I have been putting off writing for weeks. And somehow, I knew I was going to stay home on New Year’s Eve and do it. In my heart, it’s what I wanted to do anyway.
All of the other options were good ones. Dinner at a handful of top notch restaurants. Getting together with loved ones. John Oliver live at Chicago Theater. But my body decided, by way of contracting a cold, that alone in my apartment is where I would finish out 2015. Funny… getting sick is probably the only thing that was going to keep me home. Sometimes our bodies manifest what our hearts really want.
Despite the cold, I’m content quietly winding down the year with a bowl of poor man’s fried rice, season two of Broad City, and this blank document. Though, I’m fucking bummed to miss that John Oliver show. (Said in John Oliver accent.)
I need to write something. Anything. But I haven’t traveled or eaten anywhere noteworthy recently to write about. No compelling stories or recipe ideas have presented themselves. Summing up this year seems impossible. And quite honestly, I don’t want to relive/rehash most of it. I simply don’t have energy or desire to. But still. The page calls. I struggle to fill it with something.
So here it is. Something.
I started this writing project a year ago. I had no idea where I would go with it or what it would mean to me. I just knew I had to do it. Is it everything I want it to be? No. Not yet. Is it what I needed it to be? Absolutely. Am I satisfied with my progress? Mostly. Do I want it to continue to get better? Yes.
In a way, I’m ending the year much like I started it. Resting. Writing. Swinging back and forth. Although -- in very different places.
Then, it was on a beach in Tulum. A perfect 80 degree, sunny day. Turquoise blue waters crashing into white, seaweed-studded sand. A notebook, scribbled in with thoughts and ideas. Pumping my legs on a rope swing and dreaming of things so far away.
Now, it is beneath the glowing string lights in my bedroom. A hammock chair, a soft blanket, and a space heater recirculating warm temperate air. Chicago’s winter wind blowing through bare tree branches outside my window. Keyboard clicks. Thoughts. Ideas. Occasionally, my foot pushing off the corner of my bed to start the swaying again. Dreams… are quiet for the moment.
I’ve found that some of the most profound moments for growth and understanding happen when nothing happens. Like when I sat by myself on the edge of a ridge in Yosemite in June, looking out across the valley at Half Dome, looking for answers. And nothing came. In the stillness of the wild, touched by the wisdom of that place, I felt what I needed to feel. It was nothing and everything.
Like when I was wide awake on my business partner’s couch in the early hours of morning after a gun was pointed at my head in front of my apartment the night before. I stayed there on that couch for hours, trying to make sense of it. And nothing came. I felt what I needed to feel. It was nothing and everything.
Like when I stood on the deck overlooking the HBFC patio on one of the last days of fall. I stood and stared at the people below, the sun setting against the brick wall, the red leaves still holding on to the vines. I’ve done it dozens of times -- overlooked that patio -- but I remember that one specific day. It was a day of no consequence, where nothing happened. But I felt what I needed to feel. It was everything.
When I sat on a stoop alone in the rain, waiting for a table at a breakfast place in Asheville and listening to passersby chatter. When Nora sat across from me on a couch and told me she was going to duct tape the rest of hair off her head because it was falling out from chemo. When I watched wild geese swimming in a New Orleans park. When I actually cried in a yoga class because a song came over the speakers that took me out of that moment and into another. When I held two two-day-old baby goats in my arms, their soft ears brushing across my face, and the world shrank away. When I stood in a flooded restaurant basement and my heart emptied, and the next day sat on a bench at Jenny and Jesse’s wedding and my heart filled back up.
When I stayed home on New Year’s Eve with a cold and wrote. I felt what I needed to feel. Nothing and everything.
There are dozens of stories and experiences from the year. A few of them were amazing… some of them, downright gut wrenching awful. Most of them fall somewhere in the space between. But these, above, are the ones that crawl out from my memory as I write tonight. The times where nothing really happened. But in those spaces, I found what I needed. Compassion. Kindness. Focus.
And it is from this new place, that I work to improve.