Friday, July 30, 2010

Learning to Fly

So I started out
For God knows where
I guess I'll know
When I get there.

~Tom Petty, "Learning to Fly"


If The Letter Jar project had a soundtrack, that song would probably be the opening cut.

Those words have always spoken to me, someone who isn't afraid to embrace the gypsy side of her nature. I can appreciate the idea of life being one big surprising journey--I may not know where I'm ultimately going to end up, but I'm certainly enjoying the sites I have the good fortune to happen upon.

And enjoying as well, the people I'm lucky enough to meet along the way.

Tonight I wrote to my former coworker P and her partner M. I worked with P at a community college in Albuquerque, where I moved with my first husband a decade ago.

P and M, as I told them in my letter, are some of the most genuine, authentic, unpretentious people you will ever meet. They both have such a way of putting you at ease, you feel like an old friend almost immediately. We rarely correspond anymore, but I nonetheless recalled warm memories the very moment I pulled their names from The Letter Jar.

Writing to them, I was struck once again by the seeming randomness--that indeed is likely much less random than I think--that rules the events in my life and the people those events bring me to. My ex-husband and I, Midwesterners when we met, vacationed in the southwest and decided to relocate. That decision gave me the opportunity to meet not only P (and through her, M) but also a whole host of other fascinating, funny, caring people I'm lucky to count among my friends. These are people I've been challenged by, learned from, laughed with and cried on. My life story wouldn't be same without them.

I appreciate the reminder of life's surprises, as I now find myself not moving physically, but nonetheless moving, into another phase in my life as a new mother. I've begun to notice as I write my letters that I am feeling grateful for the relationships I have formed over my lifetime--as a high school and college student, entry-level journalist, career changer, thirtysomething newlywed stepmother--and I'm yearning to form new ones.

The prospect seems daunting--making new friends at this stage in life feels at least different, if not more challenging, than back in college when I was rooming with a dorm full of fellow students and going to classes in big lecture halls each day--until I remember how I've made so many of the important connections in my life. I simply need to keep my mind open to life's unpredictable journey and my heart open to the people I meet along the way.

YOU MUST READ THIS: I'm so glad to have received an inquiry the other day from Felix Jung of the absolutely mesmerizing blog Dead Advice. He asked if I might be willing share a link to his work. You bet.

"Imagine, for a moment, that you have just died," Dead Advice challenges you on its front page. "If you had to look back over the arc of your life as it stands today, what stories would you tell? What lessons would you share, what things might you regret or confess?"

Take some time, read some letters. I suggest starting with Felix's own, A Small List of Big Things, which is poignant and funny, brilliant really. Then think about your letter ... a fascinating prospect, no?

1 comment:

Jen said...

So I had to write a letter for Dead Advice. See if you can find it. ;)