Going into 2016, I feel kind of sort of like a mess...or as we say here in the South, a 'hot mess,' but that's okay. The end of 2015 was fraught with trials and complications of unprecedented proportions. I operated a lot on auto-pilot. Life as I knew it was buffering, frozen in place, and I was going through the motions as I waited for it to pick back up and continue on as normal.
It was like sleepwalking. For months. But somewhere, in the midst of what seemed to be never-ending chaos, I found something. Something I had lost.
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
We can lose a lot in our never-ending quest for things to remain normal, primarily because normal is an illusion. It is also a habit, and habits are addictive. In the midst of all the trials brought on by the end of 2015, I found myself over and over just wishing things were 'back to normal.'
“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”
― Henry Adams,
― Henry Adams,
What I discovered as I picked up the pieces of my life was lost long before 2015. It was lost when I tried to make a doomed-from-the-start love affair work by molding myself into what I thought someone else wanted. It was lost when I tried to find happiness in things as they were instead of changing what I knew in my heart I didn't enjoy. It was lost when I tried too hard to do too much that, while good and worthy, wasn't what I authentically wanted to be doing with my time.
Somewhere, in the midst of all the rubble I sorted through, and all the renovations I watched unfold, and all the subsequent scares I endured, I snapped out of what American journalist, novelist, essayist, editor and educator Peter Hamill refers to in his introduction Janet Beller's Street People, one of my favorite photojournalism books, as 'the amnesia of middle age."
And I remembered. I remembered who I am, which is a very different person from who someone else wanted me to be. I remembered striving to change things instead of just trying to be happy with them the way they were. I remembered what I authentically want to do with this one and only life.
And so, as 2016 quietly rolled in, I curled up in bed and read, while fireworks illuminated the skies all around me. Because the book I had was really amazing, and reading was what I wanted to be doing in that moment.
Living fully can look different ways for different people, but I don't believe it looks like habits that lull us into a false sense of security, or clinging to that sense of security because it's normal. And I certainly don't believe living fully can take place if one is inauthentically living.
I do, however, believe in the amnesia of middle age, and will be careful not to slip into it again! The wake up call is a bit much! :-)
Happy 2016 to you and yours from the boy and I!