There's something about the way my birthday falls that always makes me incredibly reflective. The end of summer, the start of fall. A new school year, a new year in my life.
And each year, I set a secret intent in my mind. This is the year of...
Last year, I told myself it was the year of something big.
What did I think was going to happen? I have no idea. But I felt like I was on the cusp of something big. Something was just around the corner at 26 and I could feel it, inching closer and closer.
I laughed the other day when I thought about it, because it seems like nothing big happened this year when I glance over it quickly. How silly, I was, I thought at first.
But then I dug in and realized that something bigger than the big I'd imagined happened. Life happened. In tiny moments. In new friendships beginning and older ones going deeper. In growing closer with my siblings. In new homes and a new job. In a spontaneous phone call that has landed me on a plane to Africa in six weeks. In a shifting heart and little changes in my life.
No. These aren't big things at all. But, it turns out what 26 taught me is that life is lived in these small moments.
I tend to stress about the future. About the plan I laid when I was 18 that just isn't quite falling into place. My plan, my plan. But 26 has taught me that while my plan was lovely, this real one is better. I don't get to know what is next and I don't get to know the timeline for how things will happen. But I am learning that it doesn't really matter. Because this is life, right now. And it's meant to be seized.
I think we tend to treat our 20s like a stepping stone decade. It's between college and before real life. It's a formative time where we are laying groundwork for our future careers, the family we will one day have, the relationships we will create, the homes we will buy - everything that is big and bright ahead. And while the foresight and care for our futures are wonderful, I think we can get so wrapped up in them that we forget the right now. We forget to enjoy the moment and embrace this season of in between.
Driving back from vacation Monday morning, Sam and I were riding in his car. We boarded the ferry in Deep Point and drove out of the city as the sun was coming up over the water. The sleepy town was quiet and dewy. Our music was low and slow and as I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the rest of the sweet town with Sam, I thought: this is going to be one of those moments. Those moments that I look back on and remember. Those moments that are perfect and peaceful and instantly nostalgic. They make my heart feel full and overwhelmed with love for the present; for the right now. These tiny, in between moments feel both significant and insignificant all at once and remind me that the future is exciting and the past is lovely, but the right now is oh-so sweet.
So on this final day of my 26th year, I can laugh when I realize nothing all that big happened at all. Or, I can look at these little moments, linked together like a strand of pearls and understand that they create something beautiful. And maybe that, in and of itself, is something big after all.