I am capable.

It’s funny, what we forget during those difficult times. We can forget we’re smart, or we’re kind, or we’re capable. Growing up I knew I was all of those things. I was most proud of being capable, an independent spirit who could do things.

But somewhere along the way, I forgot this.

As the temperatures dropped this week, a wintry chill breezing into town, I was reminded I needed to get my air conditioner out of the window. Every year I wait too long. Every year. Because I have casement windows—the kind with handles that open the windows out towards the street instead of up—I have a floor air conditioner unit. The air flows out through two hoses, so holes need to be cut into the window panes.  I have one of the handymen in my building install it when it begins to warm in the spring, and I have him take it out in the winter. But I always wait too long and I spend weeks freezing in my apartment.

This week, I had the idea to take it out myself. I’d found long-forgotten covers for the holes, so I placed them after I unhooked the hoses, and then I used duct tape on the outside to plug any drafts.

It was ridiculously easy.

I am capable. I can take out my air conditioner. I can cook dinner. I can hang a picture on my wall and I can hook up a DVR.

But. Can I create a meaningful life?

I’ve been thinking about moments. The small, sweet ones that make a day. The big moments that change a life. The fleeting ones, missed, never to come back.

But there’s one in particular I keep coming back to. That moment when you stand in front of the closet and think, there is nothing in here that feels like me. This is how it begins.

Transformation.

Many years ago on these pages, I spoke of standing at the crossroads. I had begun to feel some unknowable thing, certain only that something wasn’t working. Every day I faced the hours ahead feeling like I was wearing a sweater that no longer fit, as if it were two sizes too small.

In the following years, the metaphorical clothes kept shrinking.

Soon the physical manifestation began, which I wrote about earlier this year. Clothes emerged from my closet with new holes—sometimes days upon days in a row—some on the seams (seemingly from wear, but relatively new), some moth worn. Items began ripping, reminiscent of Bruce Banner when he’s angry and about to transform into the Hulk. It began to feel comical, like someone put a weird voodoo spell on my clothes. That, or they just didn’t want to be with me any longer.

And then one day I stood in front of my closet and it occurred to me. None of this represents me. Only I didn’t know exactly what me was supposed to be.

Sometimes you don’t know how to feel, and your sense of well being wavers from minute to minute.

It’s that time when you are in between two lives.

There’s the one behind you, near enough to still see in the rear view mirror. And there’s the one you’ve longed for so long—even if you aren’t sure exactly what you long for—not yet visible.

I’ve tried to make sense of this year, with all of its twists and turns and bends where it seemed there were straight lines. I’ve tried to preemptively see the blessings in the difficulties. I’ve tried to understand what craziness was trying to tell me, where it was trying to lead me.

But you can’t do that. I know that now. You can’t jump to the end of the story without having lived through the middle.

The middle is where everything happens. This is where life is lived. This is where you find yourself.

Once, in the throes of broken-heartedness, a friend gave me a piece of advice. The only way out is through. I’ve thought of that many times this year, when things seemed so hard I just wanted to go home, crawl under the covers, and stay there for months on end.

The truth is you have to keep going. You have to drive through the storm in order to see the sun again.

The storms of this year have settled and I’m left looking at what is left.  Once the clouds parted, what I expected to see was wreckage, debris everywhere on the ground, remnants still falling from the sky. Instead, in the middle of the space in between who I was and who I will become, what I see is a vast field of empty space.

Sometimes that empty field is overwhelming. So many possibilities in the space in between.

But then I remember what I’ve always known. I am capable. And I can build whatever I want on that field.

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I can build a life of my dreams.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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