If your life was a screenplay…

“Heather, if I were a film director and I was making a movie about your life based on the bits I’ve read and what you’ve shared, I could without a doubt direct every scene down to the finest detail. But there is something so interesting to me. I wouldn’t know how to direct the characters — because I have no idea how they feel.” — S. Jagger

And so my great big journey began. On a Skype call with Steph Jagger, author of the latest book I simply couldn't get enough of — Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery. My reading Unbound came complete with full-on snort-laughing, eyes welling, head nodding, heartbeat elevating — page-by-page I devoured her story as I (in my typical approach to reading) highlighted passages and tabbed corners where I found experiences I could relate to, refer to, learn from, and perhaps aspire to in my own life.

In the ways of the world, I’m a firm believer that sheer coincidence is bullshit.

I believe I was drawn to Steph’s memoir at the exact moment I was for a reason. I believe my solo adventure to Outessa this September didn’t happen as it was originally planned for the past two summers for a reason. And I believe this opportunity to work one-on-one with Steph has landed in my lap here and now for the biggest reason. I have never asked for guidance. I’ve led a life of “Just deal with it,” and “I got this.” I’ve been praised for the do-ing I’ve done. Accomplishments and successes and wins in work, in sports, in reaching goals and checking boxes.

Hit the replay button — “I have no idea how they feel,” she said.

I listened to these words, and then imagine a Freightliner truck hitting you square in the face — but at the same time, its impact comes with a tone of empathy, one of curiosity and wanting to help understand why. Why weren’t the characters conveying their feelings — including the lead, yours truly? Could they even feel their own feelings? Has there simply been an aversion or a fear or a hesitancy to sharing feelings? Or have they been there at all, and if so — how have they influenced or directed the path I’ve paved thus far?

Questions. New questions. Different questions. So many of them swirling around in my head. Because the questions I had been pondering ad nauseam lately sounded more like this: What am I doing? Where am I living? Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? Is this where I’m supposed to be living? What’s missing? What’s next? Where to? What color do I paint my house?

“You’ve had a shit ton of external change in your life. You’re incredibly accomplished on the doing side of things — there’s no doubt that you can set goals and conquer them one by one. This is where your mind wants to go because that is what you’ve known. So let’s take it elsewhere.”

This was the gist of our conversation from there. Do-ing versus be-ing. This isn’t about the external, but rather the internal. Flip it. Reverse it. 180 degrees from the journey I thought I was embarking on. And out of this, it is as though waves of calm have unfurled over me, slowly and purposefully undulating with a sense of wonder, curiosity, love, hope, and optimism.

I’ve been challenged to trek into uncharted territory. How am I connected to myself? Can I feel my own feelings? What the hell does all of this even mean? As I started to unearth how I felt during any given scenario, conversation, experience… I was initially struggling to find words — even what exactly were feelings, or how to describe them. I knew they were in there, but I couldn’t find them. Top of mind, I think there were four, maybe five. Happy. Sad. Excited. Confused. Lonely crept in there— even for the girl who’s quite comfortable in solitude.

I actually turned to F-ing Google to find a list of feelings so I could start to explore what I was indeed feeling. Yes, Google. Charts and wheels of feelings. Oh lord, help us all. But, hey. It was a start. And a chance to awaken from what had become a feeling of dare I say, comfortably numb? There they were. Words to describe how I realized I have felt in the past and managed to conceal as though I’ve been veiled. Full-on camouflage. Disconnected. Betrayed. Uncertain. Scared. Hurt. Insecure.

It became crystal clear that I’ve been looking externally to hide or fix or redirect what was happening internally. It was then quite literally like a switch flipped. It sparked a fire in my soul and in my heart. How I have been processing various thoughts and experiencing that and those around me has slowed down. Not to the point of slow motion — but to a point where it’s not all rushing by like subway trains in a dark tunnel — and rather like an old convertible sports car, top down in the sunshine along a country road.

A few recent conversations and ponderings and experiences — understood, connected, hopeful, curious, confident, nervous, happy, giddy, thankful…Through all of this, we might just be able to direct those characters — in a movie that brings to life all they want to explore, experience, share — full of laughter, tears, tastes, textures, colors, and so much more.

Wait, I like where this great big journey is going…

Facing the Freightliner truck, opening a big ol’ jar of feelings, and diving deep into the marrow of life.
Remembering what it felt like to float in the salty Adriatic… summer 2018… warm, quiet, peaceful, bliss.

#greatbigjourney #yearofhellyes #smilealways #laughmore

A life lived all-in.