Several years ago (9, that is) I went to school for creative writing. One of the biggest things I learned was how to paint concrete pictures. Don’t just say “I’m happy”, show how you feel happy.
When I’m content, or happy, or even sad or stressed, I occupy my time with thinking about ways I can paint that feeling for you in concrete words.
Right now I’m trying to find the words to describe the feeling that I am going to create the life I want. I spent a few weeks in Florida, mostly riding my bike and going to yoga with my grandmother. She listened to me for hours on end over lukewarm, mediocre coffee as I described my dream life, my fears, my struggles the past year. Then she would tell me stories about her travels around the world, things she’s learned, people she’s know over her 86 years.
Of all the things 2016 gave to me, the best were the memories I created getting to know my grandmother and sending so much time with her. We wound up in a competition to see who could pay for the other’s coffee, lunch, or yoga first, escalating to one time when we both arrived to yoga half an hour early to pay for the other.
When I wasn’t trying to beat her at paying for coffee or yoga, I was spending time on the bike alone, thinking of concrete descriptions of the feelings I have.
- The first bite of birthday cake on your favorite birthday
- The kind of breathing you do right before you fall asleep
- The way a shower feels after a long ride, with a cold beer wedged in between the shampoo and conditioner (if you are the kind of person who had both), oh my god that cold beer after a long ride
- Sliding into clean sheets with freshly shaved legs
- The first few drops of a storm that’s been brewing for hours and building tension until you almost couldn’t take it anymore
- A quiet morning walk before the neighborhood is awake, the dog is tugging on his leash and fresh coffee is slipping over the edges of a clean, white mug
- Jumping into a perfectly still lake, cold water rushing up your body as you slide in, shocking every nerve from your toes to your head
2016 dished out a lot of lessons. The biggest one I want to take with me is that life is only as good as the people you allow to be in it. 2016 was a year of splitting open my flesh with my bare hands and digging out the rot until all that was left was a blank slate. I learned there are people who want to be in my life, but I have to let them. And once they are there, in my life, my life is so much better.
So, 2017. Here we are. Doing it.