I’m starting the year in yet another time zone. Never in a million years would I have predicted where the past year would have taken me. A year ago I was content with my life, if not my job. I had options and security, an imagination and dreams. The only thing to do was dial the lens to focus. Then Amtrak changed the picture in a quick fade out/fade in. Out of it’s doors poured more options, more potential, more fun, more friends, and more love.
I can’t remember making New Year’s resolutions that I stuck by. I think I resolved to get all my photos in albums about ten years in a row. They still sit in boxes (curse you Scrapbook for making me believe it was possible!). Yesterday we spoke of intentions instead of resolutions, and though it may be only a word, it seems a little less authoritarian, more friendly, more fluid.
And now the dilemma of what to do with my life? What cause to focus on? What country? Amid all this fun and new beginnings, I have the lurking voice telling me to get to work. My idea of having three months off has turned to six, and has the potential to be nine or maybe twelve. I’m finding I spend very little when I’m not working, and my savings is lasting longer than expected. I’m getting used to going to sleep and staying in bed until morning. I find I have less anxiety about the impending winter. I won’t need to go out at night. In a storm. Before my driveway is plowed. I’m getting soft. But I feel ten years younger.
I took my first overseas trip with my college roommate when we were nineteen. It was May between sophomore and junior year and we got it in our heads to take a bike trip in Ireland. We saved our pittance from side jobs and managed to buy airplane tickets and set off with our bikes packed in boxes and seventy dollars in our pockets for two weeks traveling. I think they were travelers checks. We had a tent and rain gear and figured we wouldn’t eat much, which we didn’t, until we stayed with some people who fed us. Terrible freeloaders, when I think back. We didn’t even know the people who took us in. One day, when we were cycling into the wind in the pouring rain, Sheilah yelled to me, “Why is it you’re not happy unless you are in pain?” (She had wanted to stop some miles back.) And I thought, “She’s right.” For reasons, then unclear to me, I never felt like I was being a good person unless I was suffering. And I got to take this cool trip, and that was a good thing, so I had to suffer for it. And no, it wasn’t just my Catholicism, though that probably reinforced it.
I spent a good deal of my adult life working on that. Trying to believe I deserved to be happy and have good things in my life. But childhood lessons die a long lingering death, and are sometimes immortal. And there is a difference between paying forward those free meals and paying for everything wrong in the world–––and making my family pay along with me.
So here I sit, again at dawn, contemplating all the goodness in my life and all the luck and blessings the past year bestowed on me. Feeling love and loved. Thinking about options and trying to adjust the lens so the distance is clear without messing up the foreground.