peaks and troughs
no course, no playbook, no map
I came back from Tahoe, shoulder knots loose and untethered from a weekend in the mountains. Summer is an ode to clear running water, yellow moss, upturned saplings, the heaviness of post-rain air. We ate steaks at midnight. When the sun sunk, it lit up the edges of the sky in rivulets of pink and gold.
Certain feelings re-occur at different points in your life. What I felt, that pink evening, when have I felt like that before? Leaving London: its glossy cobblestones at Christmas. I cried because I felt so happy. So lucky. But also because I felt the path diverging sharply. On the impossibly pretty drive through Park City, Utah, the purple mountains curving into parking lots, into the deep embankments of snow and cement. San Francisco in the fall by Presidio park, unable to predict a single thing about my life. The particular influx of both wonder and uncertainty in my chest.
Life has no course, no playbook, no map. It’s just a series of peaks and troughs. Recently there have been moments of great clarity followed by days of deep uncertainty. I doubt what I’m good at all the time. I catastrophize a lot. I’m surrounded by a lot of intense, smart people who are also deeply insecure. They tape it up with self efficacy but it still leaks out all the time.
I’m trying to swim in my own lane. I’m still writing, still frenetically reading when the work day ends. I’ve figured out how to stand on my own two feet. How to take care of myself. How to write for no one at all, how to write for one particular person. How to show up and keep my own promises. For some years I didn’t register fully how hard that could be.
I like writing this substack because I can tell the truth about who I am at this point in time. In memory it’ll appear as a tumultuous yet exploratory time. The details will gloss over as they always do. For now I’m… searching. For what? I’m not sure. That’s okay. Some types of questions require yielding to. You have to dig through and excavate them out of yourself. I don’t think a job or a place or a person can give you the answer. The journey is gathering experiences as they appear. Darkness or lightness. Gifts in their own way. As you stray from the path, you breathe in the world. You deepen.
What I’m trying to say to you is, whether you’re at a peak or a trough: most feelings are recursive. They end and they begin.
If you’ve felt it once you’ll feel it again. All the joy and delight. All the loneliness and rootlessness. If I’ve lost once I’ll suffer loss again. If I’ve loved once, no doubt I’ll love deeply again. To orbit gently across these cycles with humility, with an open heart: that’s the game.
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📚 Currently reading:
Scaling People: How to be an effective and empathetic leader in high-growth environments. As I start to manage people at work, I’ve been thinking about how to provide a) structure, unblocking, roadmaps and b) vision, belief, empowerment. A great manager does a) and a great leader does b).
Museum of Human History: After a 5/5 rec by A, I immediately added this to my to-read list. About a young girl frozen in time in a world obsessed with youth and self-preservation.
🌳 Recent plans: A picture from Tahoe. Steak, wine, and cold, crisp air. Nothing better!
⚡Upcoming energy: Self advocacy for what I believe in and what I want. Knowing that the right opportunities come around with patience, humility, but also a little bit of exertion and shaping through will.
🎧Podcast Note: I recently recorded a podcast with Spencer for Audience of One! We talk about writing, endurance, and heart vs head heaviness. I was a little under the weather recording but really enjoyed the convo.