End of summer

The last two weeks, I've walked home with a growing anticipation of fall. By the end of summer, I usually feel like a wrung-out dishcloth, so autumn is always a welcome reprieve. But this summer has been different, milder in ways that go beyond the weather, and I've loved it. On Thursday, I lingered longer in the ravine, sitting under the trees and I felt a strange and not unwelcome sadness that summer is ending.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know these walks have shaped my days this summer. But I've wondered if stepping back from the blog has also helped me be more present in my world. And, coupled with that, the feelings that I wrote about in my last post. I've increasingly come to think that what makes me happy isn't necessarily loving myself, but simply knowing who I am.

While my own days have been green and easy, the world has become so hard of late. I don't think it's appropriate for me to try to wrap my arms around news like Gaza and Ferguson and Ukraine in some blog post because these discussions are the opposite of neat end-of-summer discussions. But that doesn't mean that my heart and mind aren't stunned by what we're still living through. There are days when I walk home and despite the verdancy of my Instagram pictures, I feel world weary. 


"The best piety is to enjoy - when you can. You are doing the most to save earth's character as an agreeable planet. And enjoyment radiates. It is of no use to try and take care of all the world; that is being taken care of when you feel delight - in art or in anything else" - George Eliot, Middlemarch

Which is all to say that we're lucky to live with that duality; where our hearts are ripped asunder but we still go on living out pretty days, with coffee and walks and phases of the moon on your mind. It's easy to think people who aren't constantly warbling about issues on social media aren't engaged with what's happening. It's too easy to admonish people for carrying on with their pretty little lives while others share the headlines that cut things in two. But the complex ways we each decide to carry on, or just to irreconcilably vacillate between carrying on and feeling and thinking and doing, are not always visible; not always worn like badges or shared in blog posts or tweets.

And the over-riding truth is that life does goes on and we each find our way of caring and being engaged that also let us assert our own lives, with all their silly and serious wonder. And somehow, I find myself thinking, isn't that the point of all this anyway? So, here's to a fall full of golden and gorgeous wonder and hopefully happier news.

August

This summer has been a good time too for me to take a step back from my blog. There's a quietness in me now that I think is probably connected with age. But letting go of that habit of feeding the blog machine has allowed me to dig deep into my days and really feel it all.

So many things seems suddenly simpler. I see that I've got so much and I want less. I've been living somewhat frugally and it has made me reset that spending instinct. Not constantly looking at stuff helps too. We think we can look at products with abstract admiration (I like to think we can too). But it does also create and perpetuate this gulf; what I have, what others have. Sometimes the only way to quiet that is to stop with the looking and admiring of what others have.

And it's funny that when you stop looking regularly, the stuff becomes boring to look at occasionally. I flip through lifestyle content now and find myself entirely outside of it and unaroused by it, when before it used to fuel and fizzle in me.

That said, my sense of acceptance is also connected with a sense of accomplishment. I'm no longer starting from scratch and building something out of nothing. I look around my home and it feels right; not necessarily planned top-down, but every thing is a decision I made, an object I fell in love with. To want to undo and redo that because of some interior spread would feel like a kind of identity-stripping extreme makeover.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't have much appetite for reinvention these days and that drains a lot of the allure of lifestyle content, which seems to deliberately make us want to be wholly other.

And this isn't just about home decor, but fashion and body too. I'm altogether less hung up on the seemingly innate idea that one day I'll be emerge into something I wasn't before. I'm more interested in how walking to and from work every day makes me immediately feel than how it makes me look. I've let go of the unrealistic expectations of all of it; expectations fuelled by magazines and by comparing myself too much to others.

Like I said, this feels connected to age. I notice myself becoming more and more invisible and, in some respects, that's freeing. But I suspect this has more to do with my own eyes than with those watching or not watching me. I've finally realized that self-consciousness that gets in the way of doing the simplest things is a juvenile feeling for a woman in her late thirties. That letting myself grow up in this one regard outweighs all the dreaded things about aging.

I've also been thinking about being single and all of this. I'm still learning to live on my own, which is strange because I've been alone a long time now. But it's not what I expected for myself when I was young and there's still that voice that measures present me against what past me expected, even if that's an outdated idea. I know more and more that coupledom isn't for me; that I would contort like heated metal under the expectations and pressures of it, that I would break it because I was afraid of losing myself in it.

And so the summer I've felt all of this. Some of it as a burden and some of it as the most liberating idea. Sometimes, I've felt something like resignation or excess resistance in all of this and I've worried that I'm cheating myself somehow. But mostly, I feel like I'm accepting and letting go of voices external and internal, real and perceived, that tell me I would be better if I were otherwise.