"Set out afresh the sum to which you attach value and of which you take account."

This quote is from The Thirtieth Year a short story by Ingborg Bachmann. I read it several years ago and remember being blown away and feeling much of what was in it, but now that I am in my thirtieth year I feel even closer to the meaning within Bachmann's words. I highly recommend the story, it is about a man in his thirtieth year that suddenly finds himself changed, he searches for something, something different, some way of being that is not fixed on who he was before, something that might give meaning to his existence. He is searching for life. And throughout the narrative, Bachmann gives the reader insightful pieces of wisdom about life, value, and our place in the world. It is about being. Being, more than defining that being and recreating that which we have thought to be constant, unchanging, important because really all of those things are changing and inconsequential.

I find a familiar tone in the protagonist's examination of his old life and friends. There is a directionless wandering that I have lived and observed in many people in their twenties. The story addresses the moment when this purposelessness is thrown off, shed because it is unbearable, when one must reevaluate everything that has held importance in life. It requires the realization that one's values are a product of where one comes from and in a different set of circumstances would be completely different. Suddently others' perspectives and paths are seen and a greater understanding can be achieved. But, at this moment one also realizes that the means one has relied on to communicate are no longer relevant to this new way of thinking. New definitions are required for everything and especially for the self. Identity is shed for being. The illusion of good and bad, wrong and right, must give way for a new way of acting, choosing things to do and not to do, without judgement, without the predetermined set of values one's environment has dictated.