Year 40. Day 1.

I woke up. Brushed my teeth, puttered around. Picked up coffee and breakfast and drove to the park. The latte I finished en route and I ate most of a protein box in the car.  And then I went hiking by myself. Which… unless you count my exercise runs in the woods I’ve never done.

Matthew Inman (creator of the Oatmeal cartoon) wrote a thoughtful missive on the confusing and pointless idea of continuous permanent happiness. That’s how I interpreted it anyway. It’s not a destination you arrive at. Or a fucking journey either. The idea that you’re in this achievable stasis of contentment is just… wrong. It’s a recipe for frustrated failure that completely abandons the idea of nuance.

I am not always happy. Fuck, in the course of a single day the range of emotions I can, or may experience would read like a seizure of brain activity.

I think my goal for being 40 is just acceptance.  And by that I don’t mean passivity. I mean that for me there will never be enough. If I get hit by a car and lie bleeding in the street tomorrow, my dominant emotion will be frustrated rage, because I want more and it’s not enough time.  But what I realized when I laid with the arms of the person I’ve waited most of my life to be with riding out the last minutes of my thirties, is that… that same statement will probably still be just as true if I were 80. So I have to learn to take moments of satiety and accept that those are enough. I can’t use the word satisfaction, that doesn’t sound transient enough. I will feel… in moments, fulfilled. Not perpetually. Not as a single thing of achievement. Just here and there. And that sometimes I feel frustrated with the struggle to achieve, or to nail down what it is that I feel like I “should” be doing.  Not for anyone else, or record keeping, or comparison. Just… true attunement to the frequency I run on. That I have given myself enough fuel and space and input to know what it is that feels valuable and meaningful to me. To stop and pay attention to myself and go into the woods or read or write to listen to music and remember what I’m supposed to be doing.  Create. Thrive. Adapt. Struggle. Suffer if I have to, at least if the pain is part of intelligent growth, in pursuit of something meaningful. Because it won’t all be glorious joy, it can’t be.  Acceptance of the fact that the elation is always the counterpoint on the pendulum to sadness, grief, stress, struggle. And none of things are bad. They just are.

The kind of pain that’s pointless is the stupid external measurements and restrictions you apply to yourself that are part of a system or idea or goal that isn’t something self identified.  WHY are you doing what you’re doing? Is it for you? What purpose does it serve? If the struggle is truly in pursuit to be your own person it matters, it will have results you won’t feel frustrated by or stress that isn’t just an irritating pointless wave.

I need to spend more time deliberating. To… Exercise. Write. Read.

The end of my marriage was the start of something. The universe answering a question I spent a long time figuring out how to ask. Here’s a milestone birthday. Use your one lifetime wisely.  Weather the unexpected with as much patience and grace as you’re able, forgive yourself when things don’t go exactly as you planned. Chase the things you want. Love big. Leap, push, grow and don’t stop to look around to wonder what anyone else things about what you’re doing.  Don’t waste the time, because you can’t ever get it back.

Live. Live. Live!  because you’re eventually going to fucking die!

Advertisements

Notes from Trip 39 Around the Sun

It’s been an interesting year.

I ended a nearly 10 year relationship with my best friend & we’re now divorced. Amicably but necessarily distant. People change. To me the idea of doing nothing was ultimately more difficult to swallow than completely starting over. He’s a person I respect, admire, and love but it was no longer working for me. I feel immensely grateful that, with a few completely understandable bumps, we handled the entire thing like two people who respect and care for each other … and I learned that happens far less often than it should.

So if you’re reading this and don’t know what to say, don’t sweat it. I realize it’s an awkward thing for people to respond to. Now you know. No condolences required. It was a difficult thing and I am a much different person than I was 9 months ago.

I am more than ok. Things are great.

My family above everything else are happy, safe, and healthy. The rest of it, while trying at times, is just part of being alive. Through all of this they reminded me that I never have to doubt their love, support, and loyalty. We do insanity well, and no one goes it alone.

My friends are extraordinary. Patient, compassionate, brilliant, brave people. To anyone I doubted ever, even just to myself, I’m sorry… that was always about me, never about you.

My job. Has transformed into more of an actual career than I could have ever anticipated. Getting the hell out of the toxic environment I was in over a year ago was far and away was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. I work with some of the coolest, smartest people I’ve ever met. I feel stupid every day but never without resources. Humility means growth. I work in a culture that actually is …so much more about people’s intellect and ability than anywhere else I’ve ever worked. I have flexibility that I’ve never dreamed of and like every popular article about modern start-up culture, unlimited PTO, and flexible work environments preach, if you treat people right they will give you their best. Sometimes my best in the last year has been lacking a bit while I navigated a gigantic tidal wave of personal changes… but I truly feel like I work in an environment where my personal desire to perform well is something that my colleagues share, just for the sake of building something cool. After my first year and the departure of my boss/a company founder I inherited a lot more responsibility, and actually got a raise I feel like I deserved and didn’t have to fight with anyone for it. I try never to take it for granted. I’ve had a job since I was 15 and I’ve been through my share of shitty employment. I know how bad it can be.

I sold the first house (condo) I ever bought. I lived without a car for 7 months & bought a new one. I moved into a fabulous apartment with one of my oldest friends.

I PAID OFF ALL OF MY REMAINING STUDENT LOANS AND MY LAST CREDIT CARD. I have a car loan. That’s it. I have never been this kind of *debt-free* in my entire life. Finally. FINALLY. I will never get tired of reading that.

I’ve traveled. I went to L.A., twice. To Philly. To Florida to surprise my Grandma for her 80th birthday. To Portland for work and for fun, twice in less than 7 months. To Baltimore, Richmond, into the woods. I’ve gone to shows, baseball games, to museums, to restaurants, movies, happy hours, dinners, taken road trips. I started work to complete my large tattoo (all the road trips). I cut my hair (see the photo duh). I celebrated my Mom’s retirement (how is that even possible – neither of us is old enough for that). I’m going to spend TWO weeks at the beach (some of it working).

I started over.

I fell in love. Hard. That’s a long story for another day. Probably not here. 😛

I read a story somewhere, possibly fictitious… it doesn’t diminish the sentiment.

A little girl and her younger sister are at the pool. The older sibling is in the deep end trying to coax the younger sister to dive in. “But I’m scared” insists the little girl. They go back and forth, unaware they’re being observed. Finally an older woman, watching the exchange swims over to the younger girl at the edge of the pool. “It’s ok to be scared. Be scared and do it anyway.”

It’s a concept I try to embrace, daily… but also when faced with major decisions. I’ve said it a lot, to numerous people. I’ll say it again here. Fear is a terrible motivator. If you’re doing, or more likely NOT doing something, because you’re afraid – it’s a really good idea to divert all of your energy to figuring out why and most of the time, to do the thing anyway. In the last year I’ve done some of the hardest things I could of previously imagined and survived. Sometimes the real challenge is trusting yourself, you have to learn how to just get out of your own way.

When people talk about deathbed regrets they are never things you’ve done, they’re all of the things undone. The choices made by apathy. Surrender to attrition. The last year of my life was an utter refusal to give in to that. If I sound like I’m boasting, I no longer care. I make no apologies for being a driven, imperfect, fierce individual. I’m proud of the choices I made because a lot of them were incredibly difficult. They ran the gamut of pain from basic anxiety to near-paralyzing terror.

I was scared, I did it anyway and I am happier than I have ever been. So I’ll enjoy these last few days of my thirties, but by all means bring on 40… I can’t wait.