“Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.”
~ Excerpt from The Autumn, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1833)
Fall came overnight; the all-too-hot and humid, glaring summer noons transformed into chilly mornings and breezy evenings. All of a sudden, the air is sharper and carries the scent of bonfires and autumn leaves. It finally feels like September and sweater weather.
The weekend was a good one, full of concerts and time with friends, morning coffee, and runs in the park. A lot of thinking time too…What are your dreams? Your goals? What can you see yourself doing down the road, in one year, in five years? These were all questions that I turned over and over in my head all this week, like stones rolling endlessly one over the other, one impossible avalanche of I don’t know. How terrible is that? That I don’t know. Life has settled into a routine here, and in some ways, this is good. Routine is familiarity, comfort. Class is: I need to be here at this time and this place. Practicing is: I know I need to work on this technique and that piece for the day. Scales, always, to start; often in the same order – my fingers reaching for minor and major arpeggios like old familiar friends. Oh, there you are, they say, when they fail to reach an octave, a third, a sixth. You were close by, you were there all along. There’s discipline and structure in practicing, and sometimes, there’s spontaneity, like when you play Bach the entire time and really should be working on that piece you have play for your lesson tomorrow. And yet it’s still familiar, still routine. There’s an end goal in mind with each practice session. It’s just a daily goal, but the presence of it is so reassuring. For that period of time, I don’t need to make any decisions about anything other than what I want to work on next.
I fear that I have gotten so comfortable with routine that I’ve forgotten to explore who I really am. My dreams, and my goals. I can identify my insecurities, but I fail to see how they make me a better person. Which, ironically, is an insecurity in itself. How can I be comfortable in who I am? Should I be okay with the pieces of me that are jagged and messy and hesitant? I have my bucket-list dreams, of course: ride in a hot-air balloon, visit Lisbon, learn to surf, run a marathon. Go on a missions trip. Sail in Maine. But can you live a life on bucket-list dreams? There’s practicality to be considered. A job. I know how I want to live; I just don’t know how to fill in the gaps.
Maybe the goal is to simply make a difference with your life – to have it matter that you lived, and lived well. Passionately and fully and whole-heartedly. I find myself sinking into the same old routine, feeling the day-after-day grind of things, and maybe it’s because I feel like I’m still waiting for my life to start, for me to find someone to make me happy, waiting, waiting to be just a little bit older, a little bit wiser. But now is the time to live, to appreciate, to be happy enough. I want to dream in colour, but I feel as if I’m living in black and white. There are so many dreams to have in this life and in this world, and I want so much to be a part of something that gives me purpose and helps others in some way. I just don’t know what that will be yet. I have to be okay with a musing heart for now, and remember what Ben Folds sang at his birthday concert this weekend: “You’re capable of anything.”
It’s a good song for a new week.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
~ Eric Roth