happy new year
Equanimity is the place where there is no tension, no pulling. The miraculous few seconds in my handstand when I’m toppling neither backwards nor forwards. When I want nothing because I have everything I need.
I felt it while wandering through Chapultepec Park on a blue day. There were herons in the trees and they didn’t make any sense to me. I felt it nestled into the bed rereading Henry James, feeling it deeper the second time. I still love Isabel Archer.
During so many moments I feel pulled this way and that. My life is structured around attaining and protecting composure, but underneath the surface there’s always been tumult. I grew up believing that those who are insufficiently paranoid are punished. It’s a streak I can’t shake. I work hard for things, but I don’t let myself feel the pleasure of having them. My hedonism has always been edged with guilt.
Tension is what reminds me to keep moving. I love freewheeling momentum, the clean arc of a pendulum, concentric circles rippling through water. I love what is linear and what is exponential, but rarely what stagnates. When you smiled at the restaurant I noticed that you were changing.
I’m changing, too. I’ve been working hard to be different. And sometimes I’m scared of the implications. I want to be someone who can run fast but can also stand still. I’m trying to break past the hunted, frantic motions of my past, into a kind of calm opening. This year, instead of looking for speed, I’m looking for expansion.
I threw a New Year’s Eve party with L and now there are 65 balloons in my apartment that I need to deflate. Sometimes the two of us talk for hours and I get the sense we’re trying to arrive at some agreement about how a person can learn to negotiate with their emotions while still being true to them. I am always looking for the answer to that question. A told me his resolution this year is to be more accepting. He said, I don’t know why you still love me.
What I like in other people, what I like in him, is movement. I like people who are willing and able to change. I love intention, direction. I love my friends because they sincerely try to fix the problems they encounter. That feels like the only path to real joy.
Last year, I learned what I’m looking for in a person. I want to love the motions of their mind even when I can’t quite follow. Instead of an appeal to morality, I’m looking for an appeal to beauty.
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I look through the memories catalogued on my phone and think about how profoundly lucky I am. I don’t always let myself feel it in the moment: too paranoid. But what I have been given is more than adequate.
At 15, 19, 23, all I could think about what was missing. The things I hadn’t done, the things I didn’t have, the people who didn’t love me. Now, in the moments when there is no tension and no pulling, I see something else: what I’ve always had, always overlooked, slowly learned to love. Ariadne’s thread pulls me through time and into a startled recognition of my good fortune.
For a long time, tension has kept me running. I’ve always been looking back to make sure I’m not being followed, looking forward to pinpoint where I’m going. But this year I’m trying to grow outwards instead of darting forwards. I’m cultivating a kind of motion that can coexist with stillness. I change when I admit that what I have is already enough.