Since I wrote you last, travels both planned and of-the-moment have taken me to Italy, London and Los Angeles.
In that time, I’ve shared coffee with a man who I’d discover steals and sells ancient antiquities from sites of Roman ruins; scoured 140-year-old paper records for traces of my ancestors in a sleepy Southern Italian comune; beheld a bona fide Banksy in Shoreditch; signed on to teach writing webinars with an education startup based out of Tel Aviv; attended my first Premier League soccer match on England’s south coast; and shook hands with a Hollywood star.
And yet, all these moments merely scratch the surface of the internal changes I’ve been feeling, and trying to catch up with, over recent months.
If you’re anything like me, there are these phases in life where vast amounts of change, growth and evolution build with slow but certain momentum.
And it’s not like you don’t see the change coming. You can sense it. You might as well be watching the momentum build like a slow, low wave on the horizon. But it’s so far off that the sight of it never feels threatening.
In fact, you begin to take solace in seeing it; it becomes a sort of assurance.
Like a familiar face, the impending change becomes a focal point for your meditations; the subject of your journaling; the object of your contemplation. A song on the radio reminds you of the wave. A conversation with a friend brings your attention back to that source.
Sure, it’s a little uncertain what the wave of change will bring — but you trust that you’ll know when it finally arrives.
Then, one day, you’re suddenly soaking wet.
That’s the best analogy I can muster for how my inner world has been feeling lately. (Maybe you can say the same of your inner world, too.)
Because despite the highlight reel of cool, interesting, even surreal moments that I summarized for you above, I’ve found myself “suddenly soaking wet” with change that I could have told you was coming, but still somehow caught me by surprise.
After what has, in ways, been one of my more challenging years in recent memory, I find that my big plans to move down south have been washed away by the wave; that my relationship, which spanned a seven-year odyssey, was ready, and needed, to meet its final conclusion; and that, with both, my mind and heart are alternating between excitement and dread as visions of new possibilities mash against the still-withering stories of what could have been, but will never be so.
Creativity, which is the force by which all things in our world and in our lives change, feels like this.
It is never just positive and beautiful and heart-eyes-emoji. It’s also never just darkness and despair for not knowing what’s coming next. In many cases, it is equal parts light and shadow.
That’s why I can still say that life right now is very, very good — without feeling like I’m whitewashing reality, or trying to coach myself up in public. If my 10-year journey into the Creative has taught me anything, it’s that in the eyes of the Universe change is neither good nor bad; neither positive nor evil.
Change just is.
And that’s not to suggest that change can’t be tragic. Or unjust. Or without its victims, its mourning, its existential crisis.
I acknowledge that, and in addition, suggest this:
For every one part destructive, change is also, at its essence, one part creative.
There is generative energy in every breaking.
Sparks of life are born in-hand with every extinguishing flame.
Potential is reared at the altar of the no-longer-possible.
For every one part destructive, change is also one part creative. That’s why any honest dream contains within it equal parts anticipation and terror. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting a family or starting to write your first book. Freedom and uncertainty are not opposites; they are one and the same. Every possibility before us is just as likely to work out better than expected as it is likely to take us in a completely unexpected direction.
This is the nature of that cosmic equation — the unbiased creative force by which all things in our lives and in our world change.
For every desire, a sacrifice; for every loss, a renewed hope.
Me, despite my sadness and healing, I can take solace in the fact that being “suddenly soaking wet” has renewed my urgency to write to you; to check into your world; to offer some thoughts that may be worthy of your consideration.
And, despite my wanting to hole up and hide for the rest of winter, I know that in this heightened state of feeling and sensing that only heartache can bring, how wasteful it would be if I resigned myself to just staying quiet, and not trying to spin some light with it instead.
We, ourselves, are creative at our core.
We are cells and stories and stanzas constantly rewriting themselves.
It’s happening whether or not we’re talking about it; it’s happening whether or not we share it out loud.
Perhaps we shouldn’t require a suddenly-here wave of change to drench us to remember that, but if and when one such wave does hit, let this be some small encouragement to make something new, and good, and loving, out of the breaking.
Sometimes you see change coming, and it takes you by surprise, anyway.
Remember to find the creative within it.
Find in the force by which all things are reclaimed in this life the same force by which everything comes to be. Like muscle, under stress, that breaks to grow. Like “dead” trees of winter, merely sleeping, merely biding their time, to wake and flourish once more come spring.
Find the light within the darkness; not despite it.
Find the canvas, the song, the poem, that can only be born in negative space — the empty potential — where one has yet to reside.
Yours in change and growth,