Here’s a little update of what I’ve been up to recently. Much love to you all!
June came with that same sweetness it always has, making me feel soft-hearted and social and psyched to go rock climbing. I headed for the most joyful place I know—Wyoming in the summertime. Thankfully all of my best friends were on their way there too.
I woke up most mornings in Wyoming with an awareness of the fact that I had never felt so open hearted in my life. I’d wake up slow after a night of bright dreams, open the doors to my Subaru, look up at the canyon walls and hear my friends laughing as they made coffee. I felt like I had finally arrived somewhere I’d been trying to get to for years, somewhere I’d been homesick for. I chalked it up to being around my good friends, rock climbing, and not having a boyfriend.
I came into summer thinking I would probably be okay if I never loved anyone again, not in that way at least. It wasn’t a sad thought, it was comforting. In fact I thought that maybe I would even be happier that way, that my friends and family would be enough, more than enough, that maybe I just wasn’t meant for partnered life, that I could happily be that cool, older single woman at dinner parties who wears lots of turquoise jewelry and drinks gin and tonics and thinks about buying property in Costa Rica.
And then, as the story usually goes, I fell in love.
July always lights everything on fire, but its burning felt different this year than most. It was a slow burn, it wasn’t out to wreck or ravage or kill. Instead it smoldered, giving heat and unearthing something that had been there for a very long time.
August was spent in the high Sierra, climbing her mountains and saying wow a lot. I spent my days covering lots of ground, going fast and light, staying as close to the sky as I could get. All I wanted to do was climb the high peaks, fast, as if her summits contained a secret that I needed to know.
What I found in that golden granite was simple–if you’re lucky enough to find some small pocket joy in this life, stay there. Joy doesn’t come into our lives in an all-encompassing way, it comes in these little slivers that hang in front of us. We have to reach out and claim it, practice it. And this can be hard because real joy usually comes from things that society has diagnosed as useless or naive.
September came as if August didn’t even happen, it dropped the new season right in front of me with one big thud. At the height of summer, living a life of wandering and movement feels right, but as soon as fall hit I craved routine and direction. When I don’t have that during this season, as I rarely do, it sends me into this mode where I dig around frantically, smelling for anything that resembles stability.
But I know this feeling. These days I know how to be directionless, wandering, confused. I’d even call myself good at it, but that’s only because I know that those kind of feelings aren’t real. We’re always going somewhere, it’s just a matter of being able to see it.
September always means having one hand on wild life, the other on the keyboard of my laptop. I walk into cafes, freshly showered and mascara on my eyelashes, but with scabs on the backs of my hands. I can still smell the granite on my jeans. It’s a weird thing, to have been standing on top of 14 thousand foot peaks just a few weeks ago, and now I’m down here at sea level ordering americanos.
Letting go of my identity as a climber feels as if I just might die. My friends say I don’t have to let go of it, why would I, just keep climbing, just keep going—and some years I do just that. I have operated under the idea that it’s better to wander around aimlessly than to stay somewhere you don’t belong. But this season, I know I need some stillness. My body is screaming for it. My work needs it. It would feel unnatural to keep going.
More than being good at wandering, I’ve become good at asking myself what I need. Sometimes I get a clear answer: rest, water, laughter. Other times I can’t hear what it is that I’m craving, and in those moments all you can do is treat yourself like you would a baby that’s crying for reasons that you aren’t sure of.
It’s become hard to know what we need, because all day long we’re bombarded with things screaming at us: DO THIS! YOU WANT THIS! YOU NEED THIS OR ELSE YOU MIGHT JUST DIE! But sometimes those things aren’t what will actually feed us. We have to get good at knowing what’s bullshit, what’s “calling” us because we’re simply comfortable with it and used to it, and what our bodies and lives truly crave. It’s hard work.
No matter if the answer is clear or unclear, the act of giving yourself what you need is the important part, and the difficult part. Usually it will be inconvenient, untimely, the thing that you’re fighting against. Usually it is to take or practice one of your slivers of joy. Usually it is connection of some kind. Usually it is service, helping others. Usually, especially this time of year, it is rest.
For the last five years, I really haven’t stopped. Even in times of physical stillness, I was still moving in mind, I always had one eye on where I would go next. I lived in my car. I lived in the woods, the mountains, the deserts. I lived the endless summer. This is what fed me. This moved and processed things for me, it helped me become who I am. It made me a woman of knowing, a woman of trust. It made me brave, not in the sense that I’m never afraid, but it made me unafraid of being afraid.
But now, I’m psyched to settle down, even if only in mind.
I hope you have a great fall, thank you so much for reading.
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