I have returned to Provincetown after two weeks away. I didn’t intend to be away so long, but I also didn’t intend for my truck to start falling apart as I drove to Brooklyn. I didn’t intend for it to take four days to get fixed, or for the timing of these things to press against my new teaching schedule. I didn’t intend for work to get busy. Nor did I anticipate that, after many months, I’d feel the urge to paint.
The time away allows me to see how things have changed. I’ve returned the night before the equinox, so the most obvious shift is in the air. For the first time since May I didn’t wear shorts today, and it felt natural to pull out a jacket before walking through town after dinner. The damp darkness reminds me of the oddly warm winter nights when I arrived here last January. It’s nights like these that remind one this is unmistakably a harbor town. It’s not just the place that is changed; it’s the people. The crowds of tourists have thinned and the weekend visitors radiate more intention. Men’s eyes have less attitude; they look with curiosity. Perhaps this is the existential turn of this season? Our collective recognition that the indetermination of summer possibility gives way to the particular loneliness we find in darkness? Maybe it’s turns like this that allow us to seek solace in others?
I bought a new truck today, which feels like a signifier of something. It feels like a beginning, or at least the marking of an ending. I’ve wanted to be sentimental about the truck I just traded-in – because somehow I think that’s what I’m supposed to do — but I can’t find the feeling. Unlike my first truck, which is connected to many happy adventures, this last truck is anchored to more ambivalent times.
It’ no secret to close friends that I’ve been feeling put upon, reacting to circumstance and feeling distracted from the work that matters to me. I’m willing to admit that this might simply be symptomatic of a midlife crisis, but I think it’s more. I’ve been feeling adrift, unsatisfied, like I’m living in a holding pattern. I feel like the possibilities of living are contracting. I feel like those with amassed cultural power aren’t effective or ethically engaged – and doing all they can to inhibit others from using the everyday power we all possess. I know I’m dissatisfied with the place in which I find myself – unsure of my goals and quite clear that the depth of meaning in my life feels shallow. More particularly, I am doing work that feels unaligned with my aspirations, but naming this is part of changing it. I so often ask students to name their aspirations, articulate their intentions, and to embrace the labor necessary to pursue what matters to them. I’ve lost sight of this in my own practice – or allowed my belief in service to obscure a commitment to my own projects. Perhaps, more problematic still, I’ve allowed my penchant for service to avoid naming and embracing my future work.
Thankfully, beginnings can happen in any second we will them to be. Too often it’s only the turn into darkness that helps me remember this.