Hey, do you guys remember that time that I drove by an old farm house on a random Monday afternoon, and then 6 hours later bought it online, while sitting in a bar, without ever having walked inside? Yeah. That pretty much sums up my year.
Crazy. Unexpected. Fantastic. Exhausting.
To be completely honest, I have a hard time writing about it. I think how much random chance– how much risk, and providence, and blind faith (or maybe blind optimism)– got me to the place where I’m sitting right now, and this feeling of retroactive panic bubbles up in my chest. Because while I can’t imagine my life any other way, the truth is that this isn’t how I planned it. That’s difficult for someone who may or may not be a little bit of a control-freak (ahem) to accept– that the best thing that happened in my life this year wasn’t something I thought through, planned out, or expected. It wasn’t even something I had a whole lot of control over.
And– here’s another bit of truth for you– it simultaneously saved me and wrecked me. Any balance I’d found in my life in that short span of time between houses was washed away in a tidal wave of work. Of patching, and siding, and roofing, and trying not to think mean things about the appraiser. I embraced that hard, sweaty, can’t-think-about-anything-but-trying-to-move-half-a-barn-into-a-dumpster-by-myself work more than I might have, because it gave me a way to disconnect from the emotional intensity of my life over the last year.
I’m sure it comes as a huge shock that “emotional intensity” isn’t on the list of things I do well (unless you mean emotionally and intensely swearing at my tools when things don’t go my way, in which case, yes, that I can do.) One of the big lessons for me this year was that if you disconnect from the difficult things in life, you’re also disconnecting yourself from the good things. In a lot of ways, I’ve been stronger, more productive, more capable, and more creative in 2012 than in any other year, but I’ve also felt oddly numb– as if I’m half-heartedly watching my life on a TV screen instead of actually living it.
I feel like it’s important to say this–to be honest about it–because, in general, we tend to edit the difficult and uncomfortable things out of our stories. And that’s okay. The beauty of being able to tell our own story is that we get to write it however we want, but what is most important to me is that I’m being authentic. I don’t want to glorify any part of my life, or make it seem like something it’s not. This year I threw my time, energy, and attention into the house, and some really wonderful things came from that, but I probably didn’t feel as much joy, happiness, and satisfaction from the work, because, in all honesty, I’ve kind of been avoiding myself as a person. It wasn’t about me, it was about the house, the next project, the 734 other things on my to-do list. Which isn’t to say it hasn’t been a wild and fantastic journey… I mean, you all know I’m having an absolute blast with this house, it’s just that our relationship has been a little one-sided this year.
Yes, I just admitted to having a dysfunctional relationship with my house. That’s normal.
The house and I are not going to couples counseling, but this has shaped my goal for 2013, which is to be more connected. More connected to myself, to the work, to the difficult and awesome things in my life, and especially to all of the truly fantastic people who support and inspire me, and make me laugh.
By all accounts this is going to be another big, crazy, challenging, fantastic year. It won’t be easy (and, really, that would be boring anyway) but here’s to the most difficult parts of 2013 also being the best parts.