30 : the year of longing

Last night, I had a dream I was country-hopping through Europe: from England, to Scotland, to Italy. I was sitting on a bus, driving down a single-lane road through fields of green towards the end of our journey, when the thought came across me:

This isn’t enough. I haven’t found what I’m looking for. I need more.

What was odd about this revelation was that it served as a direct correlation to thoughts I’ve been having for the last several days about longing. About feminine longing, to be exact. The ever-incomplete sensation of needing to be filled. The thing that’s apparently been holding me back and pushing me forward for years.

This feeling of longing can’t be satiated by things, by people, or even by experiences. My dream wasn’t telling me that I needed more vacation or souvenirs – it was admitting that whatever I was off looking for was something so deep, so internal, so personal that running away would never be the fix. Learning to live in the longing is/was the ultimate destination.

And what is my longing? It’s a need for purpose, direction, answers, and meaning. And it’s utterly indefinable.

So it’s funny how I thought turning 30 was going to solve it. It’s even funnier that all my plans for turning 30 were thwarted by the one thing that’s been holding many of us back this year. In a way, it’s rather appropriate that today is just another day – another beautiful, slightly chilly, fall October day. And for that, I should be amply grateful. Shouldn’t I?

But something’s still not right. Something still makes me want to break into tears right now.

Because let’s face it – this past year SUCKED. It was TERRIBLE. HORRIBLE. There’s no getting around it. Aside from a worldwide pandemic that cost me my job and postponed our wedding and the festivities planned around it, I lost two goats in a month, suffered my first allergic reaction to poison ivy, gashed open my hand, and now can’t decide if I have a mild form of ADHD or extreme anxiety. The world at large feels like it’s falling apart – politically, economically, environmentally. People are sick. People are being murdered in the streets. There are riots and wildfires and passive aggressive interactions in coffee shops. It’s a lot to think about….a lot to worry about.

No wonder I don’t feel “new and improved.” No wonder I’m still longing and yearning and searching and grasping and wanting. No wonder I’m sitting here wishing for better.

But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s the gift moving into my 30th year. Knowing that what I’m looking for with each and every passing birthday isn’t something that any of us can ever truly grasp. Recognizing that this desire, this longing, for more is what gets me up every morning and keeps me hopeful.

It also helps to know I’m not alone. We’re all feeling lost this year. We’re all longing for something. No matter what we do, we just can’t get enough. We need more human interaction. More freedom. More peace. More understanding. More opportunity. More travel. More normalcy. And no matter what we do, we can’t reach the “more,” because even if we do, we know there’s something bigger, still unsettled, still unfulfilled. Some things that will take more action than we alone can control.

But you know what? I’m growing from it. We all are.

Yes, this year has been a flaming pile of dog shit laced with paint fumes and tainted mushrooms. But I can’t help but believe that it’s serving a purpose. Day by day we’re learning to live without, and in that, we’re learning to appreciate. We’re learning to dream. We’re learning to hope.

At 30, I may not have it all figured out like I thought I would (cue the knowing chuckles here), but the stage is being set for wonderful, magical, intentional things. I’m figuring out who I am and what I want. I’m inching closer towards balance. I still have 13 goats. I have an incredible Hideaway that is coming together day-by-day. I’m being forced to take my writing a little more seriously now that I have some free time on my hands. And while I’ve probably cried more days in this last year than I have since my first month of college, I know I’m not alone. We’re all a little f-ed up right now. But you know what? Embracing the longing for more, for better, for fullness – that’s what’s going to get us right – one step, one year, one lifetime at a time.