A Thing to Draw and a Journey

An Old Hotel, ink on paper, 5 3/8″ x 8 1/2″

Hi there. Sorry for the radio silence. It’s been a week, and by that, I mean a helluva week. It’s also been over a week since I last posted, which is technically a breach of contract, since I committed to posting at least once a week when I started writing this blog. I am apologetic for that, but I am also working on not minding, or at least, not holding it against myself. Beating myself up for mistakes I have made is an unconscious habit of mine, and while I consider it a fairly human habit, I am really, seriously working on it right now. Forgiveness is the theme of the moment.

Forgiveness for hurting others in the struggle to support myself. Forgiveness for hurting myself in the struggle to navigate life.

Unlike in California, spring exists in the mountains of Arizona. It looks like this, among other things.

I took a trip to Arizona to visit two of my closest friends for their graduation and to give myself space to start healing from a recent choice to leave some one that I love to pursue my own path. Spending time with old friends is both a balm and a new ache. I am blessed to know so many wonderful, strange souls. Being in their presence reminds me that there are indeed others who find science poetic and nature hilarious, art impossible to live with and impossible to live without, and the whole tumult of being a human just absurd in general and therefore fantastic. It is hard though, figuring out where to look for such people away from the moth light of academia.

A home once mine in a town once mine.

This is one cornerstone of the forgiveness puzzle. Understanding that the struggle to find community, purpose, and affirmation post-college is not a failing on my part, but an almost unavoidable aspect of life for those of us who have the privilege to pursue and benefit from higher education. In college, you self-select to meet people with similar interests, values, and goals, and then come together underneath the banner purpose of your school and major. At Prescott College, we were “for the liberal arts, the environment, and social justice.” It’s a damn good crowd of passionate, opinionated, proactive, and magnificently humorous people. And I miss them. And I miss the shared momentum and joy. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be stressed. It’s okay to wonder how I will ever get by in life when I some times feel so alone on the path. I’m not truly alone, and it becomes easier to move through moments of loneliness when I’m not caught up in resenting myself for them. This is what I am learning.

Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) is recognizable by its unique checkered bark and ability to incite wonder and acceptance in the hearts of observers.

And then there is forgiveness for love lost and love given away. For hurting some one I care for. For being so angry at myself for choosing to leave that I did it utterly unskillfully. For missing him even though I made the choice to be on my own. For berating myself for all of the above. And even for this: being chaotic and confessional, rather than steady and unswayed. I wrote an essay once relating myself to a forest and its fire cycle: we go up in flames so that new seeds may germinate. It’s an apt and a comforting metaphor, but at times I can’t help aching to be calm and resolved instead of wild and reckoning. To be even instead of tumultuous. To be some way other than the way I am.¬†Forgiveness for that. I can feel it growing among the embers.

Thanks to pinyon-juniper woodlands and the butterscotch smell of Ponderosa pine trees for cradling me in my sadness. Thanks to you all for love and patience.