returning and beginning

Apparently, it's been a year - practically to the day - since I last posted in this blog, which sprung out of my Tour de Word project from 2010 and evolved, in 2011, into "This Every Moment," designed to capture - as I stated in my blog description from then - the "dangling participles of a life."

What a difference a year makes...and at the same time, I love how every year seems, at some point, to cycle me back to some kind of beginning, steering me to a vantage point that allows me to see not just the path I've taken but who I am to the core. And I see what sticks to me is the stuff that's always stuck to me - the minutiae, the details, the tiny daily evidence of living.

Right now, I'm looking out the kitchen window and into the backyard bordered by weathered wood fencing. I am in Nutley, New Jersey, a town I visited more than two years ago on Tour de Word and a town which I couldn't have imagined I'd be living in, certainly not then and not a year ago, when I typed out my last blog entry from my mother's house in Amherst, Massachusetts. The last time I wrote here, I hadn't yet launched my Type Rider project, hadn't yet traveled more than a third of the country by bicycle, hadn't yet gathered strangers around a typewriter with the wild idea of bringing people together through a collaborative writing experiment. And I hadn't yet fallen in love.

And now those long miles are behind me, the typewriter is full of stories, the project has developed into some wonderful new incarnations, and I - still very much in love - have left New England for New Jersey, where my household now includes two teenage boys, a Goldendoodle, and a woman who shares my spirit of adventure, play, and the desire to build community through creative action. A woman who taught me how to hula-hoop. A woman who teaches girls to embrace their power and their voice. A woman who looks into my eyes and makes me feel profoundly loved. This past week, we finished unloading the POD that delivered all of my things that had been in storage in San Francisco, and the house now feels like a true collaboration, a space from which new projects will spring into action, a home of true purpose and peace and possibility.

It would take many hours to fill in the details of everything else that's happened over the past year, but maybe the most important thing to tell you is that something in me has settled in, grounded, and strengthened these past 12 months. And simultaneously, I've never been more excited, inspired, and motivated to stretch my boundaries, take good risks, and put myself and my work out into the world in new ways. I haven't written very much in the past few months, but I see how much has taken place internally, and I recognize the importance of these periods of gestation when things are solidifying into being, finding their bones and their muscle.

One of the pieces of advice I always give my writing students is to let the story find them. To step out of the way so that the story that needs to be told - which is not necessarily the one they want to tell - finds its way into the light. It's not an easy thing to do. It feels counterintuitive. After all, aren't we the architects of our stories? The architects of our lives?

This past year, I've discovered the wonderful gift of loosening the reins. Not letting go, exactly, but unclenching from the grip of expectation and outcome. This softening has brought so many gifts. An openness to the unknown, an alignment - even a curiosity - with uncertainty. It's helped me worry less, and it's offered a way to reframe disappointment as an invitation to be patient and self-compassionate and to try again. And it's brought me in contact with love in an entirely different way. I understand now that it's a being with its own body and mind and intelligence, not something for me to control but rather something to be learning from daily. An energy to follow and lean into. A language that keeps showing me new ways of speaking.

And so I notice the beauty of an empty plate of toast after a morning of good conversation. A finger puppet poking its hello out of a shared bookshelf. A mutual decision to stay in better touch with finances. The view from the top of the chairlift with two pairs of skis parallel. The gift of an orchid on an ordinary day. A basketball game with a boy I might have a thing or two to teach. Soup night with friends. A dishwasher we will empty together. A streetlight that keeps showing me the way home.


for Amy Tingle