looking back and looking out

Growing up in rural Texas can really give you a skewed vision of what life really is. As a child, I grew up in a couple of houses. One was on a large plot of land...must have been at least 30 acres...with cattle, horses, a roping arena, goats, a pig named Eloise, and a dog named Hank.

We then moved to a house next door to my grandmother, Nanny, which was 3 acres down from my uncle, and just down the road were my great grandparents, more uncles and aunts and a multitude of cousins (yes, all on the same road...we practically owned the town).

Washington State, 2010

Washington State, 2010

As a child, I was always outside playing. My brother, step-siblings, cousins, 2nd cousins...everyone was always outdoors doing something. We would climb trees, camp in the yard, jump on the trampoline, ride horses, four-wheelers, or just play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the neighbors. I was ALWAYS Michalangelo and I was ALWAYS bitter about it. I mean...nunchucks?!? Seriously? You will never live that down, Mitchell Klein. This was my neighbor who always managed to be Leonardo with the cool ass ninja sword. Anyway.

When it came time for high school - the outdoors were still a thing. I ran cross country, I played varsity tennis...but it became less and less of a fun thing and more of a necessity of sport. What happens in those transformative years as a teenager is such a bizarre turn of events. Life is altered forever. You want so much to be a different version of yourself - you don't seem to know what to do or where to turn.

Now, as an adult, I've noticed more and more that what made me thrive as a child is what I subconsciously long for as I grow up.

There's a Scandinavian philosophy called Friluftsliv. The word translates to “free air life” meaning a philosophical lifestyle based on experiences of the freedom in nature and the spiritual connectedness with the landscape. The reward of this connectedness with the landscape is this strong sensation of a new level of consciousness and a spiritual wholeness.

Now - yes - I get it - being a child, growing into a teenager and then ultimately an adult...you're moving from much more freedom to a more structured way of life, caring for yourself, developing your own life, etc. But the idea of Friluftsliv still takes me back. If I were to climb a tree as an adult - what thrills that would provide! Sure...it would be different than as a child, but the view from the top would be all the same. Isn't that what we're aiming for here?

I've researched another philosophy called Hygge - it's Danish. Hygge often translates to "cozy" though it's connotation is much deeper than that. From what I've gathered it's like "sharing fresh pizza on a rainy night with your besties while Adele plays in the background, snuggling around a warm fireplace with newborn baby scented candle scent wafting through your palatial Parisian townhouse." Or something like that. It's essentially whatever-the-fuck-makes-you-happy...ness.

Oftentimes, it's the remembrance of my childhood that makes me happy. Climbing those trees, playing with my cousins doing the dumbest things possible that are oh-so fun, walking to MeeMaw and PawPaw's house to pick vegetables from the garden and collect the eggs.

Being outside. Being happy.

Our adult lives are spent indoors, on computers, in meetings...and we think that that is life. But is it? Where's the thrill of riding that horse thru the pasture? The thrill of finding the perfect hiding spot in the one little opening of the shrubs that you could actually crawl under?

The point of growing older is not to forget. But to remember. To cherish. And to get outside and get comfy.


Image courtesy of  Armin Roshdi

Image courtesy of Armin Roshdi

There's a book that I've read a few times called In the Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant. The book, while it may be about romantic relationships, speaks to any and all relationships in life. The long-term relationships, the friendships, the one-night stands. Every sort of relationship is discussed and the author sets the tone that every single relationship in your life whether it's 30+ years or 30 minutes long - it's meaningful and this person is in your life for a reason.

So why is this relevant right now?

This week was my follow-up appointment with my surgeon. The point of the visit was to check in, make sure my incision was healing correctly, and to address any other concerns or issues I may have had. Since I've no real issues beyond my general OCD - the appointment was quick and seamless.

After...say...3 minutes, Dr. M. shakes my hand and says, "Well - this is it. I don't need to see you again."

And he left.

I sat dumbfounded for a bit. Pondering the moment that just passed. About how this part of the journey is seemingly over. Part of what sent my mind reeling was that there's this man...this man who SAVED MY LIFE...and he's all "see ya on the flip side."

Surgeons are like superheroes. They save your life - they leave - and on to the next one.

I can't help but feel a little empty. I've had an extended family in the Upper East Side for 6 months. My surgeon, his PA, his scheduler, the nurses on 14N, the lady who always brought my food while in the hospital...all these people came into my life and we went on a journey. A frickin' JOURNEY!


Now it's over. We've finished what we started and we can all move on. All of these amazing folks have changed my life...given me life...and there will always be a special place in my heart for them. But I'm like...can I come to your Hampton's house or your Christmas Party? Send you a birthday card? Don't leave me now!

But I have to understand and digest the fact that this is what all of these folks have signed up for. Their calling. Their gift to the world.

It's something I may never understand, but it's something I am ever grateful for.