Thursday (Pearl Habour Day) I turned 24. Not sure if I’m ready to be in my mid-twenties…on the other hand I feel as though I’m finally aging into my personality; ‘born middle-aged,’ this one.
Plus my sister says I dress like a 70-year-old detective…or like a detective from the seventies (can’t recall which). So I’m getting closer to that – at least the former – being acceptable…not sure if it ever will be okay to dress like a detective from the seventies.
Much happened this year, I always think I learn a lot and then realize how little I actually know. But I like to think that between one thing and another this past year, I did learn something.
The move, ‘starting over’, taught me how dependent we really are – even as adults. We like to think that as we get older and take on more responsibility we become independent, but my move to Cincinnati showed me that we’re always going to need other people.
Whether it’s for simple things like moving a mattress upstairs (thank you, Grace), or to start your car when the battery dies (Sean), or getting around when your car isn’t working (SB), or for help hanging pictures on the wall (Bridgette & Carrie)…there are so many things I simply couldn’t do on my own. And then there are the bigger, less obvious things, like a laugh or consoling word, a good hug or encouraging text, a home-cooked meal…friendship, community – we need it. And I can’t help but be completely in awe of how that has manifested itself in my life – without any merit on my behalf. The kindness and generosity others have shown me is quite humbling.
This brings up the fact that our weakness is truly a beautiful thing. I mean yes, it is painful and inconvenient and frustrating, but this dependence we have on each other is what allows vulnerability to exist and us the opportunity to respond with love. Often it isn’t until someone shows themselves to be weak, to be vulnerable, that we soften our hearts to them. Often it isn’t until we ourselves feel weak and vulnerable that we allow others to ‘come in’.
I always feel tempted to do things alone, to withdraw and ‘proceed with caution’, but really there isn’t much to life without the goodness and challenge that ‘others’ present. And are they really all that ‘other-ly’, anyway? We’re all one body, ultimately. But I forget that, often. For some reason there is a glamour of an ‘independent life’ to me, a siren’s call, I’m sure. My weakness is a good wake-up call when I get far down the rabbit hole of self-centered existence.
And yet, while I rely quite heavily on others, I have come to see how important it is that we spend time alone. I used to dread being alone for any period of time, I avoided it as much as I could. And when I was alone I played some sort of entertainment in the background, constantly. I still do this. But I also have times where there isn’t anything…just life – as it is, unfiltered, unedited and without distraction. I really want to step into the fullness of the present moment without always needing something to add – whether that be a show or music or podcast or a phone call.
I think this is important because in order to receive we need first to be emptied. We’re so eager to overflow our lives with noise and I think this gets in the way of being able to receive – insight, healing, self-knowledge, love… in order to become ‘whole’ we must first not be – and not think we are – which can only happen in true moments of attention and awareness, not distracted or encumbered by things.
In this vein, I’ve fallen in love (again) with a simpler time. When I was young I read the American Girl stories about different heroines from various periods of time. I loved learning about these girls who lived in the 1800s, the early 1900’s the 30’s and 40’s…
I am not quite sure why I am so drawn to the ‘olden days’, but I think there are certainly things we can learn from previous generations. Things like just doing one thing at a time, even if it just means sitting to listen to a beautiful song instead of playing it in the background while doing something else. Or being present to those you are with instead of jumping between them and people you’re texting or that you follow on social media. Things like reading good books, instead of only watching television. Or thinking in the car instead of scrolling through Instagram at every red light.
Reading more has been a great habit for my life, as well as listening to classical music – something I hadn’t done in years – and staying off Instagram.
There are good things about technology and certainly about the age we live in – don’t get me wrong. I also think there are things – a charm and a loveliness – to times before us, things I’d like to re-enact in my own life.
I guess this takes me into what I’d like for 24. I want 24 to be a year of pulling back in many ways. I want to focus on the few people I’m close to and not the 200 people I vaguely know. I want to finish the books I’m working on and start new ones soon. I want to write more letters and spend less time texting. I want to spend more time alone so that the time I spend with others is not something I take for granted. I want to be okay with silence and not forcing small talk. I want to ask more questions instead of talking about myself. I want to listen to music and do nothing else. I want to write more – and about things that matter.
I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful about 24. I have no clue where life will take me from here but if there’s anything I got better at during 23, it’s trusting. I no longer have excuses not to. All the good that has taken place this past year is more than sufficient evidence that things will be well.
Even when you don’t know how, even when it doesn’t feel like it…they will.
What did you learn at 23?