January 6, 2018
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured” -Kurt Vonnegut
2017 was a blow to the mid-section. Everything hurt and bled and ached. I found myself losing faith in my ability to take care of my own well-being emotionally. In December of 2016, I was beaming with excitement towards the life that was being offered to me; I had a bachelor’s degree and an open road to run on, how could I be anything but hopeful?
Entering into a long-term sub position and then immediately moving (alone) to the most Southern part of Thailand for 5 months came with a set of difficulties I was utterly unprepared for. I suppose it’s true we cannot possibly know how to fight our demons until we meet them, but I was deeply unaware of how persistent and terrifying battle is when you’re isolated and broken-hearted.
In short, I found beauty and grace in the midst of my anguish. I read books that saved my life. I met humans who loved me effortlessly and unquestionably; humans who made me wonder about the impact of Love and where we each truly learn the art from. I learned that Love is an art, in fact, and it must be honed and taught and reciprocated; well and wholeheartedly. Over and over again.
I ran my first half marathon in Phuket right before my 23 birthday (!!). I participated in my FAVORITE Thai yoga class on a daily basis even though I could speak little to no Thai. I learned how to drive a semi-automatic motorbike up the entire country of Vietnam. I learned how to pee anywhere and into anything. I learned to not be out late at night in Malaysia alone and I devoured the most delicious fried coconut balls in Penang.
I went from one boy to the next, hoping to soothe or ease some of the pain; I learned (quite quickly) that Glennon Doyle Melton is correct when she writes about our inclination to pass our pain to one another like a hot potato, but how this act doesn’t result in healing. I learned to rest and sit. To cry. To mourn. To look at the mess I had chosen for the past year and to then walk barefoot, step by step, through the darkness of loneliness and rage.
I learned how to say no to things not meant for me. Even if they sound good. Even if they are aesthetically pleasing. Even if they feel alright half of the time. I learned to lean into my instincts and my gut more. I learned that no was an answer in and of itself. I learned how well I knew myself and yet how far I still have left to go. I learned how to prioritize the safety of my overall well-being. I learned how to be my own sort of peace. How to bring my head and my heart back to equilibrium. I became. I’m becoming, yes, but in 2017 I became.
I’m teaching ESL now at Boise High and to say I’m content and fulfilled would be an outright lie. My position is a filler job and my day consists of tutoring more than anything. However (and by God there’s always a however), I’ve met more humans who Love me well and without condition or guarantees; someone in the Universe knows that’s the only road I need to walk down if these iced over parts of me are ever to thaw.
There is so much more. There’s always so much more than the page can possibly entail, but most importantly: I’m here. I’m here with people and Love and there are more mornings than not when I’m able to wake up and make my coffee and breathe in until my breath goes as deep as my belly will allow and I’m grateful. I am grateful.
I’ve been writing the question How do you human in this world? over and over again in my journals and on my keyboard and the end of 2017 breathed back: stand still for long enough. Hold your breath for long enough. Look at someone in the eyes for just long enough. That is how you human in the world, child.
You pay attention to the good. And then you add to it.