For some reason, I've been thinking back a lot lately. And this tends to have several effects on me. My blog posts get whinier and more scatter-brained (don't tell me you haven't noticed...whoever you are), I don't play around with my beloved collection of hobbies as much, and I play the piano (my melancholy instrument) way more than I should.
But the upshot of all this backwards-thinking is that I inevitably end up learning something about myself. Which, you know, can be good.
This time, we're learning something that goes a little something like this:
Isn't it amazing the difference a year makes?
Yea verily, you say. So what?
I'll tell you so what.
A year ago, almost to the day, I was sitting in another country feeling very small. I had paid for the trip, I had wanted the trip, and I GOT the trip. Two weeks exploring, meeting odd and wonderful people, and forging my own way.
I did a lot of things I had never done before (and probably won't ever do again). And though each little episode meant nothing in itself, it stood for something a lot bigger in my psyche.
That one time I talked to those people I thought were cooler than me and discovered they were just like me? Yeah, that was me walking up to my Self Esteem Issues and pointing at them, saying, "(Gulp) You d-don't scare me!" and being shocked when they vanished. That walk through the dark of Dublin at 5:30am? A walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That time I went solo to the pub and actually survived the experience? A moment of pure she-warrior-ness.
And I made decisions. And I grew up, if only a little. And I got a bit tougher. And my horizons got broadened. And the things that I didn't need anymore? I left them on a distant shore, hidden under an unimpressive rock on a faceless shifting beach. And I thought that was enough.
A year later, they come back to my door and knock occasionally. It's easy to forget that I left them. But I have touchstones to remind myself. I'm a different person, now. I dress a bit differently. I eat more greens. I use less plastic. I listen to a different spectrum of music, perhaps. I'm more likely to tell you when I don't like something, but I'm ten times more likely to gush praise at you until you blush (if I think you'll let me). I've got a lot more antiques in my room, now, and I cook a lot more. I never did focus on one hobby...I focused on ten, and life has been all the richer for it, and I regret none of it. I intend to learn tens upon tens more.
But most importantly: I surprised myself with a precious gift. I finally said it was okay to know who I am, and to make guesses, and to be wrong. To follow the clues in God's Scavenger Hunt, each one better than the next, leading me on toward Me. I'll be damned if I ever let anyone else sneak a clue in there to try and lead me off the right track.
And I'll be further damned if I don't rip up those false clues from years back, the ones that seemed so real, the ones that seemed right because of who said them at the time. I'm still putting band aids on the scratches and scars from forays through brambles and thorns, following clues to my personality that made no sense. But I pressed on, because I thought for certain they were true. And I thought for certain they were right. And I so wanted them to be right that I tried to will them into truth. And I bled.
But only a bit. And only for a time.
So a year later, I'm sitting in a very normal place, at a very normal time, thinking very normal thoughts. I'm thinking back to how it used to be, and flipping through the roadmaps, and clutching the clues to myself, and wondering where it goes from here. And thinking I could never imagine where I'll be in twelve whole months from now. Putting another band aid on the scratches and the scars, glad that they're getting smaller and less noticeable by the day (because they're nothing but a silly hindrance, anyway). It's a different sort of evening already. I can feel it coming. Daybreak is on its way.
And that's so what.