Life has a way of finding new things to surprise us with and to shake things up to keep us on our toes. They can be small and feel inconsequential in the moment. Others are bigger and have an immediate effect on how you see the world. I’m in the midst of one of those bigger life surprises.
This is the crux, the core, of so much hesitation in my life. There are no guarantees afforded to us. But I always want more of what isn’t available: More stability, more reliability, no bad surprises. That level of expectation is, of course, is folly and pure madness to chase after such levels of security and predictability. Perhaps it is that excitement, joy, and real living are found at the edges, in that space where we’re taken beyond our comfortable spaces. Those parts we’re afraid to expose to anyone else, maybe even to ourselves.
Every year around the sun brings with it a multitude of opportunities, but the most important one to me these last few years is taking the time to understand myself better, explore those things that I connect with, what doesn’t, and express what’s on my mind and heart through outlets like this blog. Intentionally or not, I have often found myself alone on the journey which provides (more than?) ample time to think, reflect, overthink, and act. In a world that creates so much noise, the solitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
As it’s been in previous years, I struggle with finding ways to summarize a whole year of my life into one post. What parts should I share about publicly on this platform? What am I comfortable sharing? Can I be vulnerable enough to go deeper than I have before? Is there anything about my life that is useful to others? Was there a common thread tying everything together?
“Presence with others is first about showing up.”
Presence (Amy Cuddy)
Who are the most important and influential people in your life? Growing up, very likely it was the friends and family who you were around and see on a regular basis. They showed up for birthday parties and graduations. You hung out in each other’s homes just doing whatever, sometimes nothing in particular. Simply being around each other was enough. In high school, college, and into your 20s, regularly being around people this was often still the determining factor in who you were close to and you mattered to you. That setting could be a school, church, or your job.
Definition: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded”
At an undetermined point during my youth, I made a decision. Being an INFP and generally anti-confrontation and avoidant of difficult or painful situations, I became more intentional about trying not to put myself in places where I could be hurt or emotionally wounded by others. What better way to avoid pain than by avoiding activities that could involve pain? So what if some of those same activities also had the opportunity for real connection, warmth, love, and healing? Guess I missed out.
The goal was to protect me from any more pain.
Well before I got interested in photography, I always found myself drawn to empty spaces, to those quiet places. The ones most enticing are those found against the loudest of backdrops. They pull me in with their temptations of possibilities and of unheard and overlooked stories. It’s in the stillness which listening is best done.
In the last few years, the written word has gained increasing importance in how we connect and communicate with people. As we rely on writing over speaking because we all have come to hate phone calls because… reasons. And because we also don’t live in a TV world where friends decide to meet up to chat about the most mundane and vital of topics, we are left with text messages, instant messaging, emails, etc. The problem is we can be terrible at saying what we mean.
Header image: visual approximation of my feelings in January 2018.
When our daily routines are interrupted, we begin to notice all the things we take for granted. Physical ailments, in particular, remind us that we are not impervious and have limitations. This past month, I’ve been dealing with (a very manageable and mostly pain-free) tooth problem. As soon as the problem surfaced and before I could make it into the dentist for a diagnosis and plan, I took preventative measures in my diet to avoid foods that are crunchy, chewy, sticky or fun in any way. I also only ate on the other side of my mouth. While I’ve slowly regained enough confidence to eat more normally, the first few weeks were taken with tender bites of softer food and filled with non-trivial amounts of yogurt and soup.