I’m feeling all kinds of immense gratitude right now for the people in my life. This year started out rocky, and with a lot of loss in terms of wonderful human beings that left us before we got to do and say everything we intended with them—and of course, when do we ever reach that point, of it being enough? We don’t. We continue to re-learn the lesson, all of us, in that very awful hard way, that even though we think we have time, we so often don’t.
In each of these moments, of that very awful hard loss, I have felt like another match got tossed onto my fire, to the point that by mid-Spring, I suddenly had this bonfire burning in my front yard, ten feet high. Some of these losses weren’t even mine; they were friends, of friends of friends, but I witnessed their effects ricocheting through my communities and felt their veritable weight in my own body. In the wake of each, I felt a certain clarity in my heart: that I had no interest in expending more energy toward negativity and pain.
I had begun to see that giving in to that energy wasn’t just feeding it, in a feedback loop that’s tough to get out of once you’re mired in it. It was also holding me back from achieving those things most important to me, be them relationships/community, professional goals, or personal aspirations. Turns out, feeding pain’s ego in one area of life doesn’t keep it confined to that area—it spills over, infecting the rest of our layers with an urge to expect the worst from each other, whether that means dying, cheating, lying, or otherwise inflicting pain that encourages us to think see, this is what happens when you trust. And that is some toxic shit.
It also turns out that Portland has given gifts to me that I never saw coming. When I moved here two and a half years ago, I thought it would be just one more stint on the West Coast, one more dot on my map of squirrely trajectories, and definitely not a place where this restless, anti-establishment Aquarian would heavily consider buying a home (don’t hold your breath, thanks to climate change + Californians).
During the trials and events that unfolded in my spaces over the last year, this place—these people—have been present and inviting in ways that pushed me through my own lingering barriers of social anxiety. The generosity and genuineness and vulnerability of the people who have taken up posts in my world here have given me the strength to fully embrace my own inner truths that I allowed to be quieted, tamped down, and erased to all but a skeleton in years past.In light of the losses, these gifts have pushed me to fully embrace that I have nothing to gain by loitering in the corner with fear and avoidance. Instead, by choosing vulnerability again and again, even in the face of past and present hurts, I have been able to take firm root in a community of dreamers and makers and doers that spans my whole beloved playground—up and down the I-5 corridor from Baker to Hood, and from the ocean to the Rockies.
This is my love song to you all, and I’m singing it loudly, awkwardly, and unabashedly:
Gratitude: For people that are holding me accountable to my goals, on so many levels. For the people who are unafraid of intimacy in all its versions—unafraid of diving deep into vulnerability right off the bat, no time wasted. For friends unafraid to say ‘I love you’ and mean it. For people that are patient with our struggles, but push us outside our comfort zones because they really see us and know what we are capable of. For people who hear out your visions and ask “how can I help you get there,” instead of telling you how difficult/unrealistic/scary/crazy it sounds to them. For the people whose stoke propels us forward, and who show us that when we say Yes—instead of giving in to fear of judgement or rejection—our openness and energy are reciprocated back to us ten-fold.
Try harder, dig deeper, love more, fear less.