"Every now and then, quite unintentionally, someone taught you something about yourself." Ian McEwan, Atonement.
Like the clients I've worked with who think I'm helping them, when they've actually helped me grow tremendously. Or the stranger you somehow have an extremely candid/vulnerable conversation with. The relationship that didn't work out despite great love and respect. The willful child who pushes all of your buttons. The coworker with no boundaries. The most difficult and the most rewarding people we meet are all a part of the journey of life and knowing ourselves better. Much gratitude for those who help give us a deeper understanding <3
I was speaking with a friend last night about disappointments he was experiencing with relationships in his life. In this specific case my friend felt that he looked up and suddenly wasn't sure which friends were good friends, or if the people he was spending a great deal of time with were actually adding meaning to his life. The question of how one can have a bustling social life, a job and an awesome apartment, but perhaps feel lonely and unfulfilled.
The thought came to me that we are in this moment of a re-appreciation for craftsmanship. Craft beers have taken over, and creative "small plates" at restaurants - which make me panicky. And what about raw, hand crafted wood furniture, or goodness, the beautifully crafted cocktail we'll wait 20 minutes for and spend $13 on. It's definitely become laughable (especially here in the bay area) but there is still something lovely about an object, beverage or an experience that has been made by someone taking their time and creating with intention and care. Am I right? It's interesting to me that we don't necessarily think of our lives in the same way. All of a sudden they get created. Filled up with friends, and a job... with a partner or a location or speed, that we sort of fell into without intention. And once our lives get going, they're really moving, huh. I mean, our schedules can fill up so quickly that we don't have any time to reflect on if we even want to be doing what we're doing. Once our daily lives are in motion, it feels impossible to evaluate, do an overhaul and shave off unnecessary commitments or add more inspiring ones. Tired of meeting up with friends three times a week for drinks because you actually don't want to drink that much... and you're not sure any of these people would be around if you decided not to? Or maybe you have a job that pays well and offers a lot of perks, but you are feeling creatively stunted. I want to take a moment to acknowledge that to have safety and basic needs met, let alone be able to contemplate how to have the best life possible, is quite a privileged position to be in. And herein lies the responsibility.
It is completely within our control to take the time to envision what we want our lives to be like and to make decisions that lead us toward that vision. This is not to be confused with the "5 year plan"... it doesn't have to be focused on which specific job we want to have or what we want to own. It's values based. For instance, I want to be present in my own life and really show up for the people around me. I want to be honest with myself, and with others. I want to learn to be better at having direct, and somewhat difficult conversations when necessary. I want to embrace adventure and spontaneity. I want to be around people who inspire me and move me toward actualizing these values in my life. This list is just a sample and it's not exhaustive at all. These intentional visions we hold for ourselves create a lens through which we can make decisions in life. Is it going to bring me closer to the best version of myself? All of these decisions, big and small, add up to the whole of our lives.
This isn't easy. Let's face it. Some of these life decisions are difficult and may require support from close friends or a trusted therapist. But if we're fortunate enough to be living in the Bay Area and to have options, then we have a responsibility to take great care when crafting our lives and to create beautiful pieces that, even if flawed, required thought and effort --something that we can be proud of!