Our little tree, a living being in a bright red pot I bought at the grocery store for under $20, stands wrapped in bright lights on top of the second-hand bookshelf by the front door.
Upstairs, the dog and my boys are snoring, slumbering into the morning.
Soon, there will be the pitter-patter of dog-paws, as it’s near time for his morning piss and breakfast. As per usual. Like clockwork. He’s as regular as breathing and a heartbeat. His consistency has become something I lean on for my own regularity. I didn’t know I was adopting a life coach and therapist when I scooped up the pup from the shelter, a fortieth birthday gift to myself, over five years ago.
This morning, my thoughts are all over the map. I keep wondering when my life will return to the simplicity of my childhood, except now, and especially after 2022’s revelations and therapy sessions, I’m realizing that childhood was fraught and those moments of simple living are but pages and sections, and not the full story. I wonder what simplicity I am actually chasing?
What would my life be without credit card debt, student loans, that check engine light, the empty spaces in the cupboards? What would my world feel like without the multitude of plates that I’m responsible for? Is that the escape I keep dreaming about? That world where time is measured in coffee cups and cloud patterns?
This will be my 45th Yule. This will be my 45th dip into the darkest part of the year, and my 45th attempt at setting reasonable, measurable, achievable goals for myself and the year to follow. As though I can set intention for the unknown future. As though I have any semblance of control over what the Universe will throw my way over the next twelve months. I suppose, if anything, I’ve learned to be reasonable about what I set for myself.
Perhaps this time, I’ll set my sights a little lower. Instead of massive changes in my current situation, be it with my overall health, or finances, or living arrangements, I’ll keep things on a longer time-scale. I have twenty years until the government has determined I’m not as viable as a worker as I’ve been so far. In the time I have left, I need to take and make concrete steps towards the kind of freedom I want my last years on this planet to be full of. I want a retirement full of trees and paths and magic and calm. To get there, I need to set small goals, incremental in nature, and stick to them daily.
In the meantime, I probably ought to really separate out the things that I can control and alter, and the things that really live outside of my scope of influence. I don’t know who is going to come or go, into or out of, my life. I don’t know what state or shape the community I live in will be in, come this time next year. I don’t know, and I have no control over, who’ll be in charge or what they’ll decree as law or process. I don’t know and cannot control the pressures that will be placed upon my mind and body.
I can control my reactions to these changes, though. If I continue to shrink my lens a bit, narrow my focus down, maybe I’ll feel less overwhelmed by this time next year.
Maybe this time next year, by the light of the tiny tree, I’ll feel like I’m a bit closer to the simple bliss of my post-adulthood life, and a bit closer to that boy I left on that rocky outcropping back in Maine on that warm summer day, staring to the west and dreaming of a better life.