Some hours/days/weeks are just for getting though. For surviving, making to the end, and saying “I did what I could, and I might not be happy, but I’m alive, and willing to keep going.”
That’s how this week felt for me. Unrelated to many of my 2018 goals, I’ve been stressed. There are changes happening, and I do not like change. I cling to what I know, and I don’t like to say goodbye, and I have felt… stuck.
Sylvia Plath wrote that ever-applicable quote in The Bell Jar, where Ester compares making life decisions to choosing figs on a tree. I’ll put it here, as she phrases it better than I can:
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
Even out of the original Bell Jar context, I think the quote resonates with anyone who has ever felt unsure of what to do next in their life.
I still come up short when people ask “Where do you see yourself going?” or “What’s next for you? What do you want to do?” I’m 24 and I have no idea – no more clarity than I did when I graduated college two years ago. And that makes me nervous, because I’m 24 now, but in 5 months, I’ll be 25, and then in 5 years I’ll be 30, and then what? I don’t think age should harbor any limit on your choices, on your ability to change your direction in life – theoretically. Directly applying that concept to my own life is more difficult. Who am I, without direction, or purpose? Who am I, if not a filmmaker, a coordinator, a writer, and artist? Who am I, if those aren’t what I want to be?
I’m just rambling now. I presently feel unsure about a lot in my life. Change leads to anxiety, overthinking, and self-deprecation. I’m doing just fine.
I’ve been experimenting more with sourdough! I made a Maple Walnut cake-type bread with my discard starter, and am currently trying to grow my fed starter into something I can make a standard loaf with. A more difficult task than it might sound, because I have to “feed” it (add more flour and water) every few hours, document it’s growth, and wait until it’s significantly aerated before I can use it in a recipe. Nevertheless, there is solace in the knowledge that in the end, this is all just flour and water – life and baking will go on, despite my mistakes.
In other news – I went on a hike! Somewhat unexpectedly. Every now and then, I run at the Rose Bowl. There’s a wide, moderately trafficked asphalt 5k loop, and it’s a nice location to gauge how my running is progressing / improving. I’ve known for a while that a dirt hiking trail runs somewhat parallel to the asphalt loop, but had never before tried to run on it.
Running it was… a task! I discovered I have very little vertical endurance. I lasted about 4 minutes uphill until I had to turn around and take a more even course. Ha! I’m not surprised or disappointed by this – I haven’t done any trail training, haven’t experimented AT ALL with sustained running uphill.
Since it was my first time on this trail, I allowed myself to run in spurts, periodically taking breaks to walk, take in the scenery, and snap a few pictures. I’m so accustomed to dried out, dessert terrains in California. That – or concrete, industrialized streets lined with warehouses. It was surprising and delightful to find some natural greenery so close to where I live.
And now – I sit in a small coffee shop in Seal Beach. A live band just started playing – five older men, with an assortment of acoustic instruments – a guitar; a mandolin; a harmonica; a small, leather bound drum.
Maybe I don’t have to find my worth in my work, in my career. I have no idea what these guys do day-to-day, in their Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 jobs. But they’re here now, playing together, and they seem happy, for no other reason than this.
This has been a post.