At 42, I’m not the young one in the group anymore. No longer the rising-shining-star baby on my work team. No longer younger by decades than almost everyone in my doctoral program. Our housemates are 10 to 15 years younger than Daniel and I now, as are most of the people who’ve come here to cowork this year. Today at the hair salon, I noticed that everyone was 15 years younger than me, even the owner. I’m not the wonder kid anymore.
Maybe most people slowly notice this planetary-wide-except-for-me shift to youth, over time, as they age, but I’m not most people. I was never a trend-of-the-moment human, not even at 22, and as a full-time writer and story wrangler who works for myself, I spend a ton of time in my own head, in my own world, so the whole thing sort of snuck up on me.
This isn’t a complaint. Age 42 is exponentially better than ages 1 through 41, which is terrific in itself, and almost more so in what that means for 43 and beyond.
It’s better because this is the year. This is our year!
This is the year when…
I began to notice how utterly amazing everyone around me is, because I finally stopped being overly preoccupied with how utterly amazing I am (or am not) most days.
All my work became play; all my work colleagues, friends and playmates, because we recognize that we have the power to be and do whatever the hell we want to be and do. And we want to play and be awesome together.
I began to fully experience my community as my self, so being self-centered has shifted from a negative to a positive.
A major shift of power within. Before I could hear a universe of wonder within silence. This year, we began calling it forth. “Come forth, wonder!” Drawing it to us like lightning to a lightning rod.
This is the year I walked through death and heart break and came out still standing on the other side. A new creature, more loving, more empathetic, and more utterly amazed by human beings and what we can survive and thrive through than kid wonder ever suspected. We are so astonishingly strong, woven of a cloth more resilient than I could have previously imagined.
This is the year I decided that mystery, wonder, freedom, fun and utterly amazing creatures rule my world. Today, right now, not some day. The year I stopped believing that somebody else’s story was more true, that some other voice more important than my own.
This is the year I joined the gift economy, receiving gift after gift for the value I provide and just as often for the sheer fun of giving and receiving. The year I stopped worrying about money (most days). The year the abundance of my world snapped into view for me.
“We see things as we are, not as they are.” someone far smarter than me said. And I listened, awe-struck, realizing, finally, that all I have to change is me.
This was the year I loved my own life more than any other life I’ve read about, or seen, or imagined, and I thought to myself, without a trace of guilt for it: “Damn this story has a good writer.”
This is the year I noticed that I like being a resting spot for others. Not a stationary rest spot: not a pee break on life’s highway. More like a sailboat. A place for us to rest together, among friends, and feel ourselves as the waves for a while instead of flailing alone, trying not to drown. Thanks coworkers.
This is the year I first noticed that I’m a writer, when somebody else called me that, thanks Bas. I was never a fast learner.
The year I first wondered in earnest if I might someday be a poet, because more and more of my self-selected mentors are. The ability to bend silence: ooo, I want it.
This is the year I made peace with the fact that the questions that find me keep changing, never allowing me to rest on expert laurels. The year I learned to rest, instead, within the laugher of my friends. What a relief. Thank God.
This is the year I spent 7 months depressed (my previous record was 2 weeks)—the start of which was realizing my mom, who has Alzheimer’s disease, will never read my new book, or any future book I write, and the end of which was getting to cry on her shoulder, with her, and be comforted by her when my dog died, and I remembered what matters most about having a mom, and I knew that I still have it, and always will. Thanks depression.
The year I was changed from “long-winded” to “wending.” Thanks Natalie.
This is the year I let go of personal responsibility for any success I might have as an individual. That’s up to my community now, thanks all. And the year I accepted the responsibility for almost everything else, because I’m strong and I want to and I can, so there.
The year I became a little more comfortable with paradox, and life, and humanity, and my self, and with discomfort (take that, discomfort). And a bit more comfortable with death. I’ve been living the afterlife of those I love who passed on, and we’re still smiling, still loving and laughing. Thanks Grandma Kane and Dan and Grady.
The year I gave myself over to gratitude most days.
This is the year I finally proved to myself that crying equals strength (thanks Bernie and self). That being a woman means powerful beyond measure not powerless (thanks waves of extraordinary women that keep washing over me). The year I came to believe that creative, self-aware quirky humans, not evil assholes, run the world (thanks social network).
The year I more fully experienced flaws as gifts, because they are gifts. We make them so.
And we run our world. We really do. I’m leaving blame behind.
I still write like a girl, play like a girl, throw like a girl (thanks boobs), cry like a girl, and still give advice like a girl (“the work is finished when you’re crying together in public, not before then”).
But I listen with my whole being, as a woman, now, and I accept the responsibility that comes with total freedom.
And so do those I’m with. Together, we fucking rock the world.
Goodbye kid wonder. Hello Wonder Woman.
Invisible jet and golden lasso? Check.
Tiny waistline? Nope. With better vision, it’d be a shame not to redraw amazing.
And this was also the year I began to draw again.