Fade to Grey

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I am an only child, but I have siblings. I am a strong, capable, independent woman, but I am currently fully dependent on my male partner. I have a group of friends and family who I love so deeply I still see them around every corner, nearly seven years after I left them for a new destination. I cried so hard at the airport that day that I lost my breath and ran out of tears. But I still got on the plane. I call Utah home, but London is equally as comforting for different reasons, and although my physical home is currently in Oman, I spend most of my days looking forward to my next home, a place I have never lived and have only been to once.

My life is complicated. Life is complicated.

And yet I have developed a habit of seeing the world in black and white, good and bad, true or false. Fully accepting life’s inherent complexity and uncertainty takes a level of bravery and stamina I haven’t taken the time to thoroughly develop. Sitting calmly amidst paradoxes and dichotomies takes a level of academic confidence I lack. Kneading out the grains of truth from a sticky ball of life takes skill and dexterity, and for whatever reason I have been utterly unwilling to get my hands messy.

Instead, I often twist and turn a complicated reality, contorting it until it fits into a binary mold. Then I operate under those conditions and throw a small fit when this doesn’t lead to that but leads to the other instead. I want to know it all and I want to know that I know it all. Not so that I can boast of my intelligence or capability, but so that I don’t have to experience perplexity or confusion about what will happen in my future or the role my past played in getting me there. I want life to be packaged up neatly with a big fluffy bow and I want it to have a hand-calligraphed card on it saying:

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I want life to be simple. I want it to be easily understood through the stark contrasts of black and white, high and low, yes and no.

But do I, really? Would I truly enjoy living in a world so lacking in nuance and subtlety. Swimming around a fish bowl every day is binary. Swim or stay still. Eat or don’t eat. Live or die. Fine for a fish, perhaps, but it comes up lacking for this complicated human.

I revel in the depth and complexity of the people I love, slowly learning more about them over time, wrapping myself in more and more levels of their love in return. I delight in the scientific discoveries that constantly make our world a more fascinating place to be, all because of its seemingly endless complexity. I even seek out the discordant trill of uncertainty, the vibration that tells me I am at the edge of my comfort zone and things could get much more interesting from here on out.

You see, I do appreciate complexity and uncertainty, so long as they stay where they belong: in the realm of intellectual pursuits and high adventure. They are not regularly invited into the boring, mundane considerations of my day-to-day existence. There I am uninterested in accepting any messiness or confusion.

But if day-to-day life isn’t complicated, I don’t know what is. And I don’t know what “life” consists of except the chain of ordinary days strung between intermittent moments of purposeful adventure. It is in this realm of the absolutely ordinary where I am working to accept that nothing can be broken down into two simple possibilities and that, instead of seeing reality as a stark contrast of black and white, I need to appreciate, and even relish, its beautiful and infinite shades of grey.

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You Are Here

http://dornob.com/you-are-here-3-real-life-works-of-digital-map-inspired-art/

Apparently some really nerdy (aka awesome) artists do projects based on digital map graphics. Check out more here.

You are here.

For the last few months this has been a kind of mantra for me, something I go back to when I am feeling lost or overwhelmed. It centers me and reminds me of my place in the world, the space I take up in it. It gives me perspective. It gives me freedom. It makes me appreciate what is around me and it makes me feel like I’m part of something that matters. Plus, it’s map nerd-ery – always a bonus in my eyes.

You are here reminds me that I take up space in the world – actual, physical space. That I am part of the world – glued to it by gravity, breathing it in, pooping it out. No matter how much time I spend in my head, the reality is that I am here, physically present in the world, taking part in it and sharing it with everyone else –  even on the days I wish I wasn’t.

You are here reminds me that the space I take up is a space that no one else can. I am the only collection of these molecules and these experiences in all of time and space (Maybe. I guess statistically and astrophysically speaking there might be another one of me. I’d really like to meet her). At moments that perspective makes me feel entitled, but more often it makes me feel like part of a much bigger picture. It makes me feel a responsibility to respect the fact that I am here, that I do exist, that I have a presence and that it’s my job to make the most of it. It makes me very grateful.

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You are here reminds me that I have choice. I imagine myself on one of the walks I did in London and remember the excitement and overwhelming sense of curiosity I felt when I came to an intersection full of streets I’d never seen before. You are here means I have the choice. At any given time, in any given part of my life, I am always standing at the intersection of choice. I can dive into whichever option looks the most appealing or exciting to me at that exact moment. That’s insanely liberating.

You are here reminds me not to push myself too hard. I want to be really good at everything and I very regularly compare myself to people who are way ahead of me in the game (based on my completely arbitrary calculation) – much to my emotional detriment. You are here reminds me that everything is a process, that I am where I am at, no more, no less. Sometimes I can settle into that, be comfortable being where I am. Other times it causes ridiculous frustration. But you are here is a fact. It’s a reality check. It doesn’t judge or enable. It just is. You just are. You can’t argue with it, which I find huge relief in.

You are here reminds me that there is no competition in life, there is no final destination to which we are all running, trying to beat each other along the way. There really isn’t. There are billions of us, all with our own goals, prospects and concepts of success and achievement. There is no race, there is no competition, therefore there is no need for comparison. I am where I am at. You are where you are at. We are. We can help each other out or share our story, but we are not going the same places. And that’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing, maybe the most important thing, because you are here reminds me that I am not alone. I am one pin on the map. One person moving around, living my life, trying to improve myself and the lives of the people around me. I take up the space I take up, I am a unique individual with my own set of choices and challenges. But so is everyone else. We are all doing the same thing. We are all finding our way, making our mark on the map. When I zoom out and see it all, when I let myself be one tiny dot in the confetti of beautiful people living perfectly ordinary lives, I get a true sense of what it actually means to be.

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