fuzzy daydreams

Yesterday I sat in front of my computer and stared at the screen, hoping, deeply, for some sort of spontaneous combustion. In that moment I needed to have a revelation about what I want to do with my life. I’ve always struggled with defining some sort of “set path” or “life plan” and god forbid–some kind of passion. I thought about my current life and other peoples’ lives and then I thought about dinner and my soul-searching came to an end.

It always comes to an end. I can’t remember the last time I finished something I started. I mean really finish. And I guess I also mean really start. Today, for example, I decided that I’m actually going to put some effort into freelance writing. I signed up for a blog that gives useful tips on sending queries to magazines. I got excited. Queries! Ah, yes, queries! I hadn’t known about that before, and now, I do. A start.

And here I am, popping my second bag of popcorn, telling my cat to stop pawing her food out of her bowl, and praying for my wine bottle to auto refill. I assume that I can freelance tomorrow. Right? “Freelancing” isn’t going anywhere. I lick the salt off of my fingers. What even is freelancing? I stare down my cat. Do I want to do that? I finish my wine. Eh, maybe not.

People ask me what my dream job is. If you could do anything…and I just stare blankly at them. Guess what? My dream job is not having a job. Does that make me lazy? Impractical? Yes! Yes, it does. But I’m not going to fake some kind of dream work. I imagine that that would be far worse than not wanting to work at all.

Ok so yeah: I would like to live on a beach or on a mountain and I guess I’d like to brew my own beer and I’d definitely like to write about all of that and take breaks to pet my dog and cat and do some yoga and hang out with people I like and read loads of books and then write some more. That’s my dream job.

You can see why I’m having trouble with your question. My answer isn’t a job. It’s just a dream.

I think, and talk, and write about balance. There’s nothing revolutionary about discovering that you need to balance your life. But how do you balance your aspirations? And really, how do you balance really fuzzy aspirations? I think I know some things I’d like to do. But how do I do them? How do I really know? There’s always the most important factor for anyone in an emotionally unstable, fiscally stable life: can I afford to make a change?

I would love to teach mountaintop yoga but who the hell’s gonna fund that?

I’m going to make a sweeping generalization and say that our society is so intent on the urgency of now, now, now, that we forget to pause and see what now could even be. What’s the rush? For someone with general anxiety about…everything, this is hard for me to ask myself. Because I want to say: well the rush is today! I have to do this and this and get to this and do that and figure it all out and be happy of course. And before I know it I’m rushing to bed and lying awake at midnight wondering if I should be doing something else. I wake up wondering if I’ve woken up into my passionate life yet.

The rushing, I’ve decided, right now, right this instant–is exhausting. So here’s another start: for now, I’m going to tell myself that fuzzy daydreams are okay.

I do not doubt my ability to fling myself into something new, raw, and powerful. I know I can do that. No one wants to get stuck in a life that is just okay. But, shit, what if just okay is just that–okay? It’s okay. That’s not bad at all.

We strive to be greater and do bigger because, well, that’s what we’ve always been taught to do. We’re also human. We have desires and we have resources and a lot of times these things come together and we change our lives. And…we’re also human. We question ourselves and we get comfortable where we are (even if it’s not where we want to be) and we really, really don’t know. We don’t know anything.

I have a full time job and an apartment and food and a car. If you asked me, five years ago, what I wanted in my post-college life, I would have gotten real doe-eyed and said “just to be happy.”

That’s all I’ve ever wanted. In my moments of clarity (when I’m not daydreaming or bitching or trying to combust into something greater than myself), I see that I have the luxury of seeking more happiness because I have a solid foundation. If I were dead broke–not “can’t afford happy hour” broke, but more like “can’t afford rent” broke, then I don’t think that I’d ever dream about mountaintop yoga. I would just try to get by. I would be happy with a room to rent, and I’d figure the rest out.

I know the happiest night of my adult life. I was moving into my house my last year of college and on that first night I put together a metal loft bed all by myself. I drank a three dollar bottle of Walmart wine and I screwed the bed together with my fingers. It took me hours and hours. I couldn’t stop. I set down the empty bottle and I looked up at the shaky metal contraption and I was content.

I could analyze the hows and whys of that deeply joyous sensation, and why I felt it on that particular night. But I don’t think I need to. Sometimes, when I’m doing something I love (writing, reading, drinking wine–cheap wine’s clearly fine too), I feel that sensation again. I am happy. We are all capable of changing our lives, and when we feel the strong urge to push in a new direction, we should cling to it, and run with it, and go bravely into the future.

Until then, though, we can’t forget to live our lives. We must remember that we can be happy in a tiny bedroom on a hazy night in the peak of our uncertain selves.

If fuzzy daydreams make you happy, why rush towards anything else?


just a wednesday thing

I wrote one thousand words about feeling alone. I started with: “the difference between being alone and being lonely is whether or not you have a choice in the matter.” Sentences of loneliness hummed quietly along the page. I was waiting for them to crescendo into some sort of realization. I was waiting to conclude on a note far happier than the one I found in the paragraphs’ repetitions: I am alone alone alone. I waited and waited until I didn’t wait anymore. That was a week ago.

I returned a few times, thinking that I could write that final paragraph. I wrote this: “I feel it leaving me now.” But that wasn’t true, so I deleted it. Again, a few sentences later I typed out: “(I feel it leaving me now.)” I tried, in the desperate deliberation of punched keystrokes, to make this true. It isn’t true. I do not feel the loneliness leaving me now. It sits with me, hangs over me, it pushes firmly into my chest. Ah! So there you are again.

We can try to will away our sadnesses. We can close our eyes tight and ball up our fists and hold our breaths until we’re sure that the next exhale will rid us of what’s been hurting us so badly. Exhale… still sad.

When my sister and I were young—maybe 7 or 8, we tried to swim across a small channel. Our best friend, two years younger and much braver (still, she is) joined us in the venture. From the beach where we waded with our parents we decided to swim the 50 yards to “the island.” We waded deeper and deeper. Our mothers called us back. We swam up to them, arguing our case. My friend’s mother said, “But girls, you cannot fight the current. It doesn’t work.”

Eventually, when we were older, we swam across that channel. It wasn’t easy. It may even have been my first taste of pure physical exhaustion. There’s something wonderful there, something to explore. Youth and joy and shit. But those moments have faded for me. I acknowledge them as something that has passed. The words of my mother’s friend, though, stay. I need them every day. They tell me to open my eyes, drop my shoulders, and inhale my loneliness. (Still sad).

We work hard to love ourselves. We exercise and eat right and plan social gatherings and get dogs and cats and blog and meditate. We consistently live the run-on sentences that I write. I work so hard to be okay. Really, I do. I try every minute of every day to love myself unconditionally. In this outpouring of love I still fail to love myself wholly. I love the good things that I am and that I do. I reject the bad parts. I leave them out of my loving, and in turn, they stay. Stubbornly I feel them coursing through my veins. They are currents. And for some reason I thought I could fight them.

I told someone the other day: “I feel like I’m on the edge of something.” That’s true. I do feel that way. For hours after I said this I felt a deep sinking in my stomach (this is where loneliness lives, in case you didn’t know). I felt as if I’d said something insincere and I couldn’t figure out why. I thought back on the past year, and even the years before that. The sinking was the realization that I’ve always felt this way. I’ve always been on the edge, waiting to topple into something new (implied: something better). I cried into my pillow, feeling stuck.

After a few days of heaviness, I began to feel light again. Different things trigger the joy that overshadows my doubt. It may have been a song or my cat batting at my dog or a really decent black bean burger. I realized: that feeling of “being on the edge” is my hope. It courses through me as powerfully as my loneliness. They are my currents. I’m not sure if one can exist without the other. Rather than sinking into the sadness of my fated life (forever lonely, hopefully on the brink), I think I can live in the opposing forces of myself.

So this, all of this, is my penultimate paragraph. I cannot conclude who and how and why I am.

I don’t know why I’m lonely. No, that’s not true. I do know why (need more friends, need career direction, need my dog to stop barking at strangers). I just think the little parts of life, the parts that a lot of people can see and forget, stay with me. I think I may feel small hurts greater than other people. I think that I’m a fatalist. I know that I assume the worst and that I remain cautious even when I see that the best is happening. Sometimes I choke on my loneliness. It catches my breath and I feel it aching in my bones and I really don’t know if I’ll be okay. I cannot conclude that. That still happens. I’m always trying to make it better. I make promises to myself: it will end it will end. And it does. Still, I wish it wouldn’t happen in the first place.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever fall over the edge. I know that my life changes every day. Physically, we try to take flight. New city! New job! New me! I’ve gone back and forth on the benefits of external changes. Everyone says you need to start with yourself, but I think they’ve got a different kind of assumption about toppling over the edge. They don’t tell you what kind of changes are required for a life lived forever on the tightrope.

A few weeks ago I came into class and my yoga teacher asked me why I was frowning. I shrugged and told her that I’d been grumpy all day. She reached out, grabbed my arm and nodded: “You know, everyone I’ve talked to today has said that. I sort of feel it too. Must just be a Wednesday thing.”

And it is. It’s just a Wednesday thing. I am lonely. I am hopeful. I bet a lot of other people are these things too. Maybe they stopped fighting their currents long ago. Maybe they’ll never stop fighting. Maybe if we all grabbed each other’s arms more often we could at least live in our currents together.

Last week I wrote 1000 words about being lonely. I cried through a few sentences. My dog looked over and growled at me. She is, undoubtedly, my best friend. I think, somewhere deep in that walk-eat-sleep-love brain, she wants me to be as happy as she is. I can be lonely, but I at least owe it to my dog to be lonely in an upright position. I decided to return to the edge, where I am now, teetering and tottering in no particular direction.

Your emotional life meets your practical life and you make a decision. It’s usually: today I am getting out of bed. You work from there. I get out of bed every day. It doesn’t make me less lonely, but it makes me hope. Sometimes I hope so hard that I start to think that I fell over the edge long ago. Perhaps it was when I was 7, standing and staying in knee deep water. Maybe I’ve always been my better self.

Maybe I never had to wait at all.