Five Years’ Time: A Letter

Dear Kate,

People love to ask, “Where do you hope to be in five years?”

I am not so foolish to say that five years ago I would have wished to repeat the many mistakes that led me to this seat at the kitchen table, snow falling onto the railroad tracks, against a backdrop of red brick and metal, 100 feet from our window whose crooked, off-white blinds are partially obscured by Tennyson, Sartre, Emerson, Salinger, and even Picoult.

But I do like this view.

I am not so wise to believe that every choice I have made has guided me towards and into some truer, more precise version of the person that life intended for me to become.

Because life does not have intentions. People do.

Because every choice is not serendipitous; some are, bluntly, mistakes. I believe if you are doing it right, many are mistakes.

Five years ago, I probably would have said that I hoped to be living independently, have an apartment where the number of books outnumbered the pieces of furniture, that I would remain curious enough to consistently start and end new hobbies, and that I would be working a job that not only challenged my physical and cerebral limits, but that brought any amount of joy to the soul that inhabits those limits.

I think even five years ago I knew that in a world whose composition is dictated by things like deadlines and bills and “the way that it is,” joy is so oft forgotten.

I think I would have answered that I would hope to remain idealistic. I have recently developed my own understanding of idealism: it is the attitudinal condition that predisposes people to believe that concrete actions still somehow add up to the picture of the world that you and I talk about after my third beer. It is what positions intention and purpose as a given in our existences. We can never be in search of them because by necessity, they are already present.

I do not think that five years ago I anticipated the opposition that everyday life sometimes presents to idealism. When we find ourselves at odds with the lives we build, action by action, it is because the big picture of our third-beer world has slipped out of view. Five years ago I did not realize how easily and how quickly it can slip out of view when unattended.

I also did not realize how easily, because of one person, it can slip back into view. I did not realize how easily one person can prevent it from ever slipping out of view. Thank you for being that person.

Five years ago, we had met once.

But if five years ago I were asked where I hoped to be now, and I could see this seat at the kitchen table, snow falling onto the railroad tracks, against a backdrop of red brick and metal, 100 feet from our window whose crooked, off-white blinds are partially obscured by Tennyson, Sartre, Emerson, Salinger, and even Picoult, I would have simply answered: “this.”

Love,

Sarah

 

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