I accomplished a lot in my twenties, at least on paper. I wrote books, bought a farm, quit my day job and chased the American Dream into a corner until I smote it with my Stubbornness. I'm proud of this and of everything Cold Antler has become. But you need to realize that what I share here is such a small part of my story, and keep in mind the words of Stephen Levine: "Every person I meet with their shit together is usually standing in it."
Keep that in mind.
My twenties were the vehicle that brought me to where I currently stand, shit and all. I am grateful for them, grateful for all of this. But when I look back at where I was twenty, sitting in a dorm room with a Jetta parked outside in the student lot, reading issues of Comm Arts while trying to memorize serif fonts for a TYpography test to...well, my thirtieth Birthday? Today I'm going to bring a rare breed British dream pony to my own farm in upstate New York. The lines of connection between there and here involve five states, three jobs, and two broken hearts.
I woke up this morning, started a pot of coffee, and wrote a thousand words for my current manuscript between chores and dog walks. I spent time outside feeding baby turkeys, watching a chick follow her mother to the feeder, held a 6-week-old bunny in my hands, milked a happy goat, and then sank into my hammock with a bottle to feed Monday. I felt the chill morning wind on my bare legs and unshod feet. I was swaying in a plaid sun dress, a baby in my arms...
That is exactly what happened this morning and to many of us that sounds like paradise, but this farm is just one piece of the story. I fell asleep the night before crying. These past three years have been the hardest of my life, and not because of bucking hay bales. They've been hard because I spent most of my twenties, and all of my years writing this blog, dealing with anxiety, body issues, fear, and guilt. I lost people I thought I would never lose. I aimed too high, shot too far, and lost some arrows. It happens. I hope it happens less as I get older.
I think my story is no different than anyone else's. Our twenties are about becoming the adult we want to be. They are about finding your footing, getting established, taking risks and falling in love. We make mistakes, learn from them, and hopefully figure out the important distance between guilt and regret.
For my birthday I am giving myself the best gift I can, and it isn't a pony. I'm allowing myself to let go of that decade's ghosts and just be happy. I have all the ingredients, all the abilities to do this. I really believe it's a choice you have to make every single day. To wake up, accept yourself and your life, and choose to be a positive, grateful, useful, and kind part of the world instead of a detractor from others. I want to surround myself with encouragement instead of competition. I want to protect myself from anyone else's fear, guilt, or anger. I want to learn to heal up broken pieces of myself with the long, black, mane of a good horse and my arms around a good dog, and maybe, just maybe, if I let enough light in, a good man.
As for those things that keep me up at night? Well, I'm sure they still will, at least for a while. But as time and good things come to pass you forget middle names and dates of import and you focus on what is in your own hands instead. You focus on good work, and creativity, and make it your goal everyday to make someone else smile, make their life a little easier, and tell people you love them that you do. Tell them over and over because no one can hear that too many times. No one.
In my thirties I want aim true, shoot the proper distances, and lose less arrows in the tall grass. I want to love myself, and others, and find out what it is like to live in this world without looking over your shoulder at the things I can't change. It will take time, but I think the effort will be worth it. I hope you stick around to see it all happen, keep reading, keep encouraging, and I will do the same. Much to come folks, much.
Fireflies, thunderstorms, and crows in pairs,