We still have two months to go before the year is up, but for some reason I’m finding myself combing through the past ten in reflection of where I’ve been at 27. Maybe because my head is constantly processing the what-ifs and the then-whats of how 28 and 29 and 30 are going to look, once I find out where I’m going next for school. [And yes, we’re purposefully ignoring the possibility of not getting in anywhere, for now]
Twenty-seven has been such an exquisite experience. That sounds a bit pretentious when I read it, but I mean it so genuinely. This year has floored me, repeatedly, with the joy I’ve felt here, despite how uncertain my future has looked. That, and the deeper knowledge gained about myself and what I really want from life, even when I’ve figured out some of the pieces through some less than ideal misadventures. I try to quantify in my mind what moving back to Seattle, and into this crazy trajectory, did for my capacity to live in the present and I just can’t. It almost feels like 27 was this invisible line in the pavement that I finally stepped over, unwittingly, into a parallel life where everything somehow works just a little bit better. It’s almost imperceptible, but the air is different on this side.
What I do know is that I finally managed to stop trying to live the rest of my life before I get there. And I’m not so sure why, since I was sitting with the perfect recipe for a melt down about not having a plan to move forward. I’d left my job, left my partner, left my still nacent social network in my second adoptive home state, left the constant warmth and sunshine of the desert to trade for a lot of rain. I had no insurance and not a clue what I would do for money, or more importantly for a fulfilling, productive career.
I just felt sure that I needed to get on the road and that the movement, because anywhere was forward, would be a catalyst for the rest to work itself out. Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks and it will mark exactly one year ago that I moved into this big, warm, loving house with these warm, loving people. I think about what they have meant to me in the course of a year and again, it’s hard to quantify. They are a huge part of the reason I’ve found the capacity to slow down and to really be present in each 24 hours. Together, they are one of a few elements I always lacked in the past: a respectful, intentional community to which I can be vulnerable and true. Their love has helped me to embrace my imperfect self—nerdy, bad dancer, often disheveled, sometimes silently neurotic—all of it. It’s like growing into a dress that finally nails it in all the right places.
And through that, I feel like I gained some much needed swagger. Not the conceited kind, or anything derived from myself, but from the little, inconsequential things that make me feel so damn happy that in this moment nothing can touch me. Like biking home tonight from class. All the hills between home and campus made me a bit ripe when I arrived for our 3 hour lecture, but it was worth the pure joy I got racing through town at dusk with a soundtrack bumping.
And then the ride back home was double the high—happy to be out of class, temporarily anonymous in the dark, yellow and orange leaves swirling in the pools of light coming down from street lamps, cold air cutting my lungs, killing my legs on the inclines, racing another mystery cyclist through the intersections.
Being on that perfect little blue and black frame turns me into Robyn, full of electropop neon swagger and punches and I-dont-give-a-fucks and dancing-on-my-owns. Coming and going, I arrive exhilarated. Alive. Electric.
Reveling in all that electricity without feeling like I was supposed to be somewhere else—that’s what this year has been about. I’ve managed to chip away at the notion I held onto for over a decade that somehow I had to be successful and hyperproductive all the time. All. the. time.
Instead, I have discovered the beauty and necessity of fallow periods. It makes sense for the natural world and since we’re a part of that (as much as civilization has resulted in our denial of this), it makes sense for us too. But our culture doesn’t allow for this kind of personal lag time, despite how critical it is as we grow and shift in our bones. Self care and exploration are viewed as products of weakness or a lack of ambition. It took me until I came home from Kabul, tired, depressed and confused, to realize that this is part of why so many people in the West are miserable, and that tapping out is ok. Critical, even.
And looking back through the pages of this blog, it’s easy to see that my fallow period hasn’t been one of inactivity. It just hasn’t been characterized by my past struggles to somehow achieve everything right-now-all-at-once. And as a result, I know now where I’m going. Vaguely, but confidently. And I know what things I’m not willing to give up in the future. I know what to fight for.