Friday, June 20, 2014

On Stillness, Simplicity, and Solitude - How I'm turning 24, and turning life upside-down

In one week I will turn 24, and that is worth celebrating.  So the Montana roommate bakes this beautiful cake and we all hop in the car to meet my sweet pianist friend for dinner.  There might have been more of us, but in that moment, four is the perfect number.  The restaurant is nearly empty.  We pick a corner booth, and there is laughter and there are trick candles that almost set off the smoke alarms (Word to the wise: save the trick candles for private parties!).  Memories are made in laughter and in tears (especially when the laughter draws the tears), but they are solidified in the silence.  And we have that too, those moments where we simply exhale and enjoy being together.  It is some kind of wonderful when we find those certain people and certain places that teach us how to breathe and how to be.  I think of all the joy this time has held, joy that I might have missed had I been in my usual distracted state.

But I am on vacation this week.  No, I haven't left the red couches of my apartment, haven't left the streets of this town that has become home (to think I am starting my seventh year here!).  But I have done much.  I have stayed up late into the night until my eyes on their own grew heavy and slept until my body was ready to wake.  I have gone on runs and plopped on the couch.  I have studied the Word, soaked in great books, and had private movie and TV show marathons.  I have brewed pots of coffee in the middle of the afternoon and sipped it slow, instead of chugging it down as some desperate source of energy.  I have been decidedly unproductive, as well as decidedly productive.  I have begun to re-find balance, and it has been wonderful.

And I've noticed that.  How I feel such strength when I am rested.  How I can so easily (if that's even possible) take both the good and the bad, the light and the burdensome in stride when I have space to breathe and process.  How I can accomplish so much when my mind isn't cluttered and my work is not pressured.  I can feel it getting into my very bones, this love for the quiet, the still, the small.  Each moment has its own abundance of life held within it, its own experience of the sacred, so easy to miss in the distraction and the chaos.  But when we choose to still, to create space, we taste the moment and we see the beauty and we find that He is good.  And it makes the laughter richer and the conversation sweeter and the work less burdensome - this simple, small, quiet life.  And maybe my "old soul" is showing...  Because the women I am reading whose writings so reflect my own heart are women at least twenty years my senior.  Women who are raising families, managing households, or are done with all that.  Women in a completely different season of life.  They cry for a simpler life, a different rhythm.

And my peers and I, in our youth, we applaud them, even encourage them, for they deserve a simpler life.  They have earned it.  And then we turn back to our running, for we must build our lives and hack a path for ourselves.  We are young.  We must fill up our lives while we can - cram it all in.  YOLO is our modern equivalent of carpe diem.  But even we, if we are honest, are crying out, in the midst of our quarter-life crisesfor space and wholeness, tired of fragmentation and strife.  We who are fighting a battle to find who we are.  We who are climbing the ladders and competing against the world and putting on our masks, shining up our armor so we stake our claim and our place.  We, too, long to shed it all.  We, too, long for it to be simple.  We, too, grow weary of the noise.

I wonder if maybe we've got it all wrong.  Maybe this time in our lives doesn't have to be about fighting and filling and running ragged.  Maybe what we need, what I need, isn't another activity or experience or award or relationship to prove I have a place in this world.  Maybe what I need to find my place is to find myself.  And to find myself I need silence, simplicity, stillness, solitude.  I need to embrace the grace of the quiet and the small.

Maybe I need to do life totally different to find a life that is totally abundant.

Maybe if I choose to protect the white space, instead of cramming it all full, I will find fullness of Beauty and true Joy.

Maybe I'll make 24 different.  Maybe I'll make 24 revolutionary, by making space.

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