June for me has been filled with special events, brimming with merriment and emotion. Some big fat occasions went down, not least my sister's 30th birthday and my best friend’s wedding. Big occasions like this are things you see in your future for years before they arrive and then when they finally meet you it is difficult to comprehend.
My sister and I used to have (rather dull) conversations that went like this
“In the year 2000 I’ll be 16 and you’ll be 14”"Ages" came around pretty bloody quickly for me, and so did the future.
“In the year 2010 I’ll be 24 and you’ll be 26”
“When will we be 30?”
“Oh not for AGES”
We saw our futures mapped out by dates and numbers and in that youthful way part of us couldn’t wait to get there. Now though, we’re there. We’re right here. This is life happening TODAY. It’s rare I feel able to really appreciate that reality, but when I do it knocks the wind out of me.
This is the feeling I had in the weeks before my sister's 30th. We’re only 2 years apart and very close, she’s always sort of paved the way for me. Before I open a door, I know she’s been through it before. When something new happens for me, it happened for her a few years back. Although this is wonderfully comforting as I make my way through life, her leading the way like a silent guide, it also means I am very aware of my near future, as I see it painted on her. With everything she does, every milestone she reaches, I know it won’t be long before that’s me.
I had the same feeling when my friend got married last week. I had expected to feel inexplicably proud, emotional, elated – and I did. What I didn’t expect was this overwhelming force, like a drug, a force which was so potent I literally could not contain it. I sniffled the entire way up the aisle, trying to smile and be in the moment but just actually completely floored by what this moment meant. I don’t know quite what shifted when I saw my stunning best friend descend down a fairytale staircase, Eta James in our ears, floating towards her prince, her fairytale, her future. I had pictured this moment for 18 months, but despite all my apprehension, the second I saw her it all felt so real in that moment, so clear. This is it. This is her future, happening now. This is our lives, unfolding. We’re not students thinking about our future anymore. This will be a moment I tell the grandkids about and dear god those grandkids are gonna be here sooner than I think.
It was incredible and it was terrifying, and then I got steadily drunk and then it wasn’t the reality that floored me anymore, it was the wine.
An intense reaction I know, and to be honest not one I fully expected, but I’m so happy that actually there was a realisation moment. It is rare I am able to really see what’s happening right in front of me, and it was a euphoric moment which I have been able to hold on to. Some kind of happiness and gratitude has stayed with me since and I think it’s largely down to that moment of total consciousness. So often we take giant leaps in our lives and we fail to feel it, because it happens so gradually and we’re distracted by the mundane. We’re living out the job we once only imagined, we have the partner we wished for, or we are just living this amazing, unique life and we don’t realise it because we are so bogged down in the detail, perfecting every element in our minds.
For a long time in my early twenties I felt like I was waiting for my life to start. Even now there are times when I realise I am thinking about “when I have my own house, when I have kids”, as though my life isn’t really real until I have the full set. The irony is though there is no full set. Life just happens, every day, and if you aren’t present there to feel it then you will miss it. There is a scene in Sex and the City which always strikes a chord with me, in which Charlotte (the perfectionist of the group) is crying at her own wedding, over some detail, and her best friend tells her to get over it, because “you’re missing it.” “Missing what?” asks Charlotte. “You’re missing your wedding”. That scene could have been written for me, for the times I have agonised over detail when actually some pretty amazing stuff is happening right before me.
As I look ahead to July, it isn’t filled with big occasions, but it is filled with my life. I am looking forward to the respite, but more than that I am excited about just living my life, hopefully with the same consciousness I have felt in recent weeks. It shouldn’t take a big occasion to make you realise that your life is unfolding right in front of you, but sometimes you need those reminders, you need that step out of the norm to gain consciousness. It doesn’t matter what those big things are – you might be graduating from uni or going on holiday or just watching someone close to you make a big change – what actually matters is how you feel in those moments. It’s not how much you have; it’s how you feel it. Too many of us get so distracted by the detail of our lives, looking ahead out of fear, that we look straight past the right now and fail to see it..
June 2014 you have been one of the most memorable, pivotal months of my life so far, and I can’t wait for what’s to come.