This is the end of comfort as we know it. This is the age of the unsettled, the era of the disquiet, and we will tremble, falter, fade, get lost, grow strong, and find ourselves all over again. In this way, we will become expert revisionists on this journey and the road will have variations. We will navigate without a compass or a map, feeling our way through the dark, which threatens to swallow us whole, and sometimes we think ourselves mad for even having gone down this path when there’s this other place that’s well-lit, familiar. Just down the road. The proprietor is an older version of us, with a monstrous gait and a face paled down to bone. This version of us is cruel when it takes us by the hair and whispers, Why risk it?
But we pull away, walk away and do. Risk it, that is.
Because the alternative is a slow, deliberate slouch to the grave, heart aching from the weight of all that we could have done had we had the strength to. Had we had the bravery. It’s funny to watch fear and uncertainty go at it, gloves off, punches below the belt as it were. Our own private opera played out in all its grandeur. It’s a fight we pay good money to see, although, for the most part, we know how the story ends. Fear almost always wins out and we go home, empty popcorn bag in hand, salt on our lips, and we settle into a life of safety. Because why risk it?
But! But! There comes a day when the story ends differently. Uncertainty has got a bit of fight left in her and although she takes her fair share of hits, she’s victorious and the crowd thunders. Our hearts pause and the clocks stop ticking. Outside, snow tumbles from the black sky, and the whole of our world is illuminated. In that rare moment we see light in the context of our darkness. We see a glimpse of our life.
Last week I sat in a chair and told a man that I wanted to feel unsettled, to which he responded, I haven’t heard anyone say that in a long, long time.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I wandered through the galleries and found this quote when entering the Matisse exhibit: For Matisse, the process of creation was not simply a means to an end but a dimension of his art that was as important as the finished work. On a wall, in script, a quote from George Bellows reads: Try everything that can be done. Be deliberate. Be spontaneous. Be thoughtful and painstaking. Be abandoned. Be impulsive. Learn your own possibilities.
Over eggs, roasted tomatoes and Tuscan toast at Gemma, an old colleague turned friend and I talk about getting out of our comfort zone. We hatch plans involving our cameras, new friends and perspective.
I can’t but help but think that all signs point to the light. Even when I’m surrounded by a Greek chorus of dark. The chorus pantomimes that I’m crazy, what am I thinking, what are you walking away from, what if you can’t get another job after you’ve resigned from this one, what if, what if, what if, tick, tic, ti, t,…
Keep following the signs, I tell myself. They’re there. They’re small, innocuous, playing on a minor key, but they are a map of constellations that will lead me back to a better version of myself. To a life that is meant to be loved and lived and loved all over again.