to me, from curiosity: a love letter
You’re so young. Human years really aren’t many in the span of this planet’s existence. Not many at all. A speck, really. Essentially, that’s what you are. A tiny speck, both in the realm of the physical world and that of time.
Despite how fragile and fleeting you are, I know some people who will be mean to you. Maybe you know them already: Obligation, Judgment, Perfection, and, their ringleader, Fear. They tell you you’re supposed to follow the timeframe that’s expected of a modern life. By this age, you should probably start dating. By this age, you should want to find a career and stick to it. Then, you should get married. Of course, babies should eventually follow. You definitely need a group of friends to keep forever. You should achieve monetary and relational security sometime after age thirty. Good girl. Good boy. Success.
The people who tell you to follow this timeframe are the same ones who might make you feel like the world hangs on your choices. As if it is imperative that you commit yourself to a lifelong career, a family, a physical location, a way of life. Sure, explore a bit while you’re young, but the goal is to prepare yourself to sit down and get comfortable for the long haul. You better hurry up and figure it out, too, because all the other successful people are doing it, and look at how happy they are. Don’t get left behind. Don’t get left alone.
I invite you to release yourself from their model. As writer and friend Elizabeth Gilbert says, these impositions, “They’re not organic, and you feel to me like a person of great organic ethic. You know that you have within you an ethic that’s your own. I want you to try to unlatch that as much as possible from the inhumane machinery of contemporary American time.”
That organic ethic—that’s my jam. That’s my voice, deep inside of you, every time you think, “I wonder…” Every time you decide to do something just to know, to see, to feel what it’s like. I nudge you to interact with new people, to ask uncomfortable questions, to sit in stillness when anxiety tells you to flee in search of distraction. And I hold your hand the whole time.
I’ll be honest, people often tell me my voice sounds childish. It’s sort of true. I mean, most of my closest friends are children. Adults don’t like to hang out with me for very long. But kids are full of vitality and love for me, because Fear and the gang haven’t yet convinced them I’m not cool enough to hang out with. But from what I can see, the kids’ table always seems to have way more fun than the adults’ table anyway, and we certainly know how to live joyfully in our bodies and in the present.
Because you, my friend, are little more than a teeny pebble in the scope of our world, you don’t have to carry the burden of success, whatever that even means (I must’ve skipped the day of school when Fear and the gang learned about “success”). You can’t ruin the world. You simply don’t have the capacity to singlehandedly make or break the outcome of humankind on planet earth. Maybe you’ve thought about picking up this burden. Don’t do it. If you’ve done it, put it down. Take a step back. Another step.
Now, come dance with me instead.