A Little Life

I am not living an exciting life.

My friend Lanni lives in Paris. She has a very exciting life. Her career takes her to destinations around the globe. She is dating a series of men in rapid succession, ruefully noting the scorched path she leaves in her wake. (Dating Lanni is a bit like having a meteor land in your backyard; it’s very exciting with a rather messy aftermath.) She just adopted a new kitten, which I thought was a bit peculiar since she is currently uncertain on which continent she will land in the coming year. The kitten is named Hermes: the patron of travelers, bringer of dreams, and trickster. He sounds like a perfect companion.

My life is very dull in comparison. The most exciting thing that happened to me all week was that I crashed my scooter. Even this is an exaggeration to make my life sound more interesting than it actually is.

The truth is that there was a broken water main on my way to school and the temperature was hovering right at freezing. The pavement was sprayed with water and, when I hit the icy pavement with my moped, I spun out and landed in a heap. Traffic stopped. Some helpful young men ran over to see if the middle-aged woman with the shredded tights was able to get up off the ground. (She was.)

The moped’s mirror was catawompus and I had a scraped-up knee, but no more harm was done. Meanwhile, Lanni is flying around Paris on the back of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a nuclear physicist when she isn’t dashing around London in her “gold skinny jeans” and impossibly high heels.

I realize it is foolish to compare my life to any other— and especially to compare my life to Lanni’s. With her international jet-setting and rapid-fire romantic liaisons, she would make nearly any life appear a bit pedestrian. And yet, when I honestly compare Lanni’s life to my own right now, I don’t actually feel jealousy. The emotion that overcomes me is… relief.

Yes, I wish I was closer to Daniel. I wish I could see my family more often. I sometimes miss inviting friends over to my house. Alone in a 12 x 17 room with my cat and dog, my life often is a bit dull. I read, I write, the sun goes down, I go to bed. It is a little life.

But it is a life that I created. It did not happen by accident. There is nothing in my life right now that I did not invite in. And that, all by itself, is very satisfying. Because, while I suspect I will never roam the streets of London in skinny gold jeans (and I flat-out hate high heels), I also know that my life will be less austere in the future. It will not always be quite so simple or quite so dull. This time with minimal obligations and hours of quiet has given me a sort of clean slate and I recognize what a rare and unusual opportunity this is.

I have removed all the things that used to demand my time and attention. I have time that is not obligated to anyone, work that is directed towards the things I choose to do, quiet that is not filled with noise or distraction. It is a very dull life— and a precious, precious gift.

And, of course, when I get really and truly bored, I can always check in with Lanni to see what she is up to.

Till next time,

—Carrie

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