In my room there are probably 30 blank notebooks. Some have one or two pages of scribbles in them.
I always liked what blank notebooks signified. Fresh starts. New ideas. Second chances. So I always bought a new notebook when I entered into a new phase of life. But I hardly ever wrote in any of them.
Now I have tons of blank notebooks.
In one way, it’s kind of poetic. Like I’m a gust of wind. I’m a walking jubilee. I’ve been everywhere but nowhere.
But in another way, it’s kind of sad. Like I haven’t built anything. Like my dreams never materialized.
What do I have to show for my life? Blank pages.
For my job, about 90% of the papers I edit are from authors whose first language is something other than English. A lot of them have problems using transitions, such as “however,” “therefore,” “furthermore,” etc. Either they don’t use transitions or they use the wrong ones. So their paragraphs are a lot of independent sentences that don’t connect to each other.
I think I have the same problem. I think I have so many blank notebooks because I have problems with transitions.
I don’t know how to build things. I don’t know how to connect all the pieces of my life together. So I leave them splintered. A sentence in one notebook, a few words in another.
I pack up my life and move to Madison, where I don’t know anybody. I pack up my life four years later and move to Denver, where I don’t know anybody except Kalyn. I start a new blog. I run from pain. I fill my head with ideas but never put many into practice.
I always thought the best stories came from doing things. From seeing the world and experiencing new things. From living a transient life that never slows and is never in one place for long and is constantly uprooted and forgets the past and moves on quickly and feels light and free.
And maybe some stories do come from those things. But they would be splintered stories.
I’m beginning to think that deep, meaningful stories require a certain stability. A connectivity. They require transitions.
Without transitions, my life is just a ton of random sentences, never forming a meaningful paragraph, paper, story. And those transitions are not found in the wind.
They are found in familiar walls, and in learning where floors squeak.
They are found in the cohabitation of the past and present.
They are found in patience and consistency and deep roots.
Now, I am not saying that travelling and seeing the world and living freely are bad things. I actually think they are extremely valuable. But in order to be meaningful, they need something to connect them all. Something deeper that runs through them and is building something.
But what is this thing? What are these transitions that I am talking about? I am not really sure, to be honest. But I think they are related to love, and connection, and being known, and honest conversations, and working through pain. And I think those things require stability.
In order to build something, you need to connect pieces. You need to stabilize.
And right now I am not very good connecting. I am not very good at stabilizing. I am good at running. At avoiding. At moving on.
But I want to learn how to transition the parts of my life into one cohesive, meaningful story. I want to learn how to fill notebooks, and to talk about the intimacy of familiarity. I don’t want a blank notebook of a life. I don’t want to always be starting over.
Question: How do we live a meaningful, connected life? What are the things that connect our story together? How do we transition from one phase of life to another without completely starting over? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, because I need help figuring it out.