Swinging for the fences

I haven’t been compelled to write in a while. I was hoping, unfairly, that this trip to Arizona would magically open my mind to what I want my next step to be. I don’t think it has, but it’s been a good exercise to lay some of this out and see what feels true and where I can call bullshit on my thoughts.

I am good at working toward goals, but right now I don’t have any. Just a vague sense that I’m not doing all that I can or “should” be doing. I used to feel like I was going to change the world. Now I just wish to feel like I’m doing something meaningful or useful, even if it’s in a limited way, and fun. I think fun is underrated. There’s also a draw to being left alone to create in obscurity, which is pretty easily achievable, but won’t keep a roof over my head.

Over the last year and a half or so I’ve had this thought that I can’t quite ignore and it’s that I believe we place far too much importance on our value as a race and that no matter what we do it has little to no value in the grand scheme of things.

And now that I’ve finally written that out, who the hell cares? Maybe it’s a good thing. We exist and we have to do something with our time. I no longer believe that any one profession is better or more valuable than any other, we’re all just people after all. No special fucking snowflakes here. It doesn’t matter if we’re saving lives or fixing the office printer, so long as we do good work and we try to grow and better our selves. Unfortunately, a lot of people get stuck and mucked up with obligations and forget to water themselves, eventually shriveling up to die in the shallow soil of the lives they’ve accepted in complacency.

I don’t know that I’m capable of falling into that trap. At least not without being hideously aware of my shitty existence. I’ve always always always been that person who’s looking at what’s next, what else, what more? It’s both a good and bad quality. It pushes me to do better and be better, but it also keeps me from appreciating where I’m at and what I’ve done. It’s not a great thing to always be seeking more. Sometimes it really is enough. For instance, my personal life is off the charts phenomenal and I’m beyond grateful and aware of it. It’s my professional life that’s lacking at the moment.

Ultimately, I think as long as I’m not actively making life worse for others then I can do whatever the fuck I want. I just wish I knew what the fuck it is I want to do so I can make some effort towards it.

Societal norms, particularly the lure of the safe company job, are so ingrained in how I can possibly expect to take care of myself that it’s brutally difficult to see what other paths I can reasonably take. I am somewhat open to risk, will be more so once I’m out of debt in a few months and can actually start putting money aside, but there is nothing I’ve been able to conceive that I’m passionate enough about pursuing to make the risk worthwhile! And having to worry about fucking health insurance and retirement some day really put a damper on swinging for the fences. Damn responsibility.

Having to be a slave to money means that I have to be a slave to other people to exist in modern society. The problem is, I don’t want to have to rely on other people in order to make a living. If I make a product, then I’m reliant on people to buy it. If I sell a service, same. There’s already so much shit in the world. Do I really want to add to it?

I don’t know that that’s possible to escape without promising myself to a life of poverty and pretending to worship a god. While giving everything up and sitting in silence holds some appeal, I think that’s probably a short-term Eat Pray Love kind of experiment at best and not a long-term solution for the life I want to live. Refusing to engage with life for an extended period of time seems cowardly and boring.

Damn it all to hell and back. I know I want more control over how I’m spending my days. I want to minimize the demands on my time for what I feel are pointless requests. I’d like to feel like I’m providing some level of value, although I know I will continue to wrestle with achieving that because of the aforementioned feeling that everything is basically pointless, at least on a macro scale.

My favorite projects allow me to be creative and resourceful and typically generate a tangible product. I like to work with both my head and my hands and prefer to work independently. If only I knew what I wanted, then I could try to lean into it. I’m so good at getting shit done for other people. There really shouldn’t be such a hang up starting something for myself, but I’m stuck on needing it to feel worthwhile and wondering if anything I can do will ever feel that way. I need to come to terms with my ego.

I’m aware that this is a painfully narcissistic post. There are some schools of thought that would suggest at least part of my problem is that I’m too focused on myself and not enough on how I can service others. But when I think about being of service to others in a general way, it loses meaning for me. It goes back to a sense of disconnection, of questioning our value as a whole. I can’t function on the macro scale. It has to be more personal for me–one to one and then perhaps build from there, but starting small is hard and makes me question, “What is the point?” Is it enough to help one person at a time? Who am I to decide whatever I might have to offer is actually useful to someone else? It’s a crisis of confidence and validation. I mostly have my shit together, but I’m extremely conscious of how little I really know and I have so many doubts and questions about my own existence, how can I possibly impose myself on others claiming I can help? What do I have to offer that isn’t already on the table a million times over? I know no one can tell me what I’m worthy of, it’s something I have to come to terms with myself, but I’m struggling.

Most of my life I have been drawn towards wanting to help/please others, particularly those in my immediate sphere, out of a desire to be liked and to foster a sense of belonging I suppose. I’m damn good at it and that still holds true, but I’ve realized over the past year that it has come at the expense of often smothering my opinion or wants to make space for others to have what they want. After 27 years of this, I’m exceptionally bad at asking for what I want or even knowing what that is. And I struggle to trust that if I have the audacity to take up space and be fully seen that the people who matter most to me will still love me. I’m rolling my eyes a little at the cliche language that seems to be defining our generation, but it holds some truth. In reality, I don’t think I want anything particularly radical. It’s mostly about making a conscious decision to have and share my preferences and opinions particularly when asked instead of shrugging and saying, “Whatever you want.” And maybe also being brave enough to voice negative emotions when people overstep my boundaries instead of letting things slide for the sake of their peace.

Gosh, what a rambling post. I think I’m glad I wrote it out. I don’t have a conclusion.

I think maybe I’m excited to see where I go from here? Maybe it’s enough to question, enough to be aware, enough to be open and engaged with life. Every day I’m learning. We’ll see what happens next.

 

To ink or not to ink

I think about tattoos a lot and go back and forth between wanting to get one. There’s a million and one different reasons people give for getting their tattoos, but I think it boils down to a human need to define things as a means to give life, ourselves, whatever meaning and understanding. That song lyric or symbol or date or piece of art resonates with you somehow and it’s something you want to remind yourself and others is a part of your psyche. In my mind that is as powerful as it is limiting.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde writes, “To define is to limit.” I’ll admit, there is little I’m more fearful of than confining myself to a definition of who I am moment to moment. As a somewhat whimsical and volatile being, I can’t trust that I will want the constant memory of a part of myself I have since shed since needle met skin. I prefer the anonymity of the blank canvas in its infinite potential. It makes sense. I have ALWAYS been one to value possibilities and somewhat gun-shy of commitment. And yet…the allure is there, a constant subtle nag to shout this is who I am, or was, from my skin.

I find little fun in the finite, at least when thinking theoretically, and yet I realize the finite is where the action happens. All of my best growth has come when I’ve leapt off the cliff with only the confidence that I’ll figure out how to swim on the way down.

It’s the god damn brave who commit to something being the truth and then act with foolish daring in the name of getting shit done and moving forward. This is the foundation of the human race rising above all other creatures. We turned sounds into words to give meaning to our surroundings and rubbed sticks together to give birth to flame, not knowing why exactly we needed the burn. We are lunatics seeking the light in an impossible-to-perfect environment with too many variables to ever have any hope of being accurate.

Seriously, whoever thought mixing flour and water together and then heating it up was a good idea had no fucking clue they were creating a food staple for much of the modern world. Or what about the entire experimental field of medicine? Cutting people open, injecting foreign substances, removing and adding pieces…see? We are insane risk-takers.

We are constantly at war with each other and within ourselves seeking the balance of controversial ideas. And I think that is the allure of definition. Life is a complex beast. We lean into what feels right or seems logical given whatever information is at hand and continue adding blocks here and there building, what we hope, is a better future, more representative of who and what we are, seeking life, seeking meaning for whatever time we’re given.

Minding the Gap

One of my bigger epiphanies in the last year has been that I struggle, pretty much all the time, with the gap between reality and how I think something should/will feel. What it basically comes down to is that my imagination sets me up for a sense of loss because it has a tendency to gloss over the details, make everything seem magical, easy, and amazing and totally ignores the necessary effort–the FREAKING struggle–to achieve the desired outcome. I feel like it’s kind of a hybrid of impostor syndrome and maybe aggressive idealism?

So, when I actually have the experience in real life and it doesn’t come easy to me I have feelings of failure and question why I thought I could do it in the first place. And let me be clear, I’m not afraid of working hard and I’m not particularly prone to quitting. For whatever reason I just assume that if something doesn’t come naturally to me I must suck, because obviously everyone, literally anyone else on the planet can do a better job, right? And that’s so FUCKING PREPOSTEROUS it’s insane. Because we’re all idiots. Truly. Sorry to burst your bubble. We might have moments of clarity and talent when the stars align and we fucking get it, but, generally speaking, humans are morons and we’re all just doing the best we can with our limited knowledge and experience.

And I only JUST realized I do this for most things! I do it at work. I do it in my relationships. And I do it with my many varying interests. Now I can recognize it and talk myself out of it, but it takes conscious effort to stop feeling like a loser and to acknowledge that the struggle is part of the process, that the end result is usually pretty damn good, and that all that really matters is that I keep trying.

Sometimes I totally miss that a life event I wanted to happen has actually happened because it didn’t feel like what I was expecting. I’ll give you an example. When I moved here over a year ago I put a lot of mental pressure on myself to make new friends. It took me months to chill out about it and change my perspective. I actually realized I already have amazing people in my life so, while I was still open to meeting new people, I decided to focus more on being a better friend and strengthening existing relationships. Lo and behold, further into the year I reconnected with a college friend who invited me into her ever growing friend group and suddenly I have a bunch of new people to exercise and hang out with. But, because I didn’t consciously decide that I was going to make friends damn it and it all sort of unfolded organically, I didn’t fully realize until recently that my network has grown considerably since I moved here almost a year and a half ago.

Reality is almost always more subtle than what I expect. We don’t just wave magic wands around and poof! there’s everything we want in a neat little bow. And thank goodness for that. How boring would that be? Life would be a lot less special if it were that easy.

There is such an insanely huge gap between the world in my head and the life I’m actually living on a day to day basis, it’s no wonder I’m always falling off the damn cliff. And, honestly, I kind of love it. I don’t find the gap disappointing. If anything, it shows me possibilities and forces me to recognize the magic in the struggle and the little gifts of life that often unfold without having to strive for them.

Ready or not, here I come

Here we are in a new year, a little sicker, a little reluctant, a little resistant.

I am a big fan of symbols. New beginnings, goal setting, big dreams…I’m typically all about it. But right now I’m a little tired, a bit worn out by nothing in particular. Unwilling to return to a predictable schedule and routine. Simply not quite ready to lean into the discomfort of becoming more of who I want to be in this new year.

2018 was mostly great, barring one large unexpected loss. I’ve accomplished more than I thought I would, but also less. I’ve cultivated deeper relationships and realized the importance, luck, and gratitude of having friends who feel more like family. I revealed new layers in myself, and shed old ones. I am both burdened and energized with questions.

I would like 2019 to be the year that sets me up for self-employment and it very well could be if I can commit to an idea of what I’d like that to be. I have been struggling lately with the rampant nature of consumerism. I’m certainly not above it. Maybe it’s because of my schooling and career, but I’m hyper aware that we’re constantly being sold to and I’m tired of it. I’m not sure I want to wade into the endless sea of voices hawking goods and services we probably don’t need, but I don’t know if there’s another way.

Mostly in this new year, I hope to write more often, more deeply and honestly in an effort to capture and make sense of my thoughts and feelings. I want to remember, with less effort, that we’re all just people trying to live life to the best of our abilities, and it is a needless waste of energy to seek approval or to impress others. I expect that I’ll continue to try things on and let go of what doesn’t fit quite right. And I’ll keep finding the good in both the dark and the light.

2019, ready or not, here I come.

November: Another year for the books

I turned 27 this month. Despite my dislike for odd numbers, I am excited about 27. Last year was so good to me, probably the best year of my 20s so far since graduating. I moved on from toxic places and people and feel lighter. There was a lot more joy, creativity, and mental stability for which I’m grateful. I learned more about myself and have slowly started reprogramming some old thought processes that have been holding me back. I achieved some major goals and have had some life-defining experiences like living on my own and going on an incredible solo trip.

While the year wasn’t all sunshine and daisies, it was enriching and I appreciate the good and the bad. I like to think that every year I become more of who I’m capable of being and fall a little more in love with this life I’m living. This year I will, in no particular order,:

  • FINISH (!!!!!) paying off my student loans. Epic celebration to ensue.
  • Find a doctor and a dentist and actually schedule checkups
  • Research what it takes to buy and rent out half of a duplex property
  • Start saving for a down payment on said duplex
  • Continue playing with food. I’ve just begun making my own sourdough starter.
  • Pursue more freelance work in the interest of becoming more self-sufficient
  • Dabble in creative pursuits as they strike my interest
  • Go on another road trip???
  • Learn to change a tire and do an oil change
  • Read more, write more, dance more
  • Explore love, life, and remain open to the magic

Cheers to a new year full of potential and possibilities. See you on the other side.

October

I’m delinquent in getting my October post up, but man! It’s like I blinked and October was over. Time is flying.

I’ve had this vision for a photography series for a few months and October was the month that I kicked it off. I didn’t get as far along as I would have liked due to uncooperative weather conditions, limited daylight hours and general laziness, but it’s the start of what will hopefully turn into a collection. I like the idea of over the top/vintage inspired outfits in dreary, even rundown settings. I sourced the vintage top hat from Etsy and the ginormous poofy skirt from Ebay. I guess even as an adult I like to play dress up. Go figure.

I have a list of shots I’d like to take that I’ll work on creating as time and circumstance allows. Here are a couple shots from the first go round.

September: Lemon Yellow Da Vintage

I know, I know, I’m late. (Barely)

Where the heck did September go?! We just kissed the summer goodbye and POOF! in rushed fall. And so begins the season of my denial where summer can’t in fact be over just like that and it will last until June comes ’round again to warm up my hands. Hmph.

I mean, fall is cool, too, I guess. Apple season…apple pie season…apple cider donut season…what’s not to love? I’m pretty firmly anti-pumpkin, but I’ll drink my weight in hot apple cider if you want me to, just don’t forget the dash of cinnamon! And I’m not above going out of my way to step on the crunchy leaves or fling myself bodily into a massive leaf pile. No, you grow up.

Anyway. September. The title of my blog post will only mean anything to those of you who were also devoted fans of the gem of a children’s show, Arthur. A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K.

But, I digress.

Lemon Yellow Da Vintage=Leonardo Da Vinci, the focus of this month’s curiosity.

The ultimate renaissance man. Carelessly brilliant. Passionately curious.

While I’m not burdened by genius, I can wholeheartedly relate to Leo’s tendency to experiment and then bail, leaving things seemingly unfinished, choosing instead to take what’s been gained and tie it into something else, building on it, or following a new tangent entirely. It’s a character trait that often drives me mad, but what I’ve been coming to terms with this year is that I think it’s what lends me my creativity and much of my joy in life.

Reading about Leo reinforces to me that I may not just be a flighty individual (although, still could be), but that this is how I’m meant to learn and grow and experience all that I can in this life, and that’s pretty cool. I was initially going to write, “I probably won’t contribute a Mona Lisa or Vitruvian Man to the world”, but you know what? Those things really only gained fame centuries after dear old Leo left this earth. So the hell with it! I’m not looking for fame, I’m only looking for answers. Who knows what will come of my life? All I know is that following my curiosities will be remarkable for me and that’s enough.

I haven’t committed to a focus for October yet, but I have a few ideas. I guess you’ll have to check back in at the end of the month to find out.