Friday afternoon, I sat on my couch, looked around the apartment, and marvelled.
I had just returned home from running an errand which had been tacked on to my return after meeting a friend for lunch. Before that I had gone to the gym, and run another errand.
As I looked around the apartment, I beamed at the clean surfaces and floor. I looked over to the front hall and knew it was free of drying clothes as I had put them all away the day earlier. I looked to the kitchen and knew that my dinner for the evening was already prepared.
I felt completely in control. And I felt proud.
I was also not quite sure what to do. I debated working on an online course, but it did not feel pressing. I knew I had the whole next day available, and the day after that.
In the end, I settled on to my couch and started watching Netflix.
And that was how the first message found me.
It was a completely innocent message, an invitation, a request for a relatively small commitment of my time.
I stared at it for a while, and sighed to myself, thinking that it was not a possibility. I was doing so well, I would hate to ruin it. I needed to be smart. To be careful. I could not take on more than I could handle.
And then the second message arrived.
This one was an email, offering only a meeting, but with the potential to lead to a bigger investment. It was from someone I had wanted to talk to, from a place with which I wanted to be involved.
But while I felt tempted, I already felt a determined disappointment. It would be irresponsible for me to overload myself, as I have done in the past. It would be foolish to let my desires topple the house of cards I have so diligently been building.
I turned back to the television screen, but soon found myself preoccupied and unable to focus.
I couldn’t help but be aware of how quickly I had dismissed the possibilities those two messages had presented. No real thought or debate went into it, only a kind of wishful thinking floating above a certainty of impossibility.
I started to look back in time, to the previous days and weeks, and was alarmed to see the formation of a habit. The habit of saying no. I had refused dinner invitations that provided logistical challenges like food and transportation, I had let time expire without travelling where I had planned, and I had frequently altered outings to revolve around my neighbourhood.
I had begun to overcompensate for my years of single minded recklessness. I had become safe. Safe, and scared.
Throughout my life I have always trusted my instincts. But they seem to have become gun shy.
And while there is nothing wrong with safety, nothing wrong with predictability, it is not the life I want. I would rather make mistakes, taking chances that could lead to the rainbow, than live in a world of neutral tones.
I received a third message, the most daring by far of the three, the most outrageous.
It was an offer to hop in to the car of a stranger, a friend of a friend, travelling to Toronto the very next morning, and arriving back home that night.
After a moment of panic, and thinking of all of the reasons why I shouldn’t go, I said yes on a spur of the moment decision.
And when I arrived back home from the adventure I collapsed in bed, exhausted.
But I woke up the following morning filled with inspiration. I had a wonderful time, met wonderful people, and had wonderful conversations.
And these people, this trip, gave me such a gift. As stories were traded over a 14 hour period of driving, lunch, shopping, and coffee, I couldn’t help but be struck by the immense amount of experiences these people had lived through in the decade that separated us. The completely unexpected challenges and joys that seemed to form the curves of their years.
Even if I tried, my life will never be neutral. Not merely because I live with an unpredictable body, but because no life is.
And that’s kind of a relief. It’s kind of freeing.
Because it means that there is an entire universe of possibilities, waiting for me. And I can take risks, or I can avoid them, but I can’t hide from life any more than I can rush it.
I cannot control the shape my life will take. And I cannot predict it.
But I can sit back, and enjoy the ride.