I thought it would be louder. When I chose ‘audacity’ as my word for 2019, I pictured a kind of bold bravery that wouldn’t be able to help but shake off all the dust from previous 730 days, a kind of fervor for life that would remind me what it means to be alive after loss, would push me forward instead of comforting me here, feeling stuck. Just as I’m wrapping up the six month of this lens for the year, there’s one thing I know for sure: audacity can find you in many more ways than its often larger than life usage would suggest, and one of those ways is through slowness, and silence, and it’s been the quietest gift I ever could have given myself.
I stopped saying “fill-in-the-date” was a hard year, because I grew weary and annoyed with myself that they seemed to be stacking up. I was exhausted with defining it all as being tough, but also unwilling to paint it pretty and pretend it’d all been okay, so I think I thought that after a year of ‘grace’ in 2018 - a year of reminding to be a little kinder to myself and the world, that carrying audacity close would, as my mom would say, help me to “buck up”, at least just a little. I needed a good swift kick in the rear to reset things a bit, and a word this weighted with power and varied usage was just the thing. I needed to be reminded of who I was beyond the neat checklists I’d been gathering and tallying these past few years, and what better to get you outside of your own head than a word defined as “a willingness to take bold risks”?
It’s easy, I know now, to confuse and conflate bold and brave with loud and productive. It’s also easy to confuse and conflate productive with purposeful, and purposeful with meaningful, but we’ll get back to that later. What I know is that I wanted a year of being more myself, of taking next steps, and what I’ve gotten so far is exactly that, but my steps have been in place, and my “self” has been very, very quiet, and that doesn’t look anything like I’d planned.
Without meaning to, the permission I’ve ended giving myself this year was to slow down, to have the audacity to, instead of figuring it all out and moving forward, make momentum where I was, where I am; I gave myself permission to find a rhythm in the steps that keep me here, not standing still, but in place. I offered myself just enough slowness that somewhere inside the more patient pace, what really matters to me, my curiosities and creativity, began taking up more space again.
There is nothing more beautiful that when our curiosities and creativity take the space they need inside us, and even more so when they come spilling out.
Making all this possible, the quietness, hasn’t been the easiest, though I’d argue there wasn’t much choice in the matter. When you make your livelihood from what you create, the content you are constantly imagining, making, sharing, slowing down that release puts a pinch in places, and sacrifices were made to make this year possible. Me from a year or two ago would have laughed off the possibility, would have showed you the budgets, the lists, the reasons why taking my time would be a luxury we couldn’t afford, but me from today, six months in, will tell you that there are some things in life you cannot afford to go without, and on the list of food, shelter, and love, I’ve added peace of mind. Sure, it may sound like a privileged list item, because it is in some ways, and an item that not everyone can take for themselves all the time, but when you find something that matters, when you realize that hey, I need my sanity over safety right now (and by safety I mean that cushy form of “here are all of the soft places to land I’ve built up around me to keep me safe from fear, and also trap me in this comfy cave”), suddenly it becomes very important to make it happen, no matter how scary, no matter the cost.
I have a sneaky suspicion that the next six months aren’t going to be as quiet as these first. All of the seeds I’ve planted and watered are growing, the roots have given new shape to my feet as they move, and lately, just over these past few weeks, I’ve been feeling the leaves unfurl and the flowers bloom inside me, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that when goodness grows, there’s no holding it back.
This random dream I’ve had for some time, the one that came to fruition in my mind last year, but wasn’t ready yet, well, it turns out it just needed time. Time! Who’d have thought it? Turns out we don’t need to rush everything, that some things do just need to make their own way, as they are. I guess we’re all a little like that, aren’t we?
I wanted a life this year that could be as big or as small as I needed it to be, and while I assumed that big would be the case, these small six months have meant so much to me. They’ve been uncomfortable and unknown, and I’ve had to metaphorically sit on my hands more times than not when I wanted to default to my quick fix-it ways, but even through all of it, through the feeling all of it instead of fleeing from all of it, I’ve been grateful. The next step, as I knew it would be last November when I wrote out and shared my word, is to let the extravagant hope I’ve been carrying close loose a little; it’s time to to get ready to share.