A couple of summers ago, I tried reading the first Lord of the Rings (just to say that I have) and I cannot remember much because I stopped at like page 38. But I read enough to hear Bilbo, I think, say some words that few other statements have stayed with me for so long:
“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
The context refers to needing rest because of age, which I don’t relate to. But the first time I read this, my attention and energy were divided into so many different areas that I did, in fact, feel like butter spread too thin. This morning I re-met these words as I felt my mind dabble on so many different ideas and things to do. Ironically, while scraping butter over my toast.
If you know me, you know that right now is kind of a crazy time hehe. There is a lot of movement happening and I feel divided— I want so much of everything. Newness, adventure, risk. But I also want stability, calmness, quiet. There are some days that I thrive on jumping from one conversation to another, switching languages constantly or moving from one activity to the next. I am okay with living out of a suitcase and changing plans last minute. Sometimes I overbook but I many times enjoy the adrenaline that this gives me.
And then, there are some days that I crave a long stretch of stillness and solitude. A rainy morning in my attic or a quiet tea on my balcony. No phone, no interaction. I enjoy organizing as though I were to stay in a place for a while, and seek spaces where my mind can wander and rest. So when I have either and they don’t match up with my sense of self of the day, I throw myself into guilt and wonder: Am I really living my life well?
This can be pretty self-inflicting. I am good at listing all the things that I haven’t accomplished (day-to-day or in life). I moved back to Spain almost a year ago now. This year was supposed to be full of reflection and writing. A chance to meet myself again, as I reconstruct my ideas in my old language and culture. But I also started a masters program and a teaching internship, and a side-job at a cheerleading club. I found myself doing make up for a theater group or signing up for kickboxing, volunteering and hosting university students over the summer. I really wouldn’t change any of these things, because they have brought me a lot of joy and chances to meet incredible people. But, I haven’t had much time to write, nor to listen to my changing ideas. I have felt guilty about this, as though I am wasting my time and neglecting something that I think is important for me to do. Perhaps as I transition into a different season of life I will find more time to reflect. But I am learning that my guilty thoughts won’t get me anywhere and the process of getting to where I want to be will most likely always be different than what I imagined.
My dog Nalah teaches me a lot about life. Her favorite thing is when I let go of her leash so she can roll in the long, fresh grass. Her belly faces the sun and her tongue drops to the side. She fully enjoys the moment she is in, and then she gets up and starts walking again until we arrive home. I think this looks a lot like “process”. A stop, a jump. A roll, a walk. Like a march of stairs, perhaps some days upward and some days sideways, each step leading to something. It is a curvy path, but it contains patches tender enough to stand in. Places where I can lay and roll in the grass, my face towards the sun and my eyes open wide to what is happening. I honestly want to enjoy my moments like Nalah, as silly as that may sound. To move beyond time constraints or habits, stretch over expectations, self-given or outer-based. To allow myself to fail, even with an audience; and let people see the parts of me that have yet to be defined.
More than anything, I think it means accepting that, yes, I am like butter scraped over too much bread right now. Perhaps I need to change some things about how I am living my life. But this is who I am now: a bit of a lot of different things; bending over, shifting, and awkwardly dancing around. I’m not sure of much, but I’m sure of what’s important. I can let myself enjoy my thinly buttered toast.