Writers Note: This post was written in Mid-December 2015 – Initially, I wanted to wait until closer to New Years to post it, but my best friend came to town and I was distracted, then January, February and March happened. I feel like this post is strong enough to stand up still with minimal editing (I changed references from “this year” to “in 2015”). It is a bit longer, but it is basically the only year-end reflection I wrote on 2015.
Over the last year and a half I have had the pleasure and honor of traveling extensively, and often somewhat unexpectedly. My travel arrangements have ranged from mostly planned to generally haphazard. I have been able to have experiences that push me beyond my horizons and show me new ways and approaches to life.
My first trip in this particular chronicle was an experience on the East Coast of the United States. I flew out to Washington, DC in early November 2014 with a Chrome backpack full of clothes and a ticket back from Boston a couple weeks later. I navigated the East Coast making plans no more than a few days in advance. I stopped with friends – some that I had not seen since high school – visited with former classmates from grad school and met friends from Twitter. I stayed at AirBNB’s that I booked less than 12 hours before I needed to crash there. I made my phone battery last longer than I knew it could. I saw museums and landmarks and statues and some small quantity of east coast fall foliage – though I still want to visit Maine at peak season.
After that trip I asked myself a question that has continued to pop up over the subsequent year.
In February 2015, I was hired into a permanent position in my office. I earned the stability of knowing I have a job that goes until who knows when for the first time in my life. It is really awesome, I was given the opportunity to provide feedback to my supervisor as she was creating it. Having stability and permanence has been so strange and unusual and delightful, especially after an extended period of time on short term contracts. Every position I have had before this one was contracted for a set time.
I traveled to Europe, visiting Brussels, Copenhagen and Mälmo to do some service work with my faith community. For almost two weeks I stayed at a church and helped with university welcome events and attended services and built a stage and went on so many adventures both with others and alone in a foreign country. I remember learning to navigate a grocery store that was not set up in my language, interacting with folks that grew up in a different country, and learning new ways to approach common occurrences.
I ran six races this in 2015, starting with a 15k in March, a few half marathons through the year and including a marathon in early October. What they don’t tell you about marathons is that it does not just impact your body, it impacts your mind and heart – one often ends up feeling terribly down for a period of time after. My period of time last about two weeks, which led right up to a trip to Vancouver, BC for another half marathon. A half marathon that I completed in about 20 minutes more than my previous half marathon.
My writing has flagged a bit during this phase of my life, my sense of time passing has felt like a rushed blur – I make it from one place to the next to another in an effort to meet my personal goals and accomplish professional tasks and be social enough to not feel horrifyingly alone.
Even my faith has suffered – I have wrestled through the difference of living my faith as tradition and obligation versus living my faith as choice and lifestyle.
After each one of these experiences, I have asked “How do I live now?”
Like, what does doing all of these things change in me? What are the differences in my life after accomplishing these things. Since I got back from the trip in Fall 2014, I have expected that my experiences would give me some big change I needed to make in my life.
When I look back at me then and consider my life now, I realize that the change is not a big thing. The change is day by day. “How do I live now?” is a pause, is a consideration, but the big changes happen slowly.
The big changes happen in the little moments.
It has been an adventure. All of it has been an adventure. And sometimes, in the moment, I do not love the adventure. Sometimes it is scary or sad or lonely or hard. Sometimes I cannot admit those things in the moment. But it is always an adventure, and looking back, I love the adventure. I love the moments I felt sad, because I can distinguish sad from happy. I love the moments I was scared, because it meant that I have been daring. I love the moments the adventure was hard, because it meant it has been easier at some point.
This is a life of courage, this is me growing more confidence, more certainty. This is me starting to find some sort of direction.
That is how I live now.