Revision, or My Brain’s Sabbatical

March 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’s spring!! No, really, this time! It’s absolutely gorgeous in these fine cities of mine. You know how they say smell is the most powerful trigger of memory? I think weather conditions are equally powerful. The weather often inspires me to think about the last day that felt the same or maybe a particularly noteworthy day that felt the same. It’s not that every day I walk out of my apartment building and am hit with a tidal wave of memories of days that had the same atmospheric conditions (although there are certainly days where it feels like I’m wading through a hip-deep sea of memory), but quite frequently I am reminded of a similar season from some past year.  Lately I’ve mostly been reminded of my first year living in Cambridge.

Everything was so foreign to me. I was a pedestrian for the first time in my life, which actually worried me.  How backwards and screwy is that? What could I possibly rely on more than my own body? A hunk of machinery? Yeah, right. But I guess back then I really didn’t rely on my body for much. I mean, other than basic life functions, my world revolved around intellectual activity, not physical activity. A year and a half later, that couldn’t be less true.  It’s surely no coincidence that the least intellectually stimulating years of my life have coincided with my long-overdue attention to physical health.  It’s certainly been a gradual change.  At first it was just the matter-of-fact lifestyle change of moving to a city and walking everywhere rather than driving. Quite obviously, that meant I was more physically active in a really basic, everyday way. But that change in behavior, although minor, was the start of a sea change in my life. As my graduate studies progressed and I was forced to accept that my program is just not intellectual (practical and useful, but not remotely intellectual), I really began to need something more.  At some point last spring, I made the conscious decision that if I wasn’t getting what I wanted from school, I had better be making every effort to get what I wanted from the other areas of my life.  The results: traveling to Europe, first of all, and finally embracing a healthy lifestyle. And perhaps also worthy of making this list is my decision to let new people into my life.

So, I’ve written more than enough (or have I?) about my trip to Europe; I don’t need to rehash it all right now. But it was easily and by far the most liberating, empowering, thrilling, terrifying, wonderful, exhausting, and brilliant thing I’ve ever done. No contest. It will probably always be winner of some of those superlatives (at least “liberating” and “empowering,” although the others I am by no means done with trying to reuse). Only wait, maybe getting my own body within my control (acknowledged: it always has been, even if I didn’t know it) is even more empowering and liberating than that. (Mind = blown.)

Decisiveness not being my strong suit, I’ll leave the assignment of superlatives for another day. But my point still stands. Without intellectual stimulation, I had to find something else to focus my considerable will power on. Hello, new body, it’s great to see you.

But that really wasn’t what I wanted to write about today. But what was? I’m not totally certain, although I think I wanted to write about my birthday. Which sounds really obnoxious and self-serving, but … wait, that’s what a blog is! Obnoxious and self-serving! So yes, that. But with a few deep and meaningful observations about life thrown in (and upon further reflection, maybe the above paragraphs were what I wanted to write about, but just somehow out of order).

So, about two weeks ago I turned 25. Big milestone! And one that represents about 1,000 other big milestones for me.  In a two month span, I will have both turned 25 and graduated from my graduate program. This also means that I’m currently seeking full-time employment (I’m a great archivist, hey!), which brings with it a slew of anxiety-inducing question marks.  For instance, who the heck is going to pay my rent and student loans payments? Because I’m sure as hell not equipped to take those on. Ok, I guess with a “real” job I might be able to, but those are pretty dang hard to come by these days. Here’s another example: where exactly am I going to live? Where I’d like to live is obvious (Cambridge, please and thank you), but where I can find work and where I want to live are two vastly and painfully different things. So where am I looking for work? Quite literally everywhere in the country (with the exception of Nebraska and North Dakota) and even a few international locations. The upshot of all of this is that my 25-year-iversary seemed like a death sentence as it loomed ever nearer. I was paralyzed with fear. Of age, of adulthood, of change. But then I remembered some stuff.

1. The things that scare you are always (always, always) the things you grow the most from doing. Lucky for me, you can’t opt out of aging, so I couldn’t hit the panic button and get out of this one.

2. Even if some of my life circumstances change, there is absolutely no reason that I won’t enjoy my life.

3. The worst thing that happens is that I work two part-time jobs for a while with continued aid from my family. Holy shit, could I be any more spoiled? (Well, actually yes. See future blog posts.) Seriously, what the fuck am I worried about? Chipping a nail?

Sometime around 24 hours after I turned 25 and the world didn’t end, I realized that I’ve been being a big baby (say that three times fast). Everything is going to be just fine. And if 25 isn’t the best age to be unemployed, what is? So, my job applications go on, and so does life. And isn’t 25 the perfect age to reflect on how far I’ve come? Why, yes, I believe it is! But I think I already did that earlier in this post. Suffice to say that I’m virtually unrecognizable when compared to myself of three years ago (or even two), both literally and figuratively. Year one: mental revision. Year two: world view revision. Year three: physical revision.

The nice thing about revision is that you’re never really done.

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