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Shifts

This has been an…interesting year. You would have to put in some pretty hardcore effort to not notice what kind of a year it’s been in the public sphere (in the Western world, which is really the only part of the world I’m qualified to speak about). Various political monstrosities have happened internationally, and Australia went through the pain-in-the-arse of the postal popularity poll on marriage equality—a bullshit process that was somewhat redeemed by having the majority of Australians put their foot down and demand equality, bless ’em.

And it’s been an interesting year Chez Spoonfully, too. I’ve had this and that going on, health-wise: lots of annoyingly vague symptoms that are hard to pinpoint, like periodic nausea and crippling fatigue and general blahness. I’ve had recurring eyelid infections (gross), salt problems (ugh), and a weirdo lump on my shoulder that I have decided to embrace as part of my unique brand of beauty.

All of this is only mildly interesting in comparison to the astonishing shifts that have taken place in me. The first big one was travel. I love, love, love travelling. I have, in the past, been known to have something of a small contained hissy fit if I feel I’m not travelling enough and the world is passing me by, etc. etc. But this year, on the cusp of a trip to the US, M and I both kinda felt that we would really not be at all bothered if one us, say, broke a foot and we couldn’t go. Nobody really wants a broken foot, of course: but both of us felt such extreme reluctance to leave that we had to privately admit it seemed the superior option. Neither of us broke anything and the trip was a complete blast: we saw friends and family, explored a new city, caught a fancy train, and chilled out reading books in Brooklyn. It was glorious. But man, both of us were just completely desperate to be at home, with our own kitchen and bathroom and cats and things. This is a strange development for me, and I think it’s indicative of two things: the first is, obviously, fatigue. The year has wrung me out with Things To Be Worried About (legit things, too, not just my usual laying-awake-thinking-about-zombie-axe-murderers worrying), and the comfort that comes from familiarity and your surroundings is not to be sneezed at. Travel is wonderful: it opens your mind, offers a new way of seeing people and the world at large, and has a thousand ways of delighting you. But travel is hard. Long flights (i.e. anything from Australia) are demanding; having to go out and be socially on for all your meals is demanding; even sleeping in a strange place and figuring out the public transport system in a new city are demanding. And when the year has already placed considerable demands on your resources, that’s no small thing. The second thing behind my travel fatigue is a lot happier: I think that I’m just happier in myself and who I am as a person. I don’t need to have a list of countries I’ve visited so that I can have proof of how great I am. That impulse has been buried in my love of travelling: among its many rewards, travelling lets me prove how tough and cool I am. Now I don’t need to prove it, because, well, I simply am.

The other surprising development that’s taken place this year is my sudden frenzy for gardening. Almost every spring, since I was a teenager, I’ve had bursts of interest in gardening: I’m sure it’s just a response to the frenzy of growth that is springtime here. But it lasts roughly one hyperactive weekend, and then I get tired and frustrated and just give up. This year? This year I’ve had so many ideas and things I want to try and garden jobs I want to do that I’ve had to start a spreadsheet and schedule things weekend by weekend. I’ve started paying a nice person to come around and mow my lawn, and that seems to have made a big difference: I don’t mind lawnmowing, but I must admit if I don’t do it every week, it takes hours and is exhausting (fast lawn growth around here). And then I’m too tired and annoyed for any further gardening. So removing that chore from my list has freed up my time and energy to rededicate myself to the rest of the garden.

There’s something deeper at play here, too, as there is in the travelling thing. It’s that I’m suddenly unafraid to feel my roots growing. I have, in the past, been reluctant to commit to physical things that I’m scared will stop me travelling and living all over the world.  It’s one of the reasons I kept my office so minimal for so long: I needed to prove to myself that I could work in the scantest conditions, so that I could work anywhere. I still have a deep-seated reluctance to own a food processor because I feel like that will somehow mean I will never live in Canada (I don’t understand it either). But I’m suddenly aware of how deep my love for my place goes. My home, my surprise cats (one of life’s curveballs right there), my garden, and my sense of self: my affection for it all is suddenly deeper and more nourishing than I’ve ever realised it could be. In part, it’s because I’ve lost the need to point to my ability to travel and say ‘see, that proves how free/great/brave I am!’, because I feel a much stronger sense that it’s so self-evidently true I don’t need proof. And in letting go of that impulse, I’ve been rewarded with so much joy—well-rooted, secure joy—than I ever anticipated.

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