A year ago, I sat down and decided that maybe my routine had become a rut. That what I thought of as consistency and a stable life was really a little bit of a safety net, an easy way out; a way to control everything and avoid chaos at all cost. Have I mentioned how much I hate chaos?
From this acknowledgement came the weekly “chaotic” moment: 52 weeks, one moment of yes instead of no, one new experience embraced.
I did not make it 52 weeks.
I did not think of chaos and interrupting my routine after I saw the way a freak accident could take a life and turn it completely around. It didn’t feel right, or honest, to continue to write about my small chaotic moments when a little girl and her mama and daddy and everyone else who loved her were watching her learn how to swallow, walk, talk, and just be again.
But, while I was not thinking about chaos, regularly recording the interruptions I sought out to my day, or purposely saying yes to an invite or request, I did, in fact, learn something those last 26 weeks about adapting to chaos: I learned that sitting in Sunday afternoon traffic is nothing compared to sitting in a hospital room; I learned that being a friend sometimes means being a protector, and it sometimes means sitting in the parking lot and crying in your coffee while one friend holds your hand and you both think of the other friend you just left behind with books and a hug and fuck-all else because all you can do is be there.
What I really learned is that perspective can change everything. And it’s okay to live the life in front of you, while acknowledging the hardships around you. I was reminded this past year that life is complex, and I don’t need to invite chaos to live and acknowledge the good and bad parts of it.
If you know me, you know I am not afraid to leave an event early. In fact, if you know me well, you know that if I’m still there at the end, it’s because you’ve somehow trapped me there (parked an excavator in front of my truck, for instance, Jeff), or guilted me by making a larger effort (driving from Nevada, Bri? Well played.).
This is not just because I’m the very definition of an extroverted introvert—or the friendliest unfriendly person as my Scorpio sister calls me—but because I like to control how things end. Cue fake gasps here.
Yes, I read the end of a book first. Yes, I look up the end to a movie if I am on the fence of whether or not I want to watch it. Sometimes, I look it up on my phone while we’re in the middle of watching it because I cannot stand not knowing. I don’t know when this habit began; I don’t even know why. I know it must be hereditary because I see it in my daughter as she holds her place in a novel with her finger and skips a hundred pages ahead to read, or when she closes her eyes and plugs her ears during a movie and asks me to tell her if it gets better.
I choose to believe it always gets better, Livvy-Love, even if we aren’t in control at first. I hate that, hate knowing I can’t anticipate everything, adapt to it early, be ready for it. But the book I was reading this morning reminded me that there is something more important than being a “one day” person (thank you, Abby Jimenez). That being a person who embraces the now, this moment, is as important as planning for the future moments to come, if only because we can’t control the when and how of anything but right this minute.
2023, you took something from us all. You broke our hearts, our spirits, and our belief in a lot of ways. But you also gave us faith. You gave us miracles, and you gave us the understanding that while life cannot always be controlled or anticipated, it can be lived, and lived well, when we see a way forward. Blakely Grace: you showed us there is almost always a way forward, and we can adapt the fuck out of it if need be, so long as we are strong enough, resilient enough, and willing enough to keep going.
That’s the perspective that I am taking into 2024: my way forward. This includes writing a teaching memoir, learning to hand-letter (dear god, I am awful but it’s so fun), adventuring with Old Man River and Liv, and finding the awesomeness in my daughter even when she’s writing another five paragraph essay about lying…because the first really needed some edits on those citations and a different action plan:)
Happy 2024, loves. May your way forward be both predictable and exciting.