First, to catch you up on the rest of the summer:
I left that first farm in the middle of July and spent three weeks in the Buffalo area, the highlights of which included waging war on the bed bugs in my partner’s apartment and spending a weekend at a clothing-optional pagan camp. I then spent all of August and September at Six Circles, wherein I met some new folks and reconnected with some other folks, built a fairy house in a tree, slept in a tent, built my own fires, skinny dipped during a lunar eclipse, played guitar at an open mic in the barn, got my fingers dirty and dusty and covered in garlic, watched telenovelas, work-traded for an energy session, appeared in a farm-rap music video, baked sourdough, went sailing, explored a long-abandoned house in the woods, and collected bones and beach glass and exoskeletons along the lake shore. When I left Six Circles I spent one week at a small homestead near Dansville, NY, where I got to hang with a peacock and ducks and chickens and dogs and cats and fish. I moved in with my partner in Buffalo around October 10th and restarted my job of now five and a half years on October 26th.
This farming-summer was not what I expected, and at times it was hard to roll with that, but I tried to focus on learning what I could and gathering experiences—I feel like I can make the most of pretty much anything if that’s the approach that I take. (Everything I do lately feels like reconnaissance, like I’m storing up as much information as possible for some unknown journey ahead of me.) It’s funny how easy it is to become absorbed into different worlds. As soon as I settle back into my Buffalo mindset, those other places and people and memories fade into sepia hues like dreams from which I’ve woken. Buffalo did that too, to some extent, while I was in those other places, but perhaps since I’ve spent the most time here, it remained more real to me. The moment I came back to the office it was as if I’d never left. People didn’t ask me much about my time away, and those who did asked while we were passing in the hallway, clearly not expecting a response longer than “Good!” Having worked here for five-plus years, I’m familiar with how quickly we forget people after they’ve left, and once they return, how quickly we forget that they were ever gone. Office life is an easy rhythm to settle into, but if I’m not careful it will eat the rest of my consciousness.
So when I’m not dealing with work or basic life things (cooking, sleeping, cleaning), or trying to maintain my relationships with people here, I’ve been trying to focus on exploring the inner landscape. I’ve been doing a lot of what I like to call “psychological spelunking,” going back through old journals, photos, school papers, cringe-worthy AIM chats (oh god oh god oh god), all sorts of things, to excavate the different me’s I’ve been and to try to plot out the path that’s brought me to where I am now. From there, hopefully I can follow the trajectory to where, and who, I want to be. I’m at loose ends in terms of my next steps in life. I’m not content to stay in Buffalo and work in an office for very much longer. I would like my own land to steward—my own dwelling, a dog, trees, space to grow food—but that isn’t going to happen right away. In the meantime, I can work to try to save up money, but that’s what I’ve been doing for a while now and I’m starting to feel like my time is more valuable than that. I’m looking into other ways to travel cheaply and learn new, hopefully valuable things, to meet new people and have new adventures. The destination I have in mind for now, to give me direction, is still that vision of homesteading in a community, but I’m also trying not to be too specific: that can be my goal for now, but I fully expect it to evolve as I do.
Because expository prose gets boring, here’s kind of a stream-of-consciousness thing I wrote at work on December 29th. Every once in a while I look at the words that came out of my fingertips and think, THAT. THAT is the thing that I have been trying to articulate for months. This was one of those moments.
That feeling that you’re on the right track, on the right path, going where you should be going, that your steps are right, sanctioned, preordained, imbuing your existence and your every choice with an aura of rightness and holiness and certainty.
I have felt that way at certain points, but mostly, I have not. Is that a feeling worth paying attention to? A feeling worth striving for? Does it mean anything, or is it just being dillusional? Delusional. Illusion. I like this unintentional word combination.
Perhaps I felt this way as a child—or rather, I didn’t stop to think whether I felt this way or any other way. I just was, and did, and lived. The immediate experience, unfiltered through philosophy.
I may have felt this way in tenth grade, or twelfth. But it was always tenuous. I suppose it always is. It’s ecstatic and terrifying because I never really expect it to last, and even as I revel in it I am dreading its departure.
My sophomore year of college, fall semester, events seemed to be falling into place as if life was taking me on a specific journey, and I was thrilled. I broke up with my first boyfriend, went on the Kairos retreat, dyed my hair red and cut it short, made friends with my whole dorm floor, and met someone who seemed like the epitome of all I wanted to be at the time. It was a gradual, intentional, intense process of meeting, like entering a pool one step at a time. It was fate—or so it seemed. I took my fate into my own hands the following semester by studying abroad and toppling that whole dynamic in one fell swoop without quite realizing that’s what I was doing. When it finally hit me I stared at my hands like new monsters grown from my wrists—how did I do this terrible thing? I felt my destiny deserting me.
I perhaps vaguely had the destiny-feeling when I lived in San Francisco for JVC… but the next time it really hit me hard was the summer of 2013, which I spent at Six Circles. I could liken it to that semester of college: totally new experiences, a new cast of characters, a new paragon of who I want to be, a new picture of who I was. Everything felt Right, and fated. But I left—I came back to Buffalo. What else could I have done? Staying through the winter wasn’t an option. Journeys must move forward; they can’t just stagnate at critical intersections, no matter how we long to linger there. When I went back to Buffalo, though, I didn’t go back to my tumultuous relationship or my old apartment—I moved to the co-op and met my current partner, rendering my life quite a different thing and pushing me forward along the new path forged that summer. However, I did return to my old job, and here I have been now for 5½ years, not counting leaves of absence for farming.
Can my return to this job alone account for the loss of the destiny-feeling?
If I leave this job now, or in the spring, what should my next steps be? How do I know? The options are limitless. How can I tell which options are in line with the path I want to follow?
You know what all of these places have in common on my life-timeline? All of these destiny-feeling instances I’m describing to you in such vague terms? RADICAL HUMAN CONNECTION. Which makes a lot of sense, since that’s the purpose of life as far as I’ve been able to figure the past few years. I’ve been really sold on this concept of us all starting out as One (one being, one energy, one whatever substance you want to insert here), and this mortal human life on earth is our chance to experience being separate and individual and alone while striving to merge back into the One—which hopefully is what happens when life ends. And perhaps the great pool of humanity just continually breaks off pieces to continue the mortality dance and re-enter the pool in new formations every time, kaleidescope-like. So that explains why I feel this sense of destiny and purpose and rightness during periods when I’m forging radical new connections with people, or at least trying to do so reallyreallyhard. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
[The rest was about how hard it is to connect deeply with people as adults. It seemed to come so much more easily when we were younger. Why might that be? How can we overcome it?]