December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
When I was drinking white wine instead of water as I danced all night at the New York Athletic Club last new year’s eve, I was not thinking about what good and bad decisions I would be making in 2010 and how they would pan out.
That night, to the limited extent I was thinking about anything except a nightcap and whether anyone on Seamlessweb would still be delivering at 4am, I was thinking about how to keep the world out; how to keep my feelings in; and how to survive after the dust settled.
In the days and months leading up to that sparkly, tipsy holiday at the Athletic Club, I had been back and forth to California on a large client project for my then-law firm, working with a client I truly enjoyed working with, and with whom I had grown quite close.
But I had also, in the span of a few short months, split from my husband of five years (my partner of seven); run my first marathon; climbed a mountain; been in four different countries; and traveled between New York and DC and San Francisco and Monterey/Carmel every week since August. I had moved out of my marital apartment; and out of the transitional apartment that Andrew and I had rented in Battery Park City; and out of the place I’d been renting in DC while I’d been doing a lot of work in that city; and finally, taken all the flotsam and jetsam of my many lives out of storage, and moved myself into my own place.
The story of the chaos is nothing new, and it is something I’ve recited so many times that when I tell it now, it seems almost as if it happened to another person — as if I am telling a character story, and the Meredith in that story somehow ends up better or worse or more or less changed than I do.
At the end of the client project, when I was at the end of my tether, personally and professionally, a member of the team who had grown to be a very dear friend finally said, “Go back to New York. For a while. Sort things at home.”
The advice had not been hostile, or condescending, nor had it had it carried the specter of suggestion that I had not been able to conduct my life properly. But it was wisdom that no one had bothered to say aloud to me until that point, and was something I very obviously needed to hear.
But I had two choices: to try to continue as I had been — and have a 2010 that would be as chaotic as 2009 and 2008 had been. Or to go home and try something new for change.
I wrapped things up in California, and I went home. To a new and empty apartment.
The choices I’ve made in 2010 largely reflect the choice to come home and sort things here (and, in some ways, having a mercifully empty head at 2010’s opening volley).
I don’t know if it was wise, per se, to pull back, and reassess and come home. But I do know that how I had been living was unsustainable. And unrewarding. And ultimately, was part of the reason I am no longer married — because marriage requires both people to be not just all in, but so all-consumingly in that each is part of some sum exponentially greater than the individual parts.
Each one becomes a two — an individual, alone, and together, parts of a greater whole. Each one, as a two, is then, exponentially greater — not merely as a figure of speech. The magic of two is that two twos is four. Two twos summed is four; two to the power of two is also four.
The power of two is remarkable.
I was really good at growing as an individual, and nurturing my husband as an individual — growing us like two plants in separate pots on the same windowsill. But I could never yield to twoness; could never take my sapling self and stand to be replanted in a shared pot.
After this year of slowburning fire; incremental change replacing the upheaval, I am looking back over that catalytic piece of advice to sort my life on the homefront, and reflecting on where I now stand.
I am, perhaps, not ready to uproot myself again, and am not prepared to plant myself in any pot other than this one in which I currently reside. Alone. But the sorting out of my life at home has opened my eyes to the prospect of twoness in so many other realms. And made me realize that the vast, exponential universe of twoness and twosomes is something I am perhaps not yet ready for, or prepared to dive too deeply into just yet…
But looking forward, I am lightening up. I am giving myself a break. And the power of two means this year of sorting things out at home has given me much more faith in second chances.