Thirty. A year to wash my hands, pronounce myself clean, and finally – get on with living.
Enter: vulnerability. Always never feeling adequate. Do the doves feel this? I wish I knew.
I didn’t know much about turning thirty before I did. Life does surprise.
At 29, one of my single greatest self-discoveries occurred while waiting in queue for a dirty toilet stall inside the narrow corridor of a small brick building at an outdoor speedway. With a person standing on both my left and right hand sides, I was trapped in a human funnel with nowhere to gaze other than up, down, or straight ahead at the wall two feet away. Instead of dropping my head low to the ever persistent beck and call of my smart phone, I opted to stare straight ahead. Of course, staring at the ceiling was an option but that sort of behavior typically receives an “are you feeling alright?” from nearby strangers.
Let me tell you, that brick wall did not look away. The more I stared, the more it stared right back. Eventually, the pure neutrality of the wall turned my tide of patience as fast as an unwanted fly that returns with annoying persistence no matter hard you swat. What then bubbled up subconsciously in response to the brick’s blank expression somehow confronted my sense of self more than an awkward silence with a new acquaintance.
Me: What are you looking at?
Me: Well…um..er, I wouldn’t put it that way.
Me: Fine. You win. I am nothing.
How do we make sense of the void? The emptiness? The moments of the day when there is no call to action- no response to set into motion. Only a clear and wildly obvious need to be silent. On the surface, silence never feels like enough. And that is exactly the reason behind why so so hard for me to ever feel like enough. Because the silence grips, sinks its teeth into me, and bares down until I yelp, “Enough! I need to KEEP MOVING!”
But there was nowhere to move as I stood in line for the bathroom. The wall reflected the shadow side of my being – the emptiness, the loneliness, the cold parts of myself. They exist and I spend more of my time running away from them than I do acknowledging them.
Just acknowledge. How simple! But the thrilling questions like, “who do I want to be?” are a more luxurious sentiment on the tongue than “where the hell did all this personal baggage fly in from?”
My Cold: Superficial. Drama. Selfish. Demanding of own way. Rigid. Always right. Anxious.
As long as I keep moving, I’ll never get cold, right?
We are more grateful for the sun when we have felt the rain.
In the middle of summer, I call winter ‘my friend’.
If I Were a Carrot:
A gardener kneels down to collect her vegetables after a taste of the autumn chill. She scrapes away the dirt surrounding her carrots, carefully uprooting the orange root from its home underground. However, the digger pauses and squints as she brushes off dirt, realizing that the carrot she plucked is in fact, premature. The roots are long and spindly, its dwarfed flesh has yet to fully grow. Flustered, she shoves the root back into the earth, wondering how much more time it requires to mature.
My body is slowly morphing into its natural fate but my roots need more time to age. At thirty, there are still so few answers to the questions I dawdled with at 29. I once read that “the best students didn’t demonstrate creativity in solving a problem so much as in finding the problem.”
Perhaps, solving the impossible questions that we ask ourselves is of lesser importance than the task of simply noticing how these individual questions have morphed and changed throughout the span of our lives.
A few examples of questions that I asked myself in my twenties were:
“When will I get married?”
“Will I have children?”
“What is my one-true niche calling? What is my brand?”
Gradually, I rearranged the content of these questions to ask:
“Do I believe that marriage is the only way to actualize whole and complete partnership in my lifetime?”
“How do I want to pass on my wisdom and the wisdom of this earth to future generations?”
“Will I spend this short but precious life living under the surface of fear or harnessing its waves to explore more areas of personal growth?”
If there is any insight to gleam in all of this, I would offer:
Ask questions without answers. Maintain intimate eye contact with walls. Eat your vegetables.
Thirty spent in Tasmania, Australia.