|Lyrics from Semisonic's 'Closing Time'|
About two and a half years ago, I stepped out of the stable and wonderful life I was living. I left a great job, hugged my family, bid farewell to a circle of fantastic friends in a great city, and stepped onto a plane to elsewhere.
While sitting on that airplane, not knowing what to expect and shocked at what I was doing I wrote this:
‘Beginnings are a funny thing.
I oftentimes wonder if they exist in and of themselves at all.
Perhaps they are notable only because they make us take notice of the existence of something. As humans we need ritual to mark events in our shared and infinitely long story.
I am divided in writing this for it is unethical and impure to claim this as a beginning, but in my imperfection I need to start somewhere.
So welcome to this beginning, a folded page corner in a vast and expansive book. A small makeshift indicator to mark one human experience in our deliciously large and unfolding novel.’
Today is February 8th, 2014. I reflect on the idea of ‘beginnings’ as I sit sipping coffee on a couch in Cape Town on an unremarkable, lazy Saturday afternoon.
I now believe that we mark beginnings to reflect something we’ve taken notice of, an arrival or change. Sometimes the arrival of a ‘beginning’ is irrefutable – a birth, a new relationship, a new job, stepping onto an airplane.
Other times beginnings don’t align with an external event and are so subtle we don’t even realize when they’ve crept up on us.
Getting onto that airplane was one of those irrefutable beginnings and I started this blog to mark it. I’ve recently somehow fallen out of the last chapter and stumbled into yet another new beginning without all the crisp fresh-paged symbolism of packing a suitcase and stepping onto an airplane.
This realization came about after a long period of practicing avoidance behaviour with blogging. The truth is that I don’t even want to look at my blog these days. I’ve been feeling guilty about not writing despite having ‘Write!’ perpetually on my to-do list.
Going deeper into the passing of months without posting and the associated stomach churning this elicits for me, I’ve come to realize that something between content and format and what is said and unsaid in this blog no longer feels authentic to me.
It was authentic then, but I have an acute sense that something, somehow and at some point shifted and is not reflected here.
When I take stock of the years since that life changing beginning, I feel both emptied and a brimming over. Things have shifted on so many levels - emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically.
Looking back on these recent years, I feel like I’ve had many operations - some major, some minor – and I’m just learning how to use my body again. Things feel different and are in different places, but everything is somehow functioning in a way that feels authentic to where I am right now.
I wish I could somehow capture this shift, the steps that somehow walked me from the beginning of that chapter to where I now stand. A whole bunch of experiences and half memories spill out in a jumbled and irrational manner…
*the metaphorical and literal stubbing of toes and scraping my knees * adding wrinkles around my eyes from a combination of sun and laughter * succeeding some, failing more * writing tons * deep, aching longing for home, family and friends * crying and dreaming a lot * struggling with apathy * learning bits of another language * learning policy and administration theory * completing the coursework for a masters degree * losing hope * heart break * spending time learning from men about how they live positively with HIV * witnessing country responses to the deaths of two leaders * fuel crises and hyperinflation * the swearing in of the first female president of Southern Africa * being completely embraced by the love of a family who didn’t know me a year ago * driving manual on the other side of the road * breakdowns on paved roads and in jungles * learning a new healing modality *connecting and loving SO, SO much * grieving the loss of a family member and friend from across the world * getting Malaria AND bilharzia * deeply questioning of the development industry * swimming in one of the worlds most beautiful lakes * celebrating a birthday where two oceans meet * having numerous magical serendipitous adventures * reshaping personal ideas of beauty * dancing barefoot on beaches and in cafes *
I could keep going for days, filling pages with a variety of experiences ranging from mundane to devastating to fantastic, but with what purpose? If I could somehow scramble all of the colours and textures and words and sounds and feelings of these experiences and drink them as a potion or don them as a shirt, maybe I could better embody what feels different. But in reality, they are already part of the cells that make up my body and absorbed into my experience of this life.
I’m excited by the opening of this new chapter despite not having any idea what it will hold or how to express it.
I’m not taking the blog down or changing the address. All former blog posts will remain as they are, chapters past, but what will come will be different somehow. I have nothing to promise as I have no clue what to expect.
Thanks for reading this incredibly self-indulgent post and helping me mark a new chapter.