Day #7:


 

Enya,Only Time

*~ Reconnect With Your Past ~*

Earlier today, I had an e-mail in my Inbox that unexpectedly made me smile. It was odd, because it wasn’t from an old friend, or even someone with whom I have a long and complicated history…but from someone I barely know, yet have barely known for a long time, and accordingly, feel a bit of a “from back in the day” connection with.

We all have a past. For some, it’s an experience that’s symbolic of the “good old days”, something we’re not quite ready to let go of, no matter how much time passes. For others (like me, I suppose), it’s a bit more chequered, full of regrets and memories we wouldn’t trade for the world, and everything in between. For still others, it’s something to be fondly revisited from time to time, but with a greater wisdom and understanding.

Yet, for almost all of us, the past has a way of pulling us back in. That’s why sites like Classmates.com are so popular, and at any given moment of any given day, someone somewhere in the world is using Facebook to find out whatever happened to that ex that was never quite forgotten. It’s also why there’s a TV channel and a radio station devoted to the popular hits of virtually any time period, allowing people a way to escape, and relive the “good old days”—even if they weren’t always that good.

As I get older, I have to admit, I find myself becoming nostalgic. While there are many aspects of my past I’d love to forget, and I’ve picked up and moved on from enough situations,places, jobs, and relationships to make “moving on” a personal specialty, I am really extraordinarily sentimental. I hold a very special place in my heart for the people, places, things, and moments that meant a great deal to me, and I have an extraordinary talent for forgetting the end of the story, how badly that good moment turned out when all was said and done. For the most part, unless I’m in a rather melancholy and self-defeatist mood, I try to treasure all the exceptional moments of my life, and push the rest of them from immediate consciousness. When I look at life that way, I realise I have far fewer regrets, and a much better appreciation of my life as a whole. I have always treasured the experience of life, even if most things don’t end up the way I planned, or might have wished. Even the bad ones, I’m not sure I’d trade for anything, because they’ve molded me into the person I am today.



Now Is The Only Time I Know, ~indiae

I enjoy revisiting the past now and then—-taking a look at the random things in my “memory box”, listening to the 90′s weekend on Atlanta’s Star 94, reading old letters from those I’ve fallen out of touch with— or who are no longer here, and even watching old television shows or movies I used to love, and meant a good deal to me. (see: “Frasier”) :)

Recently, I renewed an acquaintance with someone I’ve known for nearly a decade, though at a distance. I’ve made an effort to reconnect with people who were once a part of my life, and to find out what happened to others. No matter what anyone might tell you, it truly does make you feel happier to know that person you *didn’t* end up with turned out to be happy—and it’s even more fulfilling when you can still have a positive and friendly relationship. I even bought a few of my favourite films from the old days on DVD, for those “blah” kind of days, or when I feel like sharing something I once loved with people now in my life.

I think it made me happy to hear from someone I was connected to what seems like a lifetime ago—although, in reality, it was perhaps 5 years— not because we were that close, or had so many positive memories from those days, but because it seems like a natural progression of things. Certain people are meant to stay a part of your life, in one way or another, as you go through the different stages of your life—and the result of that is a small reminder that the past doesn’t disappear, it just changes into something different, and often better.



Remembering Summers Past, Max Operandi

I treasure the people with whom I have a shared history, and with whom I am still on good terms, because they are a connection to the person I used to be, complete with a unique set of dreams, fears, and hopes for the future. It’s sad to me that so often, “moving on” means leaving that person behind, as well as the people who knew her.

One of my long-time favourite bloggers, the charming Gala Darling, has started a frank and open dialogue on her blog this week about body image issues, and how the media affects how we perceive ourselves and others, and how the blogosphere is as much of a culprit in the war against self-acceptance as any other form of mainstream media. It’s a very thought-provoking topic, and brings me to my personal challenge for the day.

Day #6:

 

Refuse To Be Ruled By Insecurity

Obviously, unlike some of the other “less ordinary” ideas I’ve posted recently, this isn’t something you can check off your list in a day or so. For most of us, insecurity is a problem that’s taken a lifetime to develop, and nothing is going to cause you to magically love yourself. However, taking the time to work on feeling better about yourself, accepting your uniqueness, and making the most of what makes you special is far more productive than standing at the mirror, mentally pointing out all the things that make you feel inferior.

Getting involved in the world of the performing arts in childhood, for me, meant being exposed to body image issues and insecurity is something that happened at a fairly early age. It’s one thing to go through life feeling inferior, always mentally reminding yourself that you aren’t that special, that you’re not as thin, not as pretty, not as talented,, not as interesting as the next girl. That’s tough on the self-esteem, naturally. But,as a performing artist, you’re repeatedly putting yourself out there for criticism, living in a world that will tell you it doesn’t want you because you’re too fat or too thin, too tall or too short, too plain, too All-American, too ethnic, too virtually anything that you might be is enough of a reason for someone to tell you straight-up they’re not interested in you.

It’s a harsh world, one that aspires to not only perfection, but even then, a type of perfection that’s never attainable. In reality, the most successful performers are those that own who they are, rise above the feedback, and have enough confidence to present an unabashed version of themselves. There are, of course, ways to compensate for that confidence, if you lack it—as the old saying goes, “Fake it until you make it”—but showing insecurity or fear of being judged is the best way to ensure you don’t hired. Even Lady Gaga, the most well-marketed pop sensation since Madonna, hides behind flashy costumes, outrageous makeup, and being as scandalous as she wants to be, while telling an audience full of admirers what she wanted to hear throughout her life as a performer, “You’re special just the way you are, and there’s a place for you, so don’t be afraid.”

It’s pretty easy to do when you have a well-crafted, much-loved image to hide behind. Most performers need to create much more subtle versions of their own image, one that doesn’t give the outward presence of being artificial—but still protects the person inside from demons like judgment, insecurity, and inadequacy. It’s no wonder that many artists, after years of performing, training, schooling, etc., find themselves out in the real, 9-to-5 world not being as accepted, liked, or admired as they’d prefer to be. I once had someone tell me the reason people didn’t like me was because nothing about me seemed real, like I was a character out in the world, rather than a real person. I thought about this more than a little, since the person who said it was someone I’d known for awhile (and later did me great personal harm, so as it turned out, really DIDN’T like me much.), and realised I understood the observation. Being a performer, to a certain extent, means creating a wall between yourself and the rest of the world, a way to protect the fragile pieces inside, and to be tough enough to survive with your confidence intact—and to compete, and win.

It’s not that much different in the “real world”, at least I don’t think so. It’s just that many people are unaware they’re putting those walls up, and others are unaware that without those walls, they’re likely to find themselves trampled upon. Everyone wants to compete, and win, and one of the weapons of choice in life seems to be finding opportunities to cut down your competition. Judging others, gossiping about others, making assumptions about people, and passive-aggressive tricks to create feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are extraordinarily common among even the most educated, talented, and accomplished of women.

In my case, it wasn’t until I spent a few years in the “real world” that I realised how cruel that place could be, and how it was much more difficult to protect yourself from what the world had to say about you, than from a director that refused to give you a job or a photographer that didn’t find your look appealing. Suddenly, all my defenses stopped working. I gained 20 pounds. I didn’t go out of the house to socialise for three months. And, I stopped being able to put myself out there—to go on auditions, to look for work, to flirt with someone I found attractive, to even get up and sing in front of friends, or play games where I risked looking silly. All of the sudden, I felt like what I perceived myself to be—a short, chubby, weird-looking girl that people didn’t like, and always talked about.

After a lifetime of “Fake it until you make it” in the confidence department, I’d started to believe in myself, knowing that whatever my flaws, I had a certain amount of charisma, appeal, and “star quality” working for me. After all, I’d always been a short, curvy, weird-looking girl, and I’d always had plenty of people who didn’t like me….as well as plenty of friends. I landed roles, got noticed positively for my uniqueness, was fairly popular, and had no problems in the dating department. My general attitude toward myself made it easier for me to brush off the rejections, the haters, the things I always disliked about myself.

A particularly negative experience with other people, and ultimately with myself, took that away from me. On one hand, it’s the worst thing that ever happened to me—and on the other hand, it’s the best. I’m learning to love myself in a more real, unconditional way, and learning that being loved by others can be real and unconditional, too. You don’t have to be perfect, thin, beautiful, accomplished, or rich to be loved…you just have to open yourself up to it, which is an extraordinarily difficult task, when you’re always hiding for fear of being hurt.

In reality, there’s no way to protect yourself from that. No matter how perfect, thin, beautiful, accomplished, or rich you are, there will always be someone to judge you, someone waiting to tear you down….and you’ll find that everything you thought would make you happy ultimately did very little. You’ll find yourself constantly hiding, limiting yourself, retreating from life, while simultaneously thinking you’re very free and open and confident enough to put yourself out there.

In case you were wondering, here’s what the average American looks like—and it’s not what you’re seeing in any magazine.

Men:
Height (inches): 69.4 (5 feet, 9.4 inches)
Weight (pounds): 194.7
Waist circumference (inches): 39.7

Women:
Height (inches): 63.8 (5 feet, 3.8 inches)
Weight (pounds): 164.7
Waist circumference (inches): 37.0

In addition, the average non-surgically-enhanced woman wears a 36B bra size, and has 39″ hips, making her between a size 12 and a size 14 for most clothing designers. Although this is average, a size 12 or 14 is considered “plus” size for many designers, and some choose not to manufacture their clothing in these sizes.

Unattainable perfection is the most dangerous illusion, because it leads to the idea that if only we can achieve it, we will finally be worthy of love and admiration, and protected from the possibility of being hurt. It leads to both men and women starving themselves, throwing up in the bathroom five times a day, drinking bottle after bottle to get through the tough times, taking drugs, having random sexual encounters, and mutilating their bodies, all in an attempt to punish themselves for not being a living example of unattainable perfection, and not deserving happiness.

Get out there and live your life, no matter how imperfect you think you are. Flirt with someone you find attractive, without assuming nobody would ever notice *you*. Eat a real meal with friends, carbs and all. Drink champagne to celebrate nothing special, except life. Fall in love. Travel. Open yourself up, without caring what others will say or what the photos will look like.

Personally, I’m going to spend this weekend wearing a few of the many cute outfits that have been retired and hiding in my closet because I think they make me look too fat, too voluptuous, too skanky, or someone else will criticise my quirky fashion sense. I’m going to ignore the scale, stop examining my flaws in the mirror, stop telling myself how unremarkable and unattractive I am. I’m going to get a pedicure, eat brunch, and remind myself that life isn’t an audition, and it’s not a competition.

It’s just life, and each of us is as well-equipped to participate as the next person—even if that person is thinner, richer, smarter, prettier, or has a better job.

Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love: ‘expresses the headlong libidinal attraction‘ of addictive love. Usually, one is inspired with an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone.” ~ Wikipedia

Day #5:



Infatuated, by Pink Butterfly Of Death

*~ Embrace Infatuation *~

I’m a big fan of infatuation, and it’s a state of being that’s played a huge role in my life over the years. In fact, it was the title of a short-lived, private, and thoroughly self-indulgent blog I kept off and on during my early 20′s, filled with emotional angst and feelings about….well….infatuation.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not excellent at relationships and everything that makes them work, which largely accounts for my rather complex and chaotic history in that department. However, infatuation I know well, and rather enjoy. There’s something invigorating about waking up each morning and being immediately reminded there’s this person or thing out there in the world that makes that day an amazing one.

Of course, infatuation doesn’t last—in the worst of situations, it burns itself out in the form of abrupt or cruel disillusionment, and in the best, the object of infatuation becomes a part of your daily life, changing your relationship with it and putting an end to idealism. But, during the brief point in time it exists, it’s a reminder of the human capacity to thoroughly enjoy and adore the people and things in the world, and makes it impossible not to enjoy life.

For someone like myself, someone who is happiest living in a world largely of her own making, full of idealism and emotion and ideas and creative energy, infatuation is a hard-wired personality attribute. I’m not just talking about infatuations with people—although they do exist, and contrary to popular conception of the word, are less romantic in nature than you might imagine— but with ideas, movies, music, books, culture, fashion, food, and even electronic gadgets.

When they apply to people, my infatuations can become dangerous; after all, I’m the type of girl who rarely ever had crushes on movie stars. Instead, I fell in love with characters, fictionalised representations of the types of people I’d be excited by meeting and to whom I’d be immediately attracted. As I grew older, these tendencies shifted themselves into my relationships with others, making it easy for me to idealise those that captured my attention, and even more insistent that I should be that interesting to others in turn. Too many crushes, flings, relationships, and friendships in my life have ended with the realisation that they were in fact infatuations, and I was far more inspired by the possibility than the reality. It is always the process of idealising and admiring another person that I fall in love with, which leads me to quickly fall out of love with the reality of that person, one of many factors that led me to embrace a non-monogamous lifestyle for a number of years. I also think it’s a character flaw that’s kept me from having relationships that work over the long-term, and the recognition of this has forced me to redirect my infatuation energy.


Nowadays, I’m far more likely to become infatuated with ideas, things that inspire my imagination, things that others have created. Over the winter, I became wildly infatuated with all things Tudor, an odd interest for me, because I’m not a history buff. After a previous infatuation, researching my family tree on Ancestry.com, led me to discover that many,many, many generations ago, a branch of my family tree descended from the Tudor line, it turned into me wanting to learn more about some of the crazy characters from that time in history. After immensely enjoying countless hours of The Tudors series by Showtime, I even found a few documentaries I thought were interesting (and I don’t tend to like documentaries.) Not only did I watch all the seasons in a period of a few weeks, I also started reading both fiction and non-fiction relating to the time period, and discovered a new favourite author in the process, Philippa Gregory.

Of course, this infatuation lasted for months, and didn’t disappear until it was replaced by another. Some are much shorter-lived love affairs, like deciding I was going to become more educated about wine, or reading Time Magazine, or that I was going to publish a book of poetry. However, I love that these infatuations come and go, and that some turn into lasting interests and talents—or, at the very least, help me accumulate trivia facts.

Reading over my old journal, which makes me feel a bit embarrassed for the version of myself that was around back then, reminded me that infatuations are healthy, invigorating, and inspiring. They help you grow, they help you discover yourself, and they sometimes even bring others into your life. Of course, the best part is that, unless you’re ready to mention them to the people in your life, your infatuations can stay your own little secret for a lifetime. ;)

I like movies. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who claimed he did not like to watch movies, since it seems to be a form of entertainment that appeals to everyone. I have met people who don’t listen to popular music, who don’t listen to music at all, who choose not to have a TV in their home, or who have TV but rarely watch anything that’s not “intellectual” or “educational”….and while that type of lifestyle would never work for me, and my immense interest in all things media-related, I kind of understand it. While I love watching TV shows and listening to albums, they’re largely solitary pursuits—The Guy I Am Currently Dating is largely disinterested in most popular music, doesn’t go to concerts, and likes different shows than I enjoy watching, with the exception of a few reality shows— and ones that I typically enjoy indoors. In some ways, choosing to just say no to media, or to limit exposure to the media, is a healthier and more social attitude to take towards life.

However, movies are something virtually everyone likes, and whether you rent a DVD or go to the cinema, it can be either a shared social experience, or a way to get quality “me” time. The problem is, it can occasionally be difficult to find something worth seeing.

Day #4:


Watch An Indie, Foreign, Or Art Flick

I personally have different taste in movies than a lot of people. It’s not that I’m a movie snob, it’s just that I can have an impressively short attention span when it comes to things that don’t interest me. I fell asleep during Star Wars multiple times, and I’m apathetic at best towards James Bond, Indiana Jones, Rocky Balboa, anything starring Sylvester Stallone or the former governor of California, and to this day, I swear that “Braveheart” and “The Patriot” are the exact same movie. I’ve never laughed at a movie starring David Spade or Ashton Kutcher, I don’t think jokes about farting, penises, or having sex with pie are funny, and I thought “Sleepless In Seattle” was more terribly overrated than romantic.

In short, I like thought behind movies, and to know that some work and creativity was put into the creation. Too often, a movie is successful because it’s full of lowbrow humour, things that blow up, aliens, a boy and a girl living happily ever after, or 3D special effects. None of those things impress me much. I enjoy smart, witty comedies, well-written dramas, character-driven stories, period/historical films, and romantic comedies with an edge that more closely resembles real life.


Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
That’s why so many of the films I’m impressed with are slightly out of the mainstream, and often things that nobody else has seen, or even heard of, which limits my ability to make small talk at dinner parties and social events. Last night, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I got home at 10:30 PM, rather early for a Saturday, so decided to watch a movie. We chose one called 500 Days Of Summer, which I’d never heard of before, but found delightfully real, charming, and thought-provoking. It was a romantic comedy that, within the first few minutes, informs you it’s not a love story, and features characters that are anything but stereotypical.

Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette

Other indie/art films that I’ve enjoyed over the years and made it on to my list of favourites? Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind tops the list, along with Amelie, Sylvia, Henry And June, Match Point, Closer, Never Let Me Go, and Revolutionary Road. Nick And Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Whip It are must-see hipster flicks, while Becoming Jane, The Duchess, The Young Victoria, and Sofia Coppola’s interpretation of Marie Antoinette are beautiful period films.

What films have you seen that are out of the mainstream, or off the beaten path, yet deserve a little more widespread recognition for being awesome?

Remember when you were a kid, and the best days in the world were the ones where you were unexpectedly allowed to do whatever you wanted, even if that was usually mostly nothing at all?

It’s harder to get that excited, lazy “snow day” feeling as an adult, unless you live in an area that’s prone to significant snowfall—but not often enough, so that it’s a novelty, and where everything shuts down for a day or two. Days off as an adult are a little different—even on weekends, there’s household chores and errands to be taken care of, and children or pets that don’t exactly understand why you want to sleep in. Even if you’re relatively obligation-free, like me, you may often find yourself working on the weekends, or attending social events that start to feel more like work and less like play after awhile. Sometimes, the weekends are actually more hectic than the work week.

Day #3:

 

Play Hooky

Most of us don’t have the freedom to do it very often, but playing hooky from life can be extremely liberating, and just downright fun—particularly if you’re not sick, don’t have an emergency to deal with, and there’s not a foot of snow outside your front door just waiting to be shoveled.



That’s what I’m doing today…a full day of nothing. I’ve had a pretty stressful week, working my butt off (if only there were a way to *literally* do that!) to make sure I can afford to do everything I want to do over vacation, and still pay my bills, both before I leave and after. People often think that working from home—or working in a way where you manage all the details of your own career, rather than showing up to an office every day— is a license to do less work. In reality, it’s the opposite. Working for yourself gives you certain freedoms (for instance, I can avoid getting up at 9 AM and do my work at 2 AM instead, if I choose.), but it also doesn’t give you the option of a traditional schedule that ends at 5 or 6 PM every day. Even on vacation, I still have to carve out a few hours each day to work, because clients tend not to wait. If you’re not going to be around for a few weeks, you’re replaceable, no matter how much they love your work.

My life involves far less time off than you might imagine, even if I am technically able to work in my PJs (incidentally, something I never do, unless I’m actually sick that day.) I sometimes miss keeping a less hectic, more traditional schedule, although not enough to inspire a massive lifestyle change and join the ranks of corporate America…which, as far as I can tell, is filled with uninspired, underpaid, and overworked Americans.

But, today, I am playing hooky. I might break down and work on a few projects here and there, but mostly, I’m planning to give my overworked mind the opportunity to do as little as possible. Afterwards, I’ll head out to play some trivia with The Guy I Am Currently dating, and will probably end up looking as low-key as I feel.

Too much playing hooky is bad for the soul, the body, and the wallet. But, every now and then, it’s the best possible way to re-charge. :)

I’m the kind of person that naturally gets bored and feels uninspired if I stay put for too long. I’m not sure why; it isn’t that I don’t have the capacity to be happy or content. Sometimes, I even value the feeling of safety and security that “home” offers me, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than hide out there for awhile. Those phases are often short-lived, however, and then I find myself plagued by restlessness and ready to chase adventure again.

Day #2:




Escape To Your Happy Place

At least for me, half the fun of going somewhere different is looking forward to getting there. Everyone has their own “happy place”, the place they’d much rather be, if there were no boring meetings, dull assignments, crying children, or endless obligations to attend to in life. For most people, it’s the first place you’d be likely to run off and hide out if you won the lottery tomorrow, quit your job, and had the personal freedom to go anywhere you wished.

My happy place is the beach, which is why I try to go at least once a year. Atlanta, being hopelessly landlocked and short on bodies of water, has the misfortune of having beach-worthy weather for at least 7 months out of every year, without any actual beaches nearby. The closest beach getaways are 5 hours away by car, too far for a day trip, and too inconvenient for non-drivers like myself.

It isn’t so bad, if you live in a nice complex with a pool—which, incidentally, I do not. My complex finally re-opened the pool, and it is now filled with screaming kids and angry, angsty teenagers all day long. It’s a far cry from some of the previous places I’ve lived in Atlanta, where I managed to spend an hour each day lying in the sun and shedding my vampire-like complexion for a few months. So, the result is that once March hits, I start looking forward to a trip to the beach.

I didn’t get to Savannah yet, although I’m determined to spend a weekend there at some point this summer. However, I’ll be visiting the Jersey Shore at the end of June, spending a lot of time lying on the beach and tuning out the entire world. In order to accomplish this, I needed a new bathing suit, and this one seemed to say “me”…at least today.


Sometimes, part of appreciating life is reminding yourself that you have freedoms, choices, options. While you might not always have the time, money, or energy to step away from your life and escape to your happy place, remembering that someday you will is motivating and invigorating. And, sometimes, your happy place might turn out to be exactly right where you are.

As discussed yesterday, I’ve made a commitment to myself to make this summer an interesting one—or at least one that I won’t fondly look back upon as a time I spent working and doing the same old stuff. While work, life obligations, and the daily routine are all an important part of life, too often, they become the thing that defines your life, leaving little room to experiment, grow, and celebrate life.

So, every day, I’m making it a point to do one thing that’s just for me. Every day, I’m going to remember to do something that’s new, different, self-indulgent, or just plain designed to make me happy and appreciate the wonderful things in my life a little bit more. Who knows? Maybe someone out there will read this, and decide to join me.

Day #1:

Listen To An Album By A Band Or Artist You’ve Never Heard Of Before

Too often, most of us stop discovering new things because we’re comfortable with the the things we do like, and don’t want to miss out on experiencing those. You know how it goes: you’ll order the same dish at a restaurant every time you eat there because it’s your favourite, watch the same movie every time it comes on TV, hang out with friends you don’t really like but you’ve known for ages, and keep the same set of sheets on your bed you used in college. It’s important to keep a sentimental attachment to your favourite things, but at the same time, to be able to identify the difference between personal attachment, and simple habit.

I have a habit of listening to the same songs on my iPod, over and over again. I’ve had the same favourite bands for well over a decade, and although once in a great while I’ll discover something new to add to my list of most-loved music, I still have sentimental attachments to music I love, and to the things that remind me of all the good memories in my past. Unfortunately, this can be a little inhibiting when it comes to branching out, discovering new things, and making new memories.

That’s why I decided to start my project by listening to some new music, from artists and bands I’m either not familiar with, or don’t think I’ll like. I started off by listening to Lights by Ellie Goulding. This was a little bit of a cheat, since I had heard of her; in fact, I saw her perform on SNL a few weeks back. But, everyone needs to start somewhere, and listening to Ellie Goulding’s well-acclaimed album led me to discover British breakout artist Clare Maguire, whose Light After Dark is all the rage across the pond, but hasn’t made it to the U.S. as of yet.

 

Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

 In fairness, neither album rocked my world, but both were more than worth giving a listen. Each album had two or three songs on I liked enough to give permanent space in my collection, and I discovered two new unique and talented voices that haven’t yet hit the mainstream. Ellie Goulding’s cover of Elton John’s Your Song is a gem that’s going to stay with me for days, and I’ll probably end up mentioning to friends (well, the ones that don’t read this blog) somewhere along the line.

Since exploring new things quickly becomes a habit, I also picked up some albums from artists I do like, including James Blunt’s Some Kind Of Trouble and Lungs by Florence And The Machine, both of which I’ll listen to if I ever manage to get caught up on my out-of-control workload. (Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person that can listen to music or put TV on in the background, and still concentrate on a thought. I think it’s a mild adult ADD symptom, one I’ve always had.)

What new bands/artists/songs have you discovered lately?

One thing I’ve come to notice about life is that it’s very easy for it to become routine. In fact, most of what a majority of us spend our days doing are the things with which we’re the most comfortable, often to the point that if we’re not paying careful attention, our lives end up on some version of auto-pilot.

When I was younger, the world seemed like this huge place full of adventures and possibilities and things I just couldn’t wait to get out and explore. When I look back, the most memorable of my experiences, the happiest times in my life have always been the ones that were the most unexpected—the ones that, if I’d just been content to sit back and let life happen to me, rather than flinging myself at it in a most undignified manner, I’d have missed out on.

As time has passed, I’ve seen more places, done more things, met more people, and life has started to feel like less of an adventure. After awhile, you start to feel as if one city is really much the same as another, and even though the world is full of people, 95% of those you’re meeting simply aren’t all that interesting. So much more of life begins to be filled with sameness, until you realise you’re not really inspired by your life anymore, not really growing, not really learning or experiencing.

For the past few years, I’ve felt that way. Don’t get me wrong, I have some pretty awesome things in my life. I make a living in a way that allows me freedom and independence, to a certain extent, that not everyone out there has. I have a circle of friends that care about me, and a wider circle of acquaintances I can call upon when I want to go out and have fun. I’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone who loves me, even though it isn’t easy, and even though I’m not sure our futures are in sync. I’ve abandoned a number of self-destructive habits and aspects of my personality that have always stood in the way of me being happy. If I just look at it from the surface perspective, I have most of the things I need in my life. It isn’t a fancy life—I’m not rich, or famous, or accomplished, or glamourous—but it’s one that’s filled with reasons to be happy.

Yet, I often miss that feeling I’d have when I was younger, and about to embark upon a new adventure. I miss that reminder that the world is big, and full of possibility, and there’s always something to be excited about. I miss that random connection with a kindred spirit that’s unexpected and absolutely enthralling, and the sense of empowerment and freedom that comes with going somewhere completely new and different, completely on your own. I miss wondering what’s next, and what’s going to be hiding behind the next door. I don’t necessarily want to give up the security and stability I have in my life now, things that weren’t there then—it’s just that I want to rekindle that sense of wonder, and adventure, and the feeling that the next day might hold something wonderful in store for me.

In order to try to make new things a part of my daily life, and to constantly remind myself that “comfortable” should not be the end-all, be-all of existence, I’m going to spend my summer inviting something new into my life every day. Most will likely be small things, but just the act of reminding myself to always broaden my horizons and let the world in much more frequently is a good way to keep life from becoming routine, while still enjoying many of the “comfortable” pieces of my life that I love, and look forward to each week.

After all, it’s a big world out there, and you’re never too old to stop exploring, taking chances, and choosing to do something different. It’s just that most of us become so busy and distracted and consumed by the obligations of every day life, we save that spirit of exploration, adventure, romance, relaxation, and discovery for weekends, vacations, and holidays…if we’re not too tired.

Life is too short to forget that spirit of freedom, and that belief in ourselves and in possibility we all have in our younger years. Perhaps adults just have to work a little harder to maintain that free-spiritedness that used to come more easily, when there were less obligations, and fewer experiences with heartbreak.

This summer, I think I’m going to go out of my way to try and reconnect with that part of myself. It may fail, but it also may become a new, lifelong way of looking at the world. :)