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32 looking at 22

January 4, 2012

To Travel Hopefully is a Better Thing than to Arrive  -Oscar Wilde

I have had a fridge magnet bearing those words for nearly a decade. It’s followed me across oceans from house to house. I look at it everyday while grabbing milk at breakfast or preparing dinner. I read the words frequently. And  ignored them only in the way you can to something that has grown so familiar that it’s…well…overgrown. You can’t actually SEE it anymore.

Last night while putting my daughter to sleep I wandered back through old photo albums. Journeyed on epic adventures in the Tasmanian bush, paddled around in the Patagonian fjordlands, soaked up the rays of our first spectacular months in Kauai.  Marveled at the face of my early 20 self.

Wow. I saw someone who was beautiful. Not in a vain, physical way. But in the starry-eyed just on the precipice of adulthood with the world ready to be laid  at your feet way.

Me. 22. Fresh from taking a leap of faith and landing on an island off the bottom of Australia desperately in love with the guy who is now my husband.

But rather than reveling in my endless possibilities I remember being so freaking insecure. I had no idea what I was doing with my life and made the assumption that everyone else must be making more clever decisions. I decided to write a book. I stopped writing the book. I started another. And another. And never finished a damn thing. I was scathing on myself. It my work wasn’t going to be revolutionary awesome, I didn’t want to do it.

I got a job I liked but didn’t love. But having a title, working in an office, having something to tell people i “did” felt like a relief. The organization achieved important, vital things that I believed in. So I let my creative side dry up while I focused on meeting key performance objectives and plotted a career path. And without love and attention my will to write died a quick, furious death.

I look at this person above and in that youth I see time. So much freaking time at my disposal. So much time to make, create, try and fail.

We moved to Kauai. I landed a cool  job that did work I believed in.  Rinse. Repeat.

There is nothing wrong with this. Except I hated that my husband no longer encouraged me to write anything. One day he mentioned maybe I’d take it up again in retirement. That struck me deep in the guts. He meant well but I  looked around wondering “How in the hell did I ever get here?” Here is cool. I mean my desk overlooked the Pacific Ocean and I had acres and acres of magical, tropical gardens to explore as part of my job. But I really want to be doing something else.  I remembered my old dream of living a creative life. It looked like a scar. Nothing left. It truly didn’t seem possible.

Then I had my first child. And another. Moved across an ocean. Found a new community. Bought a house in desperate need of renovation. Never slept. Spent most of my waking time caught in the wonderful gulag. The only way I can think to truly describe how parenting young children feels like.

Somewhere in the rare two seconds of quiet it hit me. I’m in my early 30’s. I’m not young. I’m not old. But I can see my mortality in a way that 22-year-old girl  couldn’t grasp. I could see it reflected in the faces of my children. It should sound morbid but it wasn’t. My truth was essentially this:

I’m going to die. It could be in fifty years. It could be in fifty seconds. I’m going to try to live a creative life. I’m going to make lots of mistakes. I’m going to suck a lot. But that is the beauty. That is the experience. Get Brave Girl. Get Brave.

And then I saw it. My magnet. My old friend Mr. Wilde. He’d been there all along waiting for me to realize. Why not try to write a book again? I only have quiet between 8.30pm-12pm? Why not use it? I only write around 134 words a day? Yeah for me! It’s not the next great American novel? Who cares? Surprisingly…not me. Not anymore. I felt older yes. But more grounded, understanding and wait for it…wiser.

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive. That’s it. My deep thought for the New Year. And my motto for 2012. And hopefully beyond.

Where do you want your path to lead you?

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2012 11:07 pm

    i’ll purchase the first copy!! love you,

    d

  2. February 26, 2012 4:01 pm

    From my own book-writing-support-group in my head: 134 words a day? F*ck Yeah! And yes, slay the adverbs!

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