When you get a group of heartbeats together you get names that call out
into the evening’s first radiance of planets: a quiver of cobras,
a maelstrom of salamanders, an audience of squid, or an ostentation
of peacocks. But what is it called when creatures on this earth curl
and sleep, when shadows of moons we don’t yet know brush across
our faces? And what is the name for the movement we make when
we wake, swiping hand or claw or wing across our face, like trying
to remember a path or a river we’ve only visited in our dreams.
A week ago was my birthday. I'm now 32 years old, a number that seems a little out of sync with my perception of myself and yet at the same time feels exactly right. Yesterday, I wore my hair loose, and as it swirled around in the breeze through the open car window I could see the long strands of silver that mixed into the rest, even as it moved. The silver strands aren't new; the first ones popped up a few years ago, but they are rather more abundant these days.
I don't experience adult-imposter syndrome anymore; I no longer believe that everybody feels lost as an adult and some of us are just better at faking it. I did feel that way in my twenties, but after about 28 or so, I started to feel like I was just doing it. Turns out that adulthood is 99% just doing the damn thing. You stop feeling like you're faking if you do enough damn things. The damn things can get out of proportion sometimes, though, and like many adults I can get grumpy and overwhelmed and turn inward, clinging to whatever it is that comforts, sometimes at the expense of the people around me. Comfort, though sometimes necessary, is inherently at least a little selfish.
I once read, in a thread of marriage advice, a suggestion that in order to have healthy conflict in a relationship, you need to frame things as us against the problem rather than us against each other. Even when the problem is something the other person is doing, or has done, or seems to be planning to do, you frame the conflict with the problem, not with the person. You prioritize the team.
It's advice I've been able to use not only in my marriage but in other settings as well, in work and friendship and parenthood. What's underneath this problem that needs to change? How can we work on it together? What might work better for all of us?
My goal for my 32nd trip around the sun is to work harder to prioritize the whole team, I think. I try to work with community and people a lot, of course, but that struggle against turning inward and isolating myself and my work is a personal challenge I want to address. For it to work, for any of it to work, it's going to have to be us against the problem. Us against each other isn't getting us anywhere.