An unfinished thought

It is December 26th and I’m sitting outside on a large porch in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is brilliantly sunny and breezy, but mild. I’m in the best of company (thanks to Mavis, my four-legged friend) and the best of spirits. Somehow even the fact that I’m unemployed can’t get me down right now. I am too fortunate. Too terribly blessed.

It has been a bizarre and incredible year. Had someone told me ten months ago that I would be sitting here, at this moment, looking back on such experiences, I likely would have shaken my head. It was an array of factors that led me to leave this place that I have, for years, called home and it was a whole different set that brought me back here, for this brief moment, to yet again redefine my existence as I wait to take off on yet another adventure (this time with a bit of company).

I have never worked so hard as I did this past year and it’s likely I have never learned so much. I learned about plants and what it takes to feed communities. I learned about healing, distance and love. I learned about friendships and what it truly takes to maintain them. About practice, intention, and limitations. I also learned that The Universe will give and give, but that it also sometimes has to take away.

I struggle with change, even as I bring it upon myself in these necessary periods of transition. I shapeshift, moving from place to place, pick myself up and sometimes slap myself across the face- just a reminder to wake up and notice what is right in front of me. I am a fortunate one and I try to remind myself of that, even though I sometimes find myself failing to find gratitude.

This path that I’m following moves all about. It’s nonsensical in a way, taking me this way and that. I run into barriers, dig myself into holes. I sometimes find myself back in a place that is familiar, only something subtle has shifted. If I’m lucky, I’ll take note. I don’t know why I pursued graduate work in clinical psychology, only to leave the field only to work, well, in a field. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how strange it may seem that I am knowingly, willingly, leaving an exceptional community and a family I adore for an unknown place. I am ready to gamble this. I have to.

An old friend of mine, in Chicago, once reminded me that no matter who I leave or what place I choose to move from, I can always go back. Surely, some of the faces will be different, the landscape will likely change. One cannot leave a place and expect to find it the same upon return, but I know this. Even as it pains me to leave the ones I love and to start again from scratch, it always seems worth it. After all, to never leave is to never know.

A new space

I am walking, heavy boot step after heavy boot step. It feels like I’ve been walking for days, though it could be hours or merely minutes. I’m not keeping track, so who’s to say.

I’ve walked this path before and it was just as happenstance. A turn right here, a momentary back track, and here I am, tracing my way along an imaginary line, trying to find a subtle knot in the cord that will tell me that I’ve found my way.

Winter is approaching here, with patches of white already spotting the ground. One might get confused this time of year, mistake chilled fingers and freezing wind for the passing of fall, but it’s not so. Outside, life remains. Lucky leaves cling to a few trees and frost hardy porch plants show their colors while they still can, soaking up the fleeting sunlight and preparing themselves for what is to come (sudden death, or something of the same).

I am walking with purpose toward no particular place. I’m walking to clear my mind, to quiet my thoughts. I am walking and breathing and occasionally chanting to myself. None of these things work, so I continue on. I observe my fingers rubbing anxiously at the torn skin on my thumbs. This is my nervous habit. It’s my fidget, my tick. Others do this too (or so I’m told). It’s a habit that satiates some urge that swells up within me, perhaps the urge to scream or to run. In this moment, it soothes just enough. I am able to keep pace, to let my mind wander and then come back to its monotonous stirrings. I wonder if I touch my own skin to remind myself that my body is still here.

After days of what felt like endless activity, I embody the thoughts I’ve pushed to the corners of my brain. I swell with ideas unrealized, with feelings suppressed and underemphasized. I need this moment to just listen. To hear the sound of my own tromping on a rain soaked path, the sound of small twigs breaking and the weight of the sinking sun at the end of the day. The darkness envelops me and my eyes adjust, looking at nothing at everything all at once. I glance into houses through well-lit windows, catching glimpses of peoples’ belongings and their simple facts of life. I imagine for a moment having my own home (with all hope, in the not-so-distant future), and my own life on display. I imagine my own window, serving as a portal, welcoming wanderers, for just a moment, into my life.

Suddenly, I am no longer walking. My mind has begun to quiet and though my right hand still can’t find peace, I have stumbled into a new space. I’ve somehow connected the dots that are scattered amongst my thoughts. This is a new space. This is a new portal. This is a quiet.