly, and sometimes in the end, they were not worth the time, effort, or resources needed to achieve them. I wish that someone had told me to dream many different dreams and that it is okay to make time to reevaluate my dreams, or to modify them in order to pursue whatever makes me happy. Growing up, I wished for many things I didn’t need, and spent too much time chasing hopes and dreams of things that I realize now were unimportant; so much time was wasted, and in hindsight, I feel as if I need to somehow make up for lost time.

I miss the days when we were amused by difference, before we were judged and pigeonholed by the numerical balance of our bank accounts, the arbitrary counts of online friendships, and the number of people who reacted to and/or commented on our status updates. I miss the days before we were taught to judge others and to hate the little imperfections of our bodies, or feel ashamed of who we are. Today, we judge our self-worth against the commercialized examples of what is considered to be perfection. Maybe someday I will understand why we believe so steadfastly in the dystopian fallacy that to truly be happy we must somehow change ourselves to achieve unattainable standards to which we are told are ideal.

Recently I was waiting in line at a supermarket checkout stand, and couldn’t help but notice that the person in line behind me was a teacher of mine from grade school. She didn’t recognize me, though I knew exactly who she was. I remembered being a child so many years ago, and how she had always made a mockery of me, telling the class that I was the one who would go nowhere in life, and never amount to anything, and to stand to face the corner during class. I stood in line, occasionally glancing in her direction at first, if by some chance she recognized me, but clearly, she didn’t.

I thought maybe perhaps I should confront her and let her know that after the many years went by, she was wrong for the trauma she put me through, and that in the end, I was the one who ended up being successful, while she stayed in the same small town, lived a miserable life, and amounted to nothing. But what would I get? Would I get revenge? To learn by mistake that her abuse, can’t be undone, instead be avenged? Those who tried to keep me down caused me to instead be revered while at the same time, kept them from achieving anything at all themselves.

If someone were to ask me to paint a picture of my life, to offer a snapshot of the way things are, I would likely speak in words similar to lyrics from a Simon And Garfunkel song, though nobody ever asks, and therefore few people realize the paradox I am living in where I cannot leave, though I know I cannot stay. My only option is to constantly travel in pursuit of my own passion for places where I don’t know where I am. I often feel an overwhelming desire to be known and to know others, though sometimes I feel as if I would be willing to travel a thousand miles just to find some place where nobody knows me.

The header image was created using Canva.  The image of me playing hopscotch in New York City was taken by my father.

Chasing Cars | Snapshots And Memories And Days Of My Youth | When I Was 16; A Retrospect. | When Is It Time To Let Go


  • Mary A Bixby

    Amazing, as usual. There are so many parts I can relate to, but I don’t your eloquence for writing to express the feelings you shared. Keep your talents soaring so we can continue to enjoy them. Thank you, Tom. Take care and God Bless.

  • Dick

    I understand and often empathize with your wriings. Thanks for sharing them. See you one day soon hopefully. Big Hug!!

  • Jason Shuker

    Thomas, I am so proud that I know who you really are and have been able to be part of your experiences. Love ya man!

  • saviourv

    For as long as mankind has existed on this Earth, the one thing that we must constantly do is seek wisdom and knowledge.

    At times, it comes from observing other people’s experiences, but there’s still no substitute for experiencing things on your own, despite the pain that some of these experiences may cause.

    It’s like Pandora’s Box, except that there’s a LOT of these boxes on Earth, each representing a choice or a possible life-changing experience. There’s a lot of strife that comes from opening them, but there is one remaining item inside the box is what governs our actions and keeps us soldiering on: Hope.

    To be honest, like you, even I’m searching for the meaning of my life. I’m not sure if I’ll have all the pieces to form a satisfactory picture of it, but each day that passes contributes towards it, bit by bit. Even when there are days when my heart is full of doubt and fear.

    An excellent post, by the way. Greetings from Malaysia. May you eventually find YOUR Truth.

  • Janet James

    Wow its such an inspiring personal story that made me reconnect with my childhood. There is soo much we can learn from our past.

  • Miaka Yuuki

    This is definitely thought provoking I like that. Me it comes down to this we do not need to understand everything but understand enough where we can be happy. Besides as they say at times it is better to leave things the way it is.

  • jolly555

    I believe in destiny and that some pains comes to uplift us. Good to read that you used your pains to your own advantage. great one.

  • Obalade Damilola

    As children, we have wild imaginations..as we mature,reality set in..life teaches us lessons..we understand things better..
    The part you said you saw your teacher that made you feel bad about yourself…well,you did the right thing..their is no point getting even..its just low..some people are just so dumb to know that their negative comments affect other people

  • Grace K

    A good piece of writing on self reflection. How dreams change from when we were just children full of wishes, to when you grow up and face reality and just want meaning and purpose to live for. Great work.

  • May

    It’s so sad to know that the girl is only paying attention to her dreams, while ignoring yours. Had fun reading this post 🙂

  • Rae

    Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring piece. I totally agree with you on this. It just saddens me that some people don’t understand this.

  • meldred24

    Good writing. Thank you for sharing this inspiring article. Some people are just materialistic and don’t know the true value of dreams and life.

  • esgyll

    Nobody really knows why we sometimes do the things that we do. Maybe for some unconscious reason, where we probably tried to protect ourselves, tried to cover up for what we lacked. It is human to feel that way.

    Maybe there is some kind of reason why people sometimes mock us for what they feel could be some kind of threat to what they were. Maybe there is no other reason other than just to make them feel good about themselves.

    Whatever the case, we either tend to be accepting of it, or let it embitter our entire lives. Not a lot of people can let go of resentment towards what had happened. Sometimes they also end up not understanding why. Sometimes, it’s better not just knowing. Not all things need to be understood or known, because the truth might very well break them.

  • Dick Woodhouse

    Beautiful comments, Tom! It must be a wonderful feeling knowing you touch so many people though your words and inspiration.

  • Barak Telle

    Your story is so inspiring. It goes to show how much knowing your passion and determination can lift you to heights people never imagined yo could climb.

  • brainedet

    I like your courage, teachers can sometimes traumatized students unknowingly please forgive her and next time just give her a hug for pushing you to your destiny.

  • moondebi

    Life is to move on. Some experiences leave us heartbroken but they teach important life lessons as well. We keep on growing through life experiences.

  • Danielle M

    I guess there are many ways to join the road of experience living and many questions that will never get a response. But who you are now and what youare doing to make you happy and others is what matter some times.

  • Maury Cheskes

    I know the feeling of trying to make up for lost time. I agree, that there was much less superficiality and politics during our younger years, but I believe as we grow older we value our existence much more. Before I knew what true pain was, I though I was unlucky and that the world was out to get me. Once I took in how fortunate I was to be away from genocide and to have a supportive family and group of friends, I felt much more appreciative and determined to make my life matter every day. I hope you can hold nostalgia from your childhood, but also have things to look forward to and pursue. Thanks for your heartfelt and honest piece. I wish you all the best.

  • Meg W

    Sometimes we spend too much time and resources chasing after goals that are never worth it in the end. I couldn’t have put it better myself 🙂

  • Oliver

    As a kid I also wanted a lot of things that in retrospect were really very unimportant. We live and we learn I guess.

  • Daphne

    What a beautifully written and fun to read piece. I really learnt a lot and the post has helped me do a lot of self reflection. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • Oseghale Justin

    A great lesson surfaces in this writeup, never you look down on anybody because we live in a very small world. The good thing about it is you didn’t confront her… Let me stop by quoting “what goes around, comes around”.

  • Oseghale Justin

    This is a very inspiring write-up, it’s better not to look down at anyone because no one knows tomorrow.

  • Oseghale Justin

    A very crucial point was made in this story which tells us not to criticize or condemn anyone because no one knows tomorrow…. It really inspired me… Thanks for this

  • Oseghale Justin

    This is really a nice story, it teaches alot of lesson, a lesson here is never to underrate anyone because no one knows tomorrow. thanks this write up.

  • Angelica P.

    I used to get frustrated at the idea that I haven’t gotten it all figured out (I have this sort of personality that I want to be able to know my next move to avoid mistakes). The older I got I realized if we did figure out everything at once then there would be no point in living? I guess that could one way relate to your experience of not understanding why and how things are happening. And truly, someday we will understand.

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