A reader, who works in finance in London, writes in this morning to say, You have been very quiet lately and it’s been noted! Your public needs you, and, in the manner of most of my correspondence with Lux Lotus readers, the sentiment mirrors my own.
I remember once reading that women were reportedly happiest in their early-mid-thirties. At the time, I was in my twenties, and still idealizing my teenaged self, for her fearlessness, her frank candor, her willingness to go anywhere and do anything because it was bound to be an improvement. I thought that, because I was out of touch with those feelings in myself, having replaced them with other more necessarily "adult" philosophies, that my best self was disappearing in the rearview; lost for good. I think of that girl now and then, while I am walking down the street, and I realize that she never would have believed how good my life would become in just fifteen short years, that I would spend my days passionately engaged in stimulating endeavors, with plenty of freedom, creativity and solitude, that I would have a beautiful home, that I would travel the world, and most importantly, that I wouldn't always feel like I had to leave to make things better. And I can't believe my luck.
I did, though, have an image of my future self in mind when I was a teenager. It was just one frame of a film. She was me, very severe, wearing a tailored suit, Gaultier or something de rigeur in the Nineties, standing on a penthouse balcony high above the city, very still, very content, and very alone. For many years, I still thought of that archetypal woman as the person I was trying to reach, because if I were alone, I would never be hurt again, and if I were standing on a penthouse balcony, I would be rich. Success.
Now that I am on the cusp of turning thirty-three, I am far enough away from my twenties to look back on them with some of the nostalgia I once reserved for my adolescent self (I remember describing her, with a sense of awe, while in bed with a new lover a few years ago: she was unstoppable). My twenties, though, I always overlooked, because they were so filled with compromise (which I once found terribly unsexy), sacrifice, and hard work that left me feeling so often beholden to interests other than my own.
That young woman of my twenties deserves more credit than I give her. I made difficult decisions that I might not be brave enough to make now, on a regular basis, about a job or a person or a situation being right for me, had I not made them when the stakes were higher than I ever could have imagined. I made the unpopular choice that was right for me, more than once, and I am better for it. Still, though, I always thought of leaving, people, especially, if they didn't do what I wanted them to do, or they got too close, and might possibly tap into the suspicion I suppose most people have, that deep down, we are not worthy of the love we so desperately desire. That was my thing, at least, and it was easier to be alone, than to question whether the person I was, so self-reliant, who had survived on ingenuity and dedication, could be wrong about that crucial fact. Of course, we are all worthy of love. It's all around us, waiting for us to say yes. It's that simple.
It took me a while to get there, though. I thought my thirties would be all about glamour, and money, and extravagance. That's certainly how they started, with me finally able to attain things that had eluded me for so long. Thing is, what I've been looking for won't be found in the reflection in a chandelier, although I've certainly gazed into quite a lot of them in the past couple of years.
Lately I've been working, going to parties, and having all the little, and grand, adventures (and bubbly), you might expect. Most of all, I've been thinking about what obstacles remain in my path, and which habits of a lifetime I'd like to strengthen and which ones I'm finally ready to let go. When I have something to share with you, you'll be the first to know. I can promise you that.