You think that it will happen in an instant. The nanosecond the decision erupts into your brain and you pin yourself to it with all the determination and confidence you have that it will be done.
Last year, November 24 2014, I turned 30 and I decided that I was 0 years old now and was going to start over and make everything fresh and that I would be better. That 30 year old me would take 0 year old me by the hand and start caring for this infant self and nurture it and grow it and watch it blossom into the me I have always wanted to be. This would be my childhood do-over and I would reclaim the life I hadn’t had the chance to have. I would submerge myself in the experiences of freedom and laughter and play. This included yoga classes, rock climbing, mountain biking and road cycling, having a rocking new business that would just sky rocket me to financial security and the love of my life securely in my arms, the two of us and the whole world taking life by storm. I think maybe I have forgotten what being a baby is like. I suspect it has a lot more to do with not knowing what the fuck is going on and being covered in various kinds of stinky and sticky and a lot of strange people getting all up in your face to talk nonsense at you.
Life rarely unfolds according to our plans. Life unfolds the way life unfolds, in response to itself. And as beautiful a concept as starting over on my 30th birthday may be, and as lofty an idea I had it out to be… You just don’t get to by pass smelling like a diaper full of baby shit for a little longer than is comfortable until the adultiest of the adults shows up to clean you up and give you a cuddle.
Life is more circuitous, life flips and folds and churns and takes detours and there’s fucking MONTHS of road work so you have to detour like every god damned day through the same dilapidated neighbourhood, turning the music up a bit louder and pretending not to notice it because it’s all ok, everything else is going according to plan. Flat tire. Fuck off.
It is now mid August, 7 and a half months into the year and 30 year old me is looking around going uhhh… ok, this isn’t what I had planned for you 0 year old me. How you doing there? And 0 year old me just says gurgle. Smiles. Waggles fat fingers around and points, aimlessly, at the shitty diaper, the mess on the floor, the windows with the amazing view and things we have done. Forget about the fact that the money ran out for those rock climbing classes, it happened just in time for SPRING and CYCLING. Forget there never was money for yoga classes, you’ve been doing yoga on your own at least once a week pretty steady. That’s basically the same thing. And so what if you’re not rolling in the cash, that’s one of those “it’s coming” type deals. There’s some tidying up you have had to do – and have done – before that money really has somewhere to land anyway. Besides, you rode 300km in three days to the land of your most favourite place from childhood and raised some big money for an excellent cause. The detours are simply where you have to go to get to where you intend to go. You can pick the destination and that will determine the general direction but where your feet get planted are influenced by where the actual road goes. And besides, this shitty diaper was a clean diaper not too long ago so it’s not like I’m bathing in my own offal. In with the nourishment out with the waste, right?
It can be hard to not get bogged down with frustration and disappointment but I have learned something valuable. Frustration can be a sign of two things; either you need some help with something and need to ask, or you are trying to do something that pulls you off the path. It’s amazing how much more irritating and difficult and time consuming tasks are when they are not aligned with the direction you are going. It’s amazing how good it can feel to be dead broke for the forseeable future but with a clear(er) view of where you are going, watching your debt dwindle in significant ways. It’s amazing to witness how the struggle of the “rough patch” genuinely does bring lovers closer together. And it’s exquisite to look down at 0 year old me and suddenly realize I’m 7.5 months older and 30 and a half years wiser. It’s intoxicating to finally feel myself approaching the doorway to the whole rest of my life (for realsies!!) for the first time and actually be able to see what is on the other side waiting for me to glide through the gate.
The point is, all of these challenges and learning how to move through them gracefully and with ease is called Character Building. Some time ago I wrote in my journal about the person I want to be. One of the qualities she had mastered was being responsible for herself. Paying bills as soon as they arrive, setting aside money for the forseeable future (hello taxes) and also for the unplanned future (vacations? illness? New bike?), and allotting her time so she can comfortably earn money and create things and ride bikes and climb rocks and sit in nature and garden and be with her loved ones and go on adventures. The first steps to becoming this person have meant cleaning up the shitty diapers, making sure clean diapers are available at all hours, learning how to truly take good care of myself and accepting that, at least in the very beginning, it’s really grass roots. Grass roots like broke as broke gets, but able to manage and keep putting the other foot forward. Grass roots like eyes on the target, head up scanning the route ahead for those snags and roots and crap that could trip one who isn’t looking forward. Grass roots like one ear pressed up against the walls of my heart listening for those thin whispers that say so gently go here, go there, this way, that way, listen carefully to this person because what they say is important to how you choose to respond. Grass roots like taking 7.5months old me and saying ok, we are half way through year one and no one is dead yet, we are making that headway and all those other things we want and need are gonna have some place to land.
You can’t fledge the nest if there isn’t a nest yet. Are we there yet? No baby; we are just about to take off.