Autumnal equinox, or An indulgently lengthy reflection on changes past.

It’s the transition into another season, and here I am again, settling in front of a keyboard to reflect on the changing of the guard. The sweet mother leaves of summer are resigning their posts, and the crisp, veteran winds are advancing. Officially, the autumnal equinox has passed and I didn’t notice — it was just another day. In the context of my musings, it’s a relatively meaningless signifier, anyway.

The changes with which I am concerned are, for the most part, more gradual, though some have come in the form of more monumental events that are out of my control. When my close friends’ son dies suddenly from a medical condition, I can’t control that. When my beloved boardwalk burns to the ground, I can’t control that. When a distant acquaintance dies by suicide, I can’t control that. These are painfully devastating changes outside the realm of my control, and on some level in the catacombs of my being, I am momentarily rendered useless and overcome with a sense of futility.

And yet, I realize that that sense of futility is a facade. I can’t control the situations, but I can react to them. In my unconscious self is an immediate reaction that gives me a glimpse behind the veil that hides my true being. There lies a theoretically flawless truth, and from it stems what happens next. We are the sum of our reactions and our actions, and the two are intrinsically linked. When presented with our personal truth, we are also presented with choices.

I can’t help believing that what is supposed to happen, happens, when it’s supposed to happen. I don’t mean that I think our fates are already jotted down in permanent ink, so much as I think that they look something like a sports bracket full of empty spaces ready to be filled in when the time comes. We have free will, don’t we? Even in the event of situations we can’t control, we have decisions to make. We choose what comes next, whether it’s a conscious decision or not. Most frequently, I feel these decisions are born of our intuitions. We experience our personal reaction, and intuitively, we know what to do next to remain true to ourselves.

Sometimes, though, we need to make concrete choices that may be clouded in external circumstances. Even when we look within, the veil has grown darker; the layers of gossamer thicken. As I look back at this summer, which hasn’t felt quite as lazy as summers past, I see a shadowy woods filled with winding paths which I navigated the best I could. Some tasks proved arduous yet achievable: finding a new place to live, finding a new job. Despite the steady weight they left on my shoulders for me to endure for months, the weight lifted when the goals were managed. Others, though, have proved more difficult, and for me, these are the more important choices overflowing from my cupped hands.

Though I am aware that I haven’t been taking care of myself physically and that must change, I’m focusing on caring for myself emotionally and mentally more than ever. The decisions I make regarding which relationships I want to nurture and which are detrimental to me, seem less taxing than in recent times. I’m beginning to have a less troublesome time finding ways to reach out and be present in people’s lives, while realizing that usually, that is all I can do: be present. I grow more and more grateful for the quality as well as the quantity of my relationships, but I thirst for more.

One of the many mysteries that still remains in front of me is that of intimacy. What does it mean to be intimate with someone? I don’t feel that there can be true physical intimacy without a deeper, intangible intimacy between hearts and minds, but what is that intangible something? Is it a kindred connection between two beings, a syncing of energies? Is it a sharing of personal stories? That’s what a story is, in one sense — an amalgam of someone’s reactions and actions — and to share one’s true story is a part of intimacy, is it not? I also feel that on a more surface level, intimacy can be a firmly developed familiarity. To know another’s idiosyncrasies, to see the minute details of their person, takes a closeness that can be hard to come by.

Intimacy is the main emotional and mental area I think I ignored this past season, and though I don’t exactly regret my neglect, I’m dissatisfied with it as well. My usual approach to relationships is trust begets trust: if I share of myself, people general share of themselves. I used to hesitate to trust, but now I trust readily unless it is proven I shouldn’t. It makes me solid shoulder to lean on, but I don’t know if I take advantage of the shoulders available to me. I tend to doubt that they exist, and so I hesitate to find out for certain if they are there. Perhaps, as the closeness of summer air dissipates, I will learn to find closeness in my relationships before the winter winds abide. It’s my decision to do so, right? To recognize my intuition, my truth, and move forward from there. There’s no use in turning back, so onward into autumn it is.

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Excerpt: Foreign Correspondant

…I’m going to a benefit at my favorite bar on Sunday for a girl who broke her neck zip lining and is now paralyzed. She’s only 25, and she was a dance instructor. I can’t imagine what she’s going through.

I also can’t imagine how my friend with the 2 young kids feels. She and her family just moved back to our hometown, and she’s…having trouble. She’s also 25. It truly amazes me, how different people’s journeys are, ya know? Everyone has a story, and that story is constantly changing. This one girl is learning to feed herself again [as she regains movement in her arms], my other friend is trying to raise 2 kids…you’re across the world…and here I am wandering around trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life…

There’s a screenwriting book I really like that talks about this element of a script that they call “stasis = death.” The idea is that you put your protagonist in a situation where something absolutely needs to change for the character. This happens near the beginning. The character can sense that the change is coming, and then essentially, the rest of the story is about the change itself and the struggle involved. A person’s life isn’t a single plot line, but many running at the same time, and those stories aren’t all at the same plot point. All these pieces are part of the big picture, yeah? Well, I feel right now that most of my plot lines, and therefore my life as a whole, are at “stasis = death” moments. I mad absolutely need some change in my life, and I’m doing my best to make that happen.