A time for writing, a time for life
Everything is different now, all of a sudden and not.
I’m moving in a few days. I’m also changing jobs.
New job, new house, new life.
Every day that passes now brings us, naturally, to the end of the year, and as it approaches I can’t help but think constantly of those last few weeks of 2015, the sense that I had of so clearly wanting to be rid of it, so clearly feeling ready for a year that was better. And 2016 has been better, and magical, in so many ways that have replayed themselves and come over and over again.
Case in point: about a week ago, I received a brand-new backpack in the mail. I don’t know who it’s from, I don’t know what the circumstances are that helped it make its way to me, but I am grateful and also, to be honest, not surprised. If my bag can be stolen but then lead to a funny, crazy, soul-searching experience that feels like a gift, why shouldn’t there then be even more gifts in the wings? If a year can unfold with so many bits of ordinary magic, why shouldn’t there be some extraordinary magic mixed in with it too? Why not?
And so I’ve been going on my calm little way all year (thank you, little seeds of faith down in the belly), and things have fallen into place here and there and clicked over and over and over again. Just over a month ago, I saw an apartment that I instantly loved but could not get, not at that moment, and I went home and went to bed and thought about it and said to myself, I want a sign, but the sign is probably just that I can’t afford it, I want a sign, and then the next day there was an offer of a new hospital job and suddenly everything was possible, just like that. And I went to see the house in person and met the landlord and she instantly felt like a friend, and we walked around the house and through the kitchen and at one point she said, “You know, it’s funny–I don’t know how you feel about meditation or anything like that, but I do some meditation practice of my own, and a few days ago I was sitting in my office and worrying about the house, and I just thought, Oh please, please let me find the perfect person for the house. And about an hour later, your email popped up in my inbox. And I think it’s perfect.”
I think it’s perfect too. And maybe it’s just coincidence and good timing and vigilance (I was, after all, looking regularly for apartments), but maybe again it isn’t. Maybe this, too, can be magical like so much of the rest of the year has been. Why not? Why not, as my friend would say, believe in All of The Things?
It does feel strange, though, talking like this in light of what the rest of the world looks like in recent days. Like I’ve been gorging myself on bubblegum and cotton candy–who cares about a house, who cares about your new job, look what’s happening down below us, all around us–while everyone else is finding sand in their teeth. But maybe building a longed-for life for oneself can be a radical thing, in its tiny, almost insignificant way. When news about the election broke last week the first thing I thought was, “Well that’s it, no one’s going to be able to write anything anymore, and what would be the use, because who’s listening?”
But of course, the exact opposite is true. Of course, as was pointed out time and time again on Twitter, our writers and artists and dreamers and thinkers are more important than ever. And maybe it’s okay to take this, and the bubblegum faith up above, and move forward so that you’re still believing in something sweet even though you bite down, now and then, on something gritty. Maybe these two things can exist at the same time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and writing, and worrying (as per usual) about the two–whether I still have the one, whether I’ll have time for the other. My faith is much grittier now–I believe, however quietly, in the rumbling magic of the universe. I feel its grit and dirt between my toes, beneath my fingertips. I didn’t get it before–I think I wanted to get it, and I wanted to believe that I got it, but wanting and having are two different things. Now, I think, I do understand, at least a little.
I have not had time to write in these last few weeks, maybe a month or so. I haven’t really had time to do anything apart from work and sleep. This needs to change, and it will–after all, don’t things come in threes? New job, new house, new and freshened writing life. This is what I hope for. This is what I’m reaching for. An enormous life that includes a dream house and writing and fulfilling work and still lots and lots of travel, and love and laughter and so many different faces all over the world and somehow the ability to do all of this without collapsing from exhaustion. I will make myself find a way.
A week or so after I signed the lease for my new house, I was walking home and thinking about the changes that were coming, and my mind went back to that conversation I had with a friend a little earlier in the year. About the yearning, and how it had left me. And I remembered about what this year has held and done and given, and I thought, well, of course–you don’t yearn anymore because look at what you have!
But even that wasn’t it, not really. I have these things now because I’m ready for them. I have all of these things now because I don’t yearn for them anymore, not in the way that I did.
You weren’t yearning for a house, as it turned out. Or even for travel, or writing, or all of these other things that you’ve counted on to make yourself happy over the years. You were yearning for yourself. For you, the person that you’ve always wanted to be.
Now you’ve found her. So, have at it.