Do yourself a favor and google Janne Robinson. I recently stumbled across her on Instagram and instantly fell in love with almost everything about her: her photos, her writing, her friends. Sometimes this thing happens where I get intimidated by another writer. I wish I could sound like them, the way they paint such concrete images with their words. But then I remember that my writing style is unique to me, it’s my very own voice. I don’t want to sound like someone else, I want to sound like me.
This is a lesson I’m actually learning in real life right now as well. I’m living in a parking lot in Vinings, GA right now, selling trees. Four of us live in this little trailer, sharing a mini fridge, a sleeping space, chairs, our thoughts, our daily moods and routines. During the day we sell trees to want-to-be-wealthy folks. I’m sure some of them are truly wealthy, but most of them have the attitudes of people who are barely holding it together, who rely on other people being less superior to make them feel superior.
I’m living in a Kroger parking lot selling Christmas trees. I suppose I’m an easy target.
The other day a lady, who drove a shiny, one model year old Lexus, argued with me about how many yards fifteen feet was. I kept telling her we sell it by the yard,
“Go tell Andrew you’re buying five yards of cedar roping.”
“I’m buying fifteen feet.”
As in, I know better, you are wrong because I’m right.
Actually, lady, we’re both right. You’re right in your Lexus and your pointed ballet flats you delicately perch on the only dry patch of grass under the tent. I’m right in my income-dense job, which will allow me to spend this winter in South America peeling bananas, kayaking everyday, and chasing monkeys. You see fifteen feet; I’m looking at the same thing seeing five yards.
You look at life see the need to host parties you hope people will talk about every year, the need to climb a ladder no one can even see or measure, the need to work a job you don’t really care for most of your life so you can possibly take walking tours of Rome when you’re retired. I’m looking at the same thing, life, and seeing the need to travel to South America while I’m young and can haul my life on my back for weeks at a time, the need to teach other people how to find the same fulfillment in kayaking as I, the need to find myself and truly know myself, despite what it looks like.
And neither of these sets of needs is wrong. The beauty of life is finding out what makes us unique, and then being ok with it. We grow up learning to validate ourselves by comparing ourselves to someone else. The natural world confirms this: there can only be light if there is dark. We learn this in school: we can only be cool if someone isn’t cool. We can only be rich if someone isn’t. We can only be right if someone is wrong. But what if we went beyond all that? What if we are us because we are… us?
“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” –Rumi