I first wrote this list last summer in upstate New York, having just returned from three and a half months living in Ireland. I was tired, I was discouraged, and I was surrounded by things that made me anxious.
Home felt unfamiliar. I saw gaps everywhere, it seemed–in people, in things. Each passing day seemed chalk full of tensions between intentions and actions, dreams and fulfillments, experiences and appreciation. I was thinking a lot about unfulfilled desire and what it means to embrace life. I wasn’t coming to any conclusions.
This list is an exercise in acknowledging some of that unfulfilled desire and those unanswered questions I have about life, love, and the world around me. I can’t articulate very many of the answers to the “why is this so” question, but I can say “it’s funny how,” and that, for me, represents an initial kind of partial, visceral liberation from the unspoken power of these things. “It’s funny how” is my head nod to some of the realities of life (beautiful and bizarre), but beyond that, a springboard via which I started thinking about bridges for these gaps, gratitude for these gifts, and trailblazing for these terrains of desire.
And it’s funny how…
- things that we never thought would come to fruition are happening
- much the things we never thought would matter…matter
- love saves people
- our pasts remain a part of us but we keep moving forward
- we feel so empty and so full simultaneously
- the future makes us shudder and sigh
- people change, remain the same
- we keep searching for the one escape that will last, when we actually have the power to choose a life which we might not want to escape after all
- the bittersweet things still taste the same after all these years
- people who we thought would always stay leave
- people who we thought left come back
- many books remain untouched on our shelves
- we spend our entire education complaining about its demands instead of relishing it while we have it
- we crave VHS tapes and Honey Nut Cheerios and tangible reminders that we were just as real then, in childhood, as we are now
- we spend hours envying other people’s lives online instead of just living our own
- we choose social media over the world that is all around us
- many double standards have developed within us since we have last thought to examine ourselves for such things
- the pursuit of happiness so often destroys us, but the full embrace of our already-present resources frees us to be happy—how long it takes for us to really get this, regardless of how many times we have heard it said or seen it written
- we believe the lie that we need to measure all of our time, that time can never just drift by as we participate in something that means something unique to us
- afraid we are to change things
- a small cup of tea or coffee or a small word of kindness can turn entire days around
- much gratitude means
- often we look forward or back instead of focusing on this very moment that we have been given
- we so frequently smother creativity in favor of practicality
- quickly we forget to get involved in the basics—tasting, smelling, seeing, touching, and hearing
- deeply in love our culture is with ideas, and how averse we often are to actually acting upon them in meaningful ways
- watching a sunrise or sunset from the top of a mountain can suddenly put some things into serious perspective
- lucky we are to be alive
The next stepping stone I envision (after this list) is one on which I am able to name not just the gaps but the bridges themselves–the forests of gratitude, the trails for the journey. I want to contribute to the cartography of reconciliation and healing that will help mend the gaps between people and the gaps within ourselves. I want to step in the forks of the rivers Whole and Alive and be healed by them.
I crave an active niche in the restoration of the world. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled and my mind open. I’ll be curious. I’ll be wandering. I’ll be writing. I’ll be sketching mountain ranges on this borderless map alongside much better artists than I. I’ll be seeing you along the way. I can’t wait to meet you. Let’s make a way together toward Entire.