Another Trip Around the Sun
Lately I’ve felt that the older I get, the less sure of things I become.
Of course, that’s because I spend way too much time in my head, most of the time. And the more time I spend there, the less sure of anything I am.
I’ve been living in Alaska since mid-May. I spend Monday through Friday of each week completely cut off from society, social media, and the news. What should be a restorative communion with nature evolved into a mess of overthinking just about EVERYTHING. That nasty little creature, doubt, started invading my thoughts. Am I doing a good enough job? Is my cooking good enough? Am I making everyone happy? Am I planning for my future enough? Why do I always feel behind? In a place where stress should be in total absence, I was creating LOADS of it for myself.
So the other night, we had a rare clear night sky in Misty Fjords, Alaska. The moment my attention was drawn to the stars overhead, I snatched my glass of wine and beelined to the front of the boat.
Rising up from the shadow of a dusky ridgeline lay all those constellations I know so well. I spotted the Big Dipper, no longer askew or invisible as it was in the southern hemisphere. Orion’s belt was on powerful display, a little lower in the sky than it used to be when I held my dad’s hand and asked him about the stars in the sky as a little girl. And as it always is when I’m far away from everything, the Milky Way blazed a cloudy trail through the inky black. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had come home.
I sat under those stars, and finally felt like all the things I was unsure of just… Didn’t matter. Who cares if I don’t know, if I don’t have the answers? What a tiny blip am I, compared to that sun that just shot out of the sky? If I never figure it out, it doesn’t matter to anyone or anything but me, really. So instead of thinking and stressing all the time, why not just live life for the love of it?
I turn 31 today. And to be honest, I’m nowhere NEAR the goals my 21-year-old self set for her 10 year plan. Then, I was finishing college, trying to figure out a career that would lead to the white picket fence and the corner office and everything I thought I should want. Ten years on, I now know the difference between plotting and living. Twenty-one-year-old me charted a path and followed each goal like a north star, only to find a bigger, brighter star beyond it. But I’ve finally stopped chasing things, and I’m only just learning how to sit down, look up, and appreciate the view.
I’m proud of the woman I’ve become in 31 years. I don’t have a single marker of ‘success’ by societal standards: no solid job, six figure salary, white picket fence or any clue what I’m doing next. But holy hell, have I LIVED. And here’s what I do have: a heart that chooses love every time, a lust for squeezing every ounce of experience out of the precious little time we have on this planet, a healthy dose of respect for all things, and the ability and desire to sit under the stars and understand that I am an insignificant blip on the radar, and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At age 29, I threw all my carefully-laid plans to the wind and started all over again. After two years, I’m no closer to knowing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. But, my god, do I love living it. And isn’t that just the most beautiful thing?