I can feel myself softening as I approach the point in the path that offers a panoramic view of the bay. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun is warming my face. I go home tomorrow, but this place is slowly beginning to feel like a home of sorts as well. I begin to wonder if I can maintain softer edges and a slower pace once home. Here, my sneakers are constantly filed with sand from the beaches and pathways along the bay. At home, the sidewalks grind down the soles and the grit and dirt from the streets quickly cake on to any white trim instantly making new sneakers look dingy.
Yesterday, New Years Day, I took the ten-minute drive from my parents’ house to the state park. The moment my feet hit the pathway leading to the sand dunes and strand a subtle smile crept onto my face – the softening that began happening…I don’t know when, but that I noticed over the last few weeks. I nod and say hello to the people I pass, wishing a, “Happy New Year,” in return to those who say it to me. The people are friendly here. Back home, we mostly try to survive and get from point A to point B without acknowledging those surrounding us. I used to crave the anonymity. I didn’t want to smile and say hello to strangers. Now, I must admit, I kind of like it. It takes work to tune out everyone and everything surrounding you all while strangers press up against you on overcrowded public transportation and every sense get bombarded nonstop.
A few months ago I began consciously slowing down. In the city that never sleeps, this felt sacrilegious. I had so fully burnt out just months prior to this shift that a complete halt was required. I was not willing to keep going down the path I had begun running down full steam ahead. I didn’t really know what else to do, but I did know what I was doing was not working.
I gaze out over the bay on my left and the mountains on my right. Tomorrow there will be skyscrapers and city lights surrounding me. I feel the pull of both places. I hear the questions that have been bouncing around in my brain raise their voices to be heard over the silence that envelops the place where I stand at this moment. I realize how few answers I have. A clear schedule of what the first five months of 2019 will look like exists, a roadmap of sorts. I have made obligations I will keep. I have chosen to invest in projects I will see through. I have also left space for myself, for the unknown, for rest, for whatever life may throw my way, for finding answers…or maybe asking more questions.