Confession: I’ve never held much faith in the divine.
In elementary school we would play MASH, folding fortune-tellers out of crisp notebook paper, trying to discern our futures from a schizophrenic jumble of words on carefully-colored squares. As young adults in the midst of quarter-life crises, on the cusp of adult responsibility and nostalgic for childhood optimism, we turned to the stars, seeking answers in astrological signs and natal charts, sprinkled with the occasional BuzzFeed or Cosmo quiz, light as cotton candy and skimmed hastily on a lunch break—Which Disney princess are you? Tell us what you ate for breakfast and we’ll reveal the name of your soulmate. If you check more than 15 of these boxes, you’re an introvert.
When I went through my first breakup, I was told “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” offered like a lollipop to a small child, equal parts consolation and condescension. We adopt sayings like this—Mercury is in retrograde, Saturn is in Capricorn—and tuck them away in our arsenal of stock expressions, things to say when there’s little else to be said. And these become conversational shorthand, bite-sized half-truths that never quite have the desired effect but instead take on a whole new meaning, leaving us to decipher the subtext. To exchange these is both love and helplessness.
The world is composed of small things like these, and to piece them together is to see it at its most idealistic, the way it might have looked in muted Technicolor on an old-fashioned television set blooming to life for the very first time. And to believe in these—even a little bit, even halfheartedly—is to seek comfort in predictability. In the blind panic of uncertainty, it is natural, easy, to search for meaning in the toss of a coin or the alignment of the stars.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown accustomed to skepticism, wearing it like heavy, expensive jewelry that I have to take care to remove, a weight I am always aware of. I’ve learned to question, to challenge. I’ve never liked “meant to be” because it lacked agency—reliance on the divine has rarely appealed to me.
But I’ve also learned to love contradictions. The unknown is a perilous what if spiral, a ongoing stretch of hollowing uncertainty, something I’ve learned to love not at the expense of agency, but as a peaceful coexistence. It is not resignation, rather the opposite; it is a conscious choice to go with the flow, a willingness to allow yourself to be carried in new and unexpected directions. It opens yourself up to possibilities, to the organicism of things.
Organicism. What a lovely word. It’s romantic in the best way—lush and ripe with potential, full and rounded with the magic of the universe bursting from it; the promise of possibility. It sings of fresh blossoms blushing under raindrops, the kind of freshness you want to dip your fingers in and drink out of your palm, tilted up to the summer sunlight. It speaks to the loveliness of the unknown and the serendipity of simply existing within it, being privileged enough to leave your mark on the universe, even in the smallest way.
I’ve always believed that the universe holds an inexplicable energy, something that carries you from one place to another, that shimmers knowingly in your mind and lights a fire in your belly. Faith in the universe doesn’t have to be limiting. Perhaps it’s not faith in the universe that I have, but rather faith in my own path through it.
Today is four years of writing this blog. I love the idea of continuity, and the longer I write these anniversary posts and birthday posts, the more I marvel at the strangeness of the inconsequential. Because inconsequentiality is relative, and rarely do you fully grasp the significance of an event in the present—instead you ruminate through a kaleidoscope of fragmented memories or rose-colored filters of nostalgia, ghostly echoes of your past life and your past selves, and it’s only then that the noteworthy ones become apparent, smooth stones rising out of the mist on a river. My favorite memories are not necessarily the hallmarks but the moments attached to very specific feelings, ones I can close my eyes and relive again, that make my bones ache and that light the darkness in my head like candles.
Every year I reflect on what this blog means to me and the things I’ve documented. I love that it’s like a part of me now. Every year is an opportunity to evaluate where I am and where I’ve been. Where I want to be. We sometimes mistake tunnel vision for ambition, praise single-mindedness and inflexibility as hunger. But that neglects the intrinsic beauty of the process, the importance of nuance. And it doesn’t make you any less ambitious to slow down, take stock, and appreciate everything that’s led you to where you are.
Over the years I’ve often struggled with deciding what this blog would be. I’ve always searched for an easy identity, some scrap of cohesiveness that I could use to package my whole self for presenting to the world. Every single article on how to start a blog will tell you to focus on one thing. To be “the go-to blog for [blank].” But I’ve never liked that approach—simplicity for the sake of cognitive ease. I’ve always liked indulging in complexity, and I think the reason people read this blog is that they find complexity relatable too.
And so this blog is a true reflection of my whole self; long, slow-burn ramblings accompanied by a clutter of vibrant photographs. A foil to the softly-filtered and perfectly composed lifestyle blogs. I love them, but sometimes reading feels a bit like consuming whipped cream—light and airy but leaving you craving real substance. “Authenticity” is in fashion, but like all things in fashion, it is ruthlessly cannibalized for easy consumption. And when everything is branding, authenticity becomes similarly hollow. If this blog were a food I would want it to be crème brûlée: indulgent, just the right balance of heavy and sweet that leaves you with a familiar satisfaction on your tongue. You, like me, are fascinated by what it means to be human—how we exist and why we exist. So when people ask me what I blog about, I’ve finally settled on saying that I like to write things that make people think.
I’ve learned to trust the process. Another cliché, but it should be noted that clichés, however unoriginal, are rooted in truth. Unoriginality is scorned in a culture that assigns value to individuality, even if that individuality is completely useless, but clichés offer reassurance that somewhere, someone has experienced what you have. There’s a melancholic poetry to a human connection that will never be visible, but instead lies in the strength of persisting conventional wisdom. Love and helplessness.
Organicism is what flows intuitively, a natural progression, what develops when you strip away the pretense of intention and savor the loveliness of being lost in the clamor of the universe. It’s a word of delicious contradictions, one in which everything flows naturally but only after you’ve given yourself completely to it, like diving deep beneath the crashing waves to where everything is bottle-green and still as glass, and you close your eyes and hold your breath as the noise envelops you like an embrace, hoping for the best.
We do not grow in one direction but many; we do not exist as fixed points on a map but as white-hot comets blazing across the infinite universe, leaving a trail of stars in our wake. We exist in iterations of ourselves, and that’s a beautiful thing.