The last year has been rough. For so many people. I’ve been thinking about fatigue lately, along with what rejuvenates us. I’m no longer in the States, but the knowledge of what exists there right now, along with my own valid fears has been crushing in many ways.
Last week I felt something very akin to desperation to get out of the city. I needed to be away from people, away from Facebook, away from Twitter, away from the internet. So yesterday I got up at 07.45, hopped a subway, then a train, then a ferry, then a bus, and took myself to the west coast of Scotland. My plan was to hike up Strone Hill and stand at the top and stare out over the islands and sea lochs. It took about three hours to get there, and when I did, the promised rain for the day wasn’t happening, the sun was peeking through the clouds and casting gorgeous golden rays on Holy Loch, and I kept stopping every few yards to look at something lovely–a snowdrop patch here, some blooming heather there, a gorgeous stone arch made from white quartz just beyond.
By the time I made my way to the trail head, it was 11.30 and…the trail I wanted was closed due to some diseased larches, expected to reopen next month. It had taken me three hours to get there, which isn’t a small amount of time to reach a place.
I was a bit disappointed–I’d really, sincerely looked forward to that particular hike. But instead, I went down by the shore of the loch, sat by the waves, and had a nice lunch in the sunlight. I ended up finding another hike of similar strenuousness at the village’s arboretum.
And the day was perfect. It just was. It was a lovely, gorgeous day with little bits of rain and lots of sunlight on moss. I did my now-daily yoga on the side of a hill with my hands on the squishy damp ground and it was exultant. I got to sit by the waves and walk among the trees and enjoy fresh air, and that was all priceless.
When I got home, Monsieur had a date (we are ethically non-monogamous, remember?), so I took a bath and curled up with a book (How to Be Both, by Ali Smith if you’re wondering), and in it was a surprising little scene that perfectly mirrored a conversation I’d had with someone last week. It was on a very random topic and it made me happy. I spent some time reading in the bath and also thinking about synchronicity, less in a “I saw Peter Pan in the newspaper and therefore am supposed to marry Peter” way and more in a “these two things have no discernible causal relationship but fit together nicely and cause warm fuzzies” way. Which it did. Cause warm fuzzies.
Do those things Mean Something? For me, things mean what we need them to mean. We could be wrong, I mean…I spent a wee while convinced I was going to marry someone because God said so (yay purity culture! EL OH EL). Or we could be content in whatever meaningful things we see in this chaotic world around us and use it to build meaningful connections with others.
This year has sucked enough. I don’t want to be an emotional nihilist.
To paraphrase a quote from Angel, if nothing matters, then all that matters is what we make matter. The answer might not be at the bottom of your coffee cup, but if the same line from a poem pops up twice in a week and it makes you feel validated as a person? It’s not worthless. Have a rich inner life. Tell yourself stories. Exist in a million worlds at once. Take the courage it gives you and fall in love. Give kindness where it’s unexpected. Smile at a stranger for no reason. Stand up for someone in the face of injustice because a story moved you to. Find solace where you can. Be someone’s solace when they can’t. Fuck emotional libertarianism. Take care of others and take care of yourself. Learn to say no and learn to say yes and learn that it’s okay to not have an answer yet. Have a favourite car park or fire hydrant or street lamp. Find meaning in a particularly round stone. Find love in the moss on a tree. Find strength in a stranger’s stride. Wonder about what never happened. Wonder what could happen next. Wonder what’s happening right now.
Find the strength to do the big things by letting the little things revive you. Big things are made of little things.
I spent most of the last four years thinking this book I wrote and adored wasn’t going to make it into your hands. Now it will in July–in other small coincidence newses, yesterday was lovely because I also got the cover for this book. I can’t wait to share it with you. <3