It’s September, which makes me want to listen to Bob Dylan and buy sweaters. The air outside is begging for me to put on a cloak and go off in search of adventure with a party of elves, dwarfs, and Dunedain. Because obviously I am a hobbit in this particular metaphor.
I don’t know what it is about this month, but it’s pure magic. I’m going to do my best to not talk about Pumpkin Spice Lattes but to keep the focus on my habit of worrying over whether I’ve accomplished anything with my life. I’ve always been a goal setter, a list maker, and a dreamer. If you were to dig through my journals (God help you) you’d find page after page of lofty plans and well-intentioned new beginnings.
I remember making a “25 before 25” list when I was naught but an angsty little teenager, spending the summer at my Grandparents house, unaware of how wonderful it was to wake in the morning without any bills to pay. I listened to “Don’t Cry Out Loud” by Melissa Manchester a lot that summer, and made the previously mentioned list, which I quickly forgot about. I rediscovered it a couple years ago while sorting through boxes in the midst of a move and was surprised to see I’d crossed a few things off the list:
I own a rhodesian ridgeback, I’ve backpacked across a few continents, I’ve been on an African safari, I’ve owned a land rover, road tripped across the states, climbed a volcano, been to NYC, etc. etc.
It was only after finding that list that I realized I’d actually done a few interesting things with the weird adulthood that follows your teen years. What’s that saying? “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” I know this all too well.
People often talk about 30 Before 30 lists, but I’m not sure I can wrap my mind around viewing that age as a milestone. I already feel as though my soul has existed on this earth in one way or another for a very long time. I don’t have the wrinkles to match the weariness I sometimes feel, though I am sure they will soon catch up.
Those worries about wasting my life seem to be less frequent than they used to be. I’m not sure if this is apathy or if I’m just happy with how things are right now. For so long, a core part of my identity seemed to be bound up in an aching lack of fulfillment and a pulsing desire for more. Am I less alive by virtue of being content? I am not sure.
But the leaves are changing and the wind is causing me to wrap my arms around myself. I drove with the windows rolled down earlier and had that first pang of longing for slippers to slide my feet into. It makes me want to go on a quest.
I was talking to a coworker over the weekend about an art exhibit she’d seen in 1986. I did that super obnoxious thing that youngish people do and interjected with “Oh, that was the year I was born!”
She was still for a moment, thinking it over.
“Wow,” she said. “I was already in my first marriage by that point. And it was to a man.”
She looked at her partner and they both laughed.
“I lived an entire other lifetime before you were even born,” she said.
It makes me wonder how many lives I will live. There are still a few blank pages in my passport and my feet long to trip and tiptoe and stomp through all sorts of new places and experiences.
I can’t help thinking there are big things on the horizon, which fills me with equal parts anxiety and thrill. Adventures are always like that. I’ve never done anything exciting without moving past that moment of doubt where I question every aspect of my decision. I’ve never once arrived at the airport without spending the entire morning thinking “but it would be so much easier to just stay home.”
September is a month for not staying home. I say we all have adventures and do the things we always said we’d eventually get to. Let’s see what happens when we make plans and write bad poetry, or get too much or too little sleep, then blurt out things we shouldn’t say, and befriend people that don’t make sense.
I want to stand on my desk, shout “Oh Captain, my Captain!” then run wildly through the streets, kicking dead leaves and blowing on my fingers to keep them warm. I want to take deep breaths of air that smells like hope, to look at something enticing and frightening and finally say “yes.”
Do you ever worry that you are not living the way you always planned? What adventures do you see on the horizon? How does Autumn make you feel?
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