the other day i dreamt about pencils. they were three different mechanical pencils that i spotted as i was walking by a table. i picked them up, felt the weight of them in my hand, noticed the variations–color! translucence! erasers! ridges!–and wondered at the ways that humans have managed to transform simple writing implements into beasts. when i was done, i put all three pencils in my pocket and walked away. the end.
i woke up feeling a mixture of indignation and amusement. wahhhh that was so boring! what was the point of that?! i don’t even use pencils wahhh! and then i remembered that two years ago i regularly woke up with inch long scratches on my arms from dream crime fighting. for nine months, every time i closed my eyes i transformed into the victim of a grisly murder. next to a dream within a dream in which i’m killed in a bathtub and then “wake up” only to die again, three pencils is kinda nice (if on the dull side).
i believe the point of that (totally boring) story was to illustrate that i’ve been trying to practice serenity. and what i mean by this is that i’m learning to appreciate stillness, to be present, even when it means embracing the parts of life and love that are unenticing. this is no easy task, folks. growing up, i didn’t have any cool kid toys so i spent my time watching pbs shows and reading books that instilled in me (mid)westward expansion dreams and a desire to churn butter. i learned to keep myself up for hours every night with pioneer girl adventures and made up games and little kid theorizing. you know that feeling when your mind won’t turn off even though you’re telling it to shutupshutupshutup, and it’s exclaiming, i’m your imagination! i just want to be wild and free! i stumble into that space all the time.
especially during lulls, i’ve been known to hop on the crazy train and ride it to the last stop, sometimes staying on and letting it loop back around. no, my mind won’t shut up and my body will not stay still. i like movement. i like to fight crime and tell stories about it after. i want to churn butter!!! in work, love, play, and organizing, i tend to dive deep, come up for air, and then move on. a few months ago, in an attempt to break the pattern, i decided to stay planted in baltimore. i even started a blog post about it:
it’s true; i am the kind of person who runs. my friends are used to my flitting around and chasing opportunities that bring me far from home for long stretches of time. i’m young. i’ve spent the last five years living life in terms of semesters, bouncing from place to place every three months or so. i’ve always been the kind of person who could define myself by my work, who only took jobs that i loved and let myself be consumed by them.
but maybe now i want to be the kind of person who learns how to walk with stilts and make soap on the weekends. the kind of person who has time to eat brunch and go for runs.. who learns languages and cooks dishes for potlucks. maybe i wanna be the kind of person who loves as hard as she works and has time for side hustles. maybe i wanna be the kind of person who sticks around.
without getting into how successful i’ve been at doing any of these things (short answer: mostly not), i have to say that now i’m antsy. can you be still even as you are going balls to the wall? can you practice serenity when all you want to do is fuck shit up and dance? how much of me can stay planted and present while the rest makes cross-country moves? can’t i stilt walk and make soap in california? would i love less fiercely if i left?
two years from now, would i rather be telling the story of my inception-style bathtub murder or remembering the time i found three pencils? can’t they be part of the same story?