This year it’s two raised to the fifth power. Next time we cross a “bit” I’ll be sixty four years old. It’s been a year of a different flavor since last August. What have I got to say? What can I share about my life and adventures?
First of all my thirty-first year was marked by nomading across the United States, Asia, and Europe. Like the year before I rarely spent more than two weeks in a single place. I’ve been living the life of a “digital nomad,” or as I call it, “digital homeless.” The year before was marked by me running away – “I gotta get away from here…”. This year has been my chance to travel “for me;” I’ve become a collector of experiences and culture and am trying to share my collection with the people I love and miss. A good part of the beginning of 2018 I was by myself in unfamiliar places which presented significant time to think and reflect on life, on who I am, and accustom myself to silence (I’ve always had trouble with the quiet).
My months of solitude refreshed me and encouraged me; they were however personally challenging. In my thirty-first year I was able to peacefully examine some of the more painful or ugly sides of myself. I learned about some deep anxieties I have about my own self-worth and started recognizing some of the unhelpful ways I deal with them. Knowing of course is just the start of the battle and I have to continue to examine myself and strive to mature beyond these behaviors and patterns.
During this time too I started feeling bursts of thankfulness for how much I have grown and for how good God is. In countless travels I’ve been able to overcome stress and discomfort while solo; beyond that I’ve matured and grown in ways I need to. In the worst moments of my life I was a loose cannon with no real control and yet in those times I felt that God was guarding me from the most harmful decisions I was willing to make for myself. I can look back and know that when I was weak God came to my aid when I was running away from him and that has saved me – saved me from making choices that would bring me the greatest regret later on. The Bible repeats a picture of who God is: someone who takes us back after every fall and after every offense. All he wants is for us to turn and come back to him. I’ve repeatedly made mistakes and repeatedly made bad decisions and yeah I have deep regrets, but I know a form of love that covers even the worst of me and that is a powerful thing.
Among my ups and downs I persevered while on my own. I’ve had moments I regret and moments I’m proud of – little victories. I persevered through frequent bouts of depression and persevered on the personal journey I’ve chosen for myself. A constant longing for companionship evokes in me a sense of homesickness and a reminder that I have no home to which to return, but I’ve persevered through it. I’ve spent a reasonable part of the past year planning how I will combat that longing and establish the routine and community around me which I need for my own health. Every day as I question myself and wonder, “how can I change myself?” I’m reminded that any real change happens by consistent and vigilant perseverance to that goal. Every victory a reminder of hope, every failure a chance to repent and press on again.
Unfortunately I often find myself angry and I don’t understand why. I admire how some people are able to navigate through difficult projects at work, through stressful times in life, and through rough interactions with others while staying peaceable and happy. My hope is that when thirty-three comes around I’ll look back and see that I have been able to find ways to relieve stress better that don’t leave me so frustrated on the inside. How do I tone down my passion? How do I let go of things that confuse me? How can a train my mind to be more accepting and not get stuck on ideological hangups?
Unexpectedly during thirty-one I gained a new grandmother and an entire family. Thanks to the miracle of modern genetic sequencing and social networks on the internet my mother, adopted at birth, connected for the first time with her biological mother. This revelation has profoundly impacted her and me and all the family. The family has been accepting and many have reached out to us all. It’s hard to explain the emotion. People who were complete strangers are rapidly trying to share their love and learn about my mom, about me, about my nieces and nephew. For someone with a skewed understanding of “family” at best this has been a kind of healing balm. I don’t know why these people want to know me but it warms my heart that they do.
What then are my biggest goals for thirty-two?
My anxiety is probably my worst vice. It leads me to a paranoid place where I expect people who love me to unexpectedly reject me. It also leads me to act out in ways inconsistent with who I want to be. I need to work through this with professional help and figure out how to escape it.
It may be highly intertwined but that anger needs to go too or it will burn me up. A few times over I have learned that the cure for this kind of ailment is gratitude. Despite some obvious major regrets I have much for which to be thankful and glad. I want to feel that thankfulness instead of frustration from a sense of powerlessness.
Nomading is something I’m not ready to give up but after a couple years of hitting it hard I’m wearing out. I want to establish a home base where I feel at home, involve myself with a community, and settle to some extent without giving up the travel outright. This past year was my most-traveled year full of one-way journeys but I’d like the next one to be quieter and take more return journeys.
What were the highlights of thirty-three?
Hm, you’ll probably want to wait for my 2018 year-in-review post around the new year 😉.
I’m still around and kicking and I consider that a highlight. I’m learning how to be content and continue to force myself to face my biggest challenges and fears. While that’s difficult in the extreme it’s also worthwhile. This past year may have been the first time in years that I’ve felt like that work is starting to pay off. You can call me a hypocrite and you’d be right, but I haven’t given up yet and I don’t have any plans to do so either.