“Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”
When I first moved to Portland three years ago, I was hard at work on a fantasy trilogy (shocker, I know) but I worked two jobs and sixteen-hour days. I began my day by taking the 5:05am bus to the ACE Hotel where I worked as a front desk attendant and then, when that shift ended, I had a few hours off before I began work at the restaurant next door. When I got home it was nearly 11 and I was too exhausted to be creative or write so I just fell asleep. In order to get any work done—I rose at 4 am to write in the frigid kitchen—even a half hour of writing felt holy—felt like a tender and necessary release.
Flash forward to Airbnb—I finally had a job with benefits and a sense of financial security—a sensation so slippery I'd never managed to grab hold of it before. I didn’t need to literally count pennies. I felt confident getting a Spotify Account knowing that I’d always, at the very least, have 10 dollars in my account.
I never wrote. And when I say never, I mean, never ever. I felt numb. It wasn't that the job was bad--it's just that it wasn't right for me. But I had this money I’d never possessed before. It made me feel free. So I started to plan vacations. I traveled more in those two years than I’d ever traveled before. I went home to Denver regularly, I visited my dear friends in New York, I spent ten days in Alaska. I went on climbing trips to Bend regularly.
The problem? I began to live for these extraordinary moments. My daily life became a head-down-bury-myself-in-work just so I could make it to those beautiful weekends of escape. Time moved in a strange, leaky way. Slow and trudging and then, quickly disappearing through these moments of great beauty.
So I quit. I didn’t want to feel alive one weekend a month. I didn’t want my day-to-day experience to feel so tired and rote that my life acquired an underwater quality. I didn't want to be the embodiment of these lyrics: I’m not living, I’m just killing time.
While living in New Zealand, I certainly felt in-the-moment because every moment was distinctly uncomfortable. And yet despite that discomfort I was at peace, so in line with who I wanted to be. I was at ease within that dissonance.
Now, at back in Denver, I find myself living for those extraordinary moments once again. For trips to Telluride and Steamboat and Moab. Weekends when, once a month, I can lose myself in the mountains and a field of stars. Despite all the work I’ve done being comfortable in my own body and my own mind—I still feel most myself when I’m in the woods. That’s when I believe myself to be the most powerful, beautiful. There, I can exist without (self-imposed) judgment. I am me without eyes to look upon me, without ears to hear my voice.
I work at a place where I am surrounded by humans whose company I enjoy but despite the fun conversation and shared values, the job itself just isn't right. There's nothing wrong with it, in fact it's very comfortable. But that's just it--there's no risk.
We can’t let our lives drift away in this plateau where we are unenthused and empty and then peak for brief moments of brightness. I need to make a conscious effort to make simple moments, simple tasks, like going to the grocery store—walking to work, feeling the night autumn air sting my cheeks, meaningful. I want to wonder at the smell of my apartment when I finally arrive home. I want to feel as passionately alive when I read tremblingly, true books before bed as I do riding a mountain bike down slopes.
Because as ordinary as it all appears, sometimes it is beyond our imagination.