Friday, July 31, 2015

& yet

I read a line the other day, forgive me for not remembering who said it, "Life is suffering. And yet..." There isn't a whole lot of fluff to it and its certainly not the kind of line that usually sends me into a tizzy. But on this day, in this life, the 'And yet' could not have felt more righteous. I say this because I'm starting to realize that sometimes "the answers" don't come wrapped with shiny red bows and land directly on our doorstep. Sometimes, though we are taught to think otherwise, the right thing to do is not as clear or as obvious as we are told it will be when the time is right, when we are ready to see it.

Sometimes THE answer is just showing up. Showing up to life and giving it a whirl. Showing up to life and apologizing, head hung low, for whatever you're carrying on your shoulders. Showing up to life and saying, "I don't know how the hell this is going to work" and someone nodding and saying, "Neither do I." Showing up even though you have been throwing up the entire way there. Showing up even though its one of those days where you wish you had the financial freedom to stay in bed. Showing up because you said you would or because you love the person on the other side of the door. And sometimes, showing up means saying no, because you have something more important to do, like take care of yourself.

I guess this is why the 'And yet' spoke to me so deeply. Life right now, and for the next few years, is going to be hard and stressful and broke at times. There will be suffering and it will require growing up. But you keep going for the And yet, the moments where you look around, despite your account balance and overwhelming stress, and realize how much you love this life, the life that you get to shape into your own special story. Sometimes, my And yet moment is when I have a really exhausting day, the bus takes forever, it's hot as hell, and I get to the doorstep and Zach opens the door smiling, and it all melts away. Sometimes, my And yet moment is when my boss and I cannot fathom how we are going to get it all done, and in the midst of it, we find ourselves giggling like crazy. Sometimes, it's just seeing Maddy's face, after all this time, growing up together, and still getting to have her as my friend. Sometimes, it's when I cannot fathom how I'm going to make it, and Sara texts me asking for advice, and I realize we are in the same boat, or when Sara sends me a postcard, and all of the negativity flies out of the window. Sometimes, it's Phoebe pulling up aggressively in her weird little bean car to save the day. Usually, it's my meem, talking me down from whatever mental crises I'm having, and reminding me, how young I am and how good I have it. Yes, my people are almost always my And yets.

I have almost always put more weight on choosing the perfect career path than I have on actually liking my life. Over the past few months, I've realized how scary it is that I'm not 100% sure what I want to be when I grow up. But I've also realized that my life is really special and I am lucky to love a lot of miraculous people and to in turn be loved by them. Maybe I won't know what I'm going to do until I just do it. Maybe that's okay. Maybe that doesn't make me any less smart, just less convinced that there is only one right path.

I don't know what comes next and yet, I love right now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Perfection & Rejection & Other Words That Are Dumb

It would seem unwise to tell you all of my secrets, but at this point, I really don't think they're secrets anymore. I'm going through this weird phase where the future is unclear but I'm not scared. In fact, I am deeply content, at this moment, in this life. And I don't think that comes from jobs or awards or recognition or praise, nor do I think it ever will. I don't think it comes from the stars aligning and the world becoming a better place, because there is so much work to do, every day, to keep making things better, for all of us. Hard, dirty, sticky work. I think the reason I am content, even though I'm broke, clueless, and pretty scared for what happens next, is because I know I will be okay.

How can you know its going to be okay? You really can't know that something awful or disastrous won't happen every day when you wake up, because one day, eventually, a bad thing will happen to you. Not that many bad things have happened to me, relatively speaking. That isn't to say that I haven't deemed many days that absolute worst of my life because I was tired, sad, grumpy, or hungry. But all in all, on this side of things, I look at my life so far and I know it has been incredibly lucky and easy. I have parents that bent over backwards in every way possible, to make my life comfortable, and still do. I have friends that love me unconditionally, despite how much of an asshole I can be. And I have a boyfriend whose love I can't put into words. So I think...what do I have to give to the world that no one else does? Because, after all, that is the thing I'm searching for, the answer to my myriad of questions. My answer, though it has always come in different forms, has always been to write things. That isn't to say, I write in some special way that no one else can write. I can't and I don't. But writing has always felt like the way out of the tunnel and into the light for me, and sometimes the best way to find your way out of that tunnel is to listen to how someone else did it. But sometimes not, sometimes finding your way out of the tunnel means hanging up a strand of lights, building a nice bed on the floor, and making a home out of the dark. The tunnel is not so bad. It means you're growing in your uncertainty and you're learning how to struggle with grace.

I have always considered myself a decent writer and people have told me from time to time that I am more than decent. Over the years, I think I let my ego get the best of me, and I started to believe that my writing deserved to be heard. Writing deserves nothing. It simply exists. I'm not saying it is a bad thing to be confident and secure in your talents, IT IS A WONDERFUL THING. But...over the past year, I failed to win any of the writing contests I entered, or get published at all. And it knocked me down a few notches and it sucked. It felt like a year with no progress, a year with no accolades. I stopped writing poems for a while because they felt hard to write. I haven't written short stories because...well for no good reason. And as you may have noticed, I've written minimal blogs. And I need to stop. I need to write and get over it and be strong and be accountable and keep going. Writing revolves around rejection. Writing is steeped in rejection. Its how you learn to deal, to cope, to survive. And it hurts cus it's raw, but damnit, that's cus it's real.

I often use the same John Steinbeck quote when coping with my sometimes unbearable/ sometimes nonexistent perfectionism, “And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” In a way, I feel that some of the pressure I've always put on myself has been lifted. Over the past year of writing rejections, I've realized that writing isn't the only thing I can do well. And through that realization, the pressure I put on my writing has alleviated itself. I can be other things and a writer simultaneously. In fact, I could have a job that doesn't revolve around writing and still write. Or I could have a job that revolves around writing and only write at work. There is a lifetime of possibilities. I think practicing goodness and mindfulness, remembering how my actions affect the people who love me, and taking care of my mind, body, and spirit are the important pillars of my life right now. I don't want to rush into a career path that I'm not sure is right for me just to feel like I'm checking off the right boxes. I don't want to spend money on things I don't need just to feel like I'm keeping up appearances. I want to stay hydrated and to stay dreaming. I want to immerse myself in each moment, in the here and now, because I might not ever have this kind of time for breathing again. 

So my secret is, even though I should've decided this a long time ago, I don't want to be perfect anymore. I want to make other people happy but I also want to be happy. And to me, those two things, in their purest form, come together. And I think that's enough of a path for now.