I realized that I could take some of what I loved about Brian's anecdotes back to my own work. And I have done that. But what I want to talk about today is how my personal life has been changed since then.
I started watching the Oprah network on Maggie Mason's recommendation. Maggie said that Oprah's Master Class was the best show on television - a comment I did not take lightly. And so I tried it out. I started watching Master Class, mostly in the evenings. I also started watching the programming they run on Sunday mornings (Super Soul Sunday for those interested). There I'd sit, with my oatmeal in my lap, watching television that made me feel calm. And not even that - it made me start to question how I thought about my life. It made me think about the relationships I have with my family, my co-workers and my friends.
Chris and I talked more deeply about the kind of life we want together. We tried meditation. I got an itch to go to church (ours is Unitarian and a bit of a pain to get to on a Sunday morning). And this all kept building quietly in the background, chipping away slowly at my resistance to ask Big Questions.
For a long while, I haven't had time to think about Big Questions. Getting up on a Sunday morning was inconvenient for a college student... and then for a Master's student... and then for a late-20s woman who had become a ball of frantic energy after living in New York City for a while. It got to the point that even bringing up tiny thoughts about Big Questions at dinner parties made the whole thing turn sour when others thought I was trying to indoctrinate or suggest that religion is any sort of solution.
But I wasn't. I was just feeling around. And for those counting, wondering aloud and working at some answers to Big Questions has never been the cool thing to do. Figuring out what I think about why we're here and what I'm supposed to do with the short period of time I'm on earth has not yet been allowed to be a priority. But Oprah's network and the experiences I had at Camp Mighty have started to bring me around to a place where the door is open a tiny bit. I might have more time than I think for this sort of quest.
"A quest," Elizabeth Gilbert once said, "Is the process through which you turn yourself into a question mark."
We had lunch in Portland with a friend from Camp Mighty and her husband. They're a little bit older than us and shared some thoughts about how they've navigated raising a family, building a life and establishing careers. Over a hot dog and kale salad (ahh Portland), something broke open in me. I'm not yet prepared to speak about it, mostly because I don't know how to put the mess of thoughts I have into coherent sentences. But it happened and it felt like a break-through.
Our futures are unknown. But that's always been true - for us and for you and for our ancestors and for everyone else on this planet. Our futures are unknown. But for the first time in a very, very long time, I feel calm about the future. I feel confident that we will find our way.
And that feeling? That gritty, scrappy, earnest gut feeling about how we'll be fine? It is just the tiniest bit of an answer to a Big Question... and it terrifies me and excites me to keep my mind open to all of the possibilities that exist.