Learning to stop looking down the road

I realized this morning that one of the things that has been keeping me from writing here has been the feeling that I need to somehow bring the blog up to date. However, every day that I go without beginning that update means that there is just more to write. I find the amount of detail I’d like to offer overwhelming in its volume and so I write nothing at all. So I decided to just dive in, sans a comprehensive recounting of the mundane events of recent life and just talk about where I am.

I had something of a revelation recently that had to do with contentedness, joy and the practice of allowing myself to accept my happiness. I’ve spent many years of my life wishing myself forward, wanting to be anywhere other than where I actually am. I got in the habit of mentally existing a few miles down the virtual road when I was in elementary school. I wasn’t particularly happy in those days, as my tendency towards sincerity (coupled with a love of reading and a chubby belly) made me a target of teasing and playground harrassment. All the trusted adults in my life would tell me that it would get better as I got older and so I started focusing on that time, believing fervently that life would transform when “I got older.”

And they were right, things did get better as I got older. My sincerity and care for other people transformed from a handicap into a virtue of my personality. While I never really lost the chubby belly or the love of reading, these things slowly stopped causing me to stand out. However, the thing I never lost was that belief that my future life was always going to be better than the life I was currently living. So even in times when things were good, I couldn’t appreciate them because I was already focused on what was coming next as opposed to what was right there.

Right now, I’m in one of those phases where things are remarkably good. I have a boyfriend who I adore and with whom I am deeply comfortable. Living with him is fun, never boring and only occasionally irritating. Wonderful people continue to wander through my life and choose to befriend me. I love how close my extended family has gotten since cousins Amy and Jean moved back to Philly from Portland. There’s also going to be a new baby in the family this summer (she’ll be the younger sister to Derek, who has become one of my favorite photography subjects) and we are all excitedly awaiting her arrival.

I have a job that I like, where the people are nice, my commute is a block and a half walk and I don’t feel like I’m being punished for some wrong I did in a previous life. In addition to the full time job, I’m also still working as the lead blogger of Slashfood and every day I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be a food writer and editor. I feel so proud of what Scott, Angie, Thad and I have created with Fork You (last weekend’s Fork You Live was particularly wonderful, even I was amazed at how delicious the food turned out to be). And I’m going to be writing for my cousin Serena’s Grass Routes Travel Guides, helping with the second edition of the Portland book and co-authoring the Philadelphia one.

The blessings are abundant.

There are also still struggles. My parents are experiencing upheaval on multiple fronts, and don’t know exactly what the future holds for them. It is sometimes painful for me to look on from the outside, knowing that there’s really nothing I can do except listen, love and hold the knowledge that they all things are essentially well. There are others in my family and community who are in crisis, mired in uncertainty, sadness, pain.

I’m learning that no matter what’s going on in the lives of others, I can still appreciate and enjoy my own happiness. New agey folk always talk about living in the moment, and while I’ve always recognized that it was something towards which I should be striving, I never really understood how you could actually get to that space. Now I’m learning to relish the stuff I have, to focus on the all the good things that are happening in my life instead of dwelling on the bad or the things I want that I don’t have yet. I think these may all be steps towards that previously un-attainable goal of the now.

This is not to say that I’ve gotten to a place that is perfect or that I don’t do daily battle to maintain my balance or presence in my current time and space. But it’s getting better and it is a joy.

9 thoughts on “Learning to stop looking down the road

  1. Pax Romano

    A wise folk singer once sang/said, “These are the good old days” – man, the older I get, the more I understand that.

    As an outsider I must say that you appear to be one very lucky woman. Enjoy it and savor every moment; you’ve earned it.

  2. julie

    You are luscious *and* awesome! And much beloved! This is the good part of being an adult (which is sometimes very difficult) – getting to a place where you learn to surround yourself with the things that you need/want/and treat you right.

  3. Diane

    Perfect days in life are so rare that old folks can count them on one hand; however, there is something perfectly beautiful in every day of life. I always told my kids NOT to look forward to the future, but to appreciate each day as it comes along and be as happy as possible with what the day holds. It makes no sense for anyone to agonize over what they don’t have — whether its “stuff” or ralationships. A happy person is a person who can’t afford the new shoes they want but finds a sense of satisfaction in shining the old ones up until they gleam. None of us knows what the future holds in store or if we will even have a tomorrow — today is the only day that counts.

  4. Christian

    Marisa, your blog is better than ever…full of substance and as thoughtful as ever. Your adoring fans, count me as one of them, are always caught looking forward to your next adventure, random meeting, and kitchen appliance/utensil update…

  5. Marisa

    Pax – Thanks, I do feel pretty lucky.

    Julie – It is definitely one of the nice things about being an adult.

    Diane – I love that thought about finding satisfaction in shining the shoes, thanks for that!

    Christian – That’s so nice to hear, I’m so glad that you still stop by.

    Raina – Thanks chicklet!

    Neil – Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m glad you liked the joy.

  6. Melodee

    Oh, it’s been forever since I’ve been by–glad you are still blogging! I’m haphazardly updating my blogroll and thankfully I don’t have to remove you!



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