See this photo above? That’s me in the fall of 1985.
I was 2.
Now? Now it’s the fall of 2017. And I’m 34. Just crossed that 3-4 line this week (not today, though, on this oh-so-very-fun Friday the 13th in October). And I have to say, just the mere thought of this age puts things into perspective, through quite a clear lens.
I remember the shed in this picture well. Seated and tucked neatly into the backwoods of my suburban youth home, I remember its rusted hinges and weathered doors, its interior spider webs and aromatic must, its imaginary creatures I feared lurked within (namely those bastard spiders). It was the very essence of Autumn New England, the very essence of cool and dry October dusk.
That shed is long gone. And, quite honestly, so is that version of me. The core of him, that thing that makes each of us, well, us, yes that’s still there. The soul never goes away, it remains, but it changes, of course, and in human form becomes weathered, like the shed itself. Though, unlike that shed, I don’t believe my hinges are rusted and I sure as hell don’t feel filled with webs and alien spiders.
My point in all this is that in the 32 years since this photo was taken, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience one hell of a roller coaster ride. Plenty of ups and downs, lots of experience with grief and death, but also, thankfully, with love and birth. Time is a strange myriad thing. I have three kids now, two of whom are older than I am in this photo, which gives me pause and puts the lens into even greater focus.
Here’s the kicker — at 34, I’m just NOW starting to understand myself as a person, what drives me, why I perceive the world the way I do (I’m an introvert, or if you want to slap some more labels on, I also fall into the INFP and HSP groups).
And one of the biggest, clearest things I’ve learned to date (and continue to learn) is that the biggest battle I’ve ever fought, or will ever fight, is an internal one, a silent internal war, the likes of which no one else will ever really understand. The battle, of course, is always with the inner bastard that takes many forms (Fear, Self-Doubt, The Lizard Brain, Resistance, the Self-Deprecation Dragon, etc.).
It has taken me more than three decades to understand and identify this part of myself, and while it’s easy to refer to this presence as an enemy, one that consistently works to oppose any efforts toward change or evolvement, it is, I believe, more accurate to refer to it as a guide or a teacher. Its whole purpose is to challenge us, to push back on us hard and incessantly so that we can either hide or rise above and move forward.
This might sound simplistic to some, but for me, this was nothing short of revelatory to understand, and has only just become clear in the past year or two. This blog is a direct result of some progress on my end, but rest assured I have a long way to go before I’m done here (and I don’t expect I’ll ever be “done” completely).
And so, here I stand, looking out ahead at another year of open space and wondering what will come, but I’m actually tired of wondering where the train will lead me.
I’m more interested in driving the train. And as I learn the mechanics of it, and move forward, I simply want to send out a massive THANK YOU to all of those who have read this blog, signed up for updates or to receive my newsletter, or even just scanned the site to see what the hell I’m babbling about.
This thanks extends to friends, family, the universe as a whole — everything. I’m eternally grateful to be where I am and to have come to realize where I want to go as a writer and as a person.
Cheers to you.