Last year, after my dad passed away, as I was writing the eulogy for his memorial service, I asked my mom and sister to share memories with me that, to each of them, captured or conveyed who Dad was, what he valued and how he lived his life. Mom shared a memory that has stuck with me—and has, in moments since, become a part of my life, too.
She told me and Kathryn that, over the years, throughout the summer and into the fall in Northern Michigan, Dad would occasionally take the boat out on Crystal Lake by himself before making dinner. (Anyone who knows our family knows Dad was the cook—and a really good and talented one at that.) Dad would take a drink with him and told Mom that, out on the lake, he would toast his parents, telling them how great his life was and how blessed he was.
This short story is emblematic of Dad’s gratitude and approach to life—his approach to living.
Earlier this year, my friend Mayura Sen and I were both feeling a bit stumped creatively. We weren’t finding the creative time, space, energy and inspiration we once had—each in our own ways, each for our own reasons. So we connected in early February to chat about creativity and the creative slumps we were in.
Mayura is a visual artist. I’m a writer, a wordsmith.
I can’t quite remember what we spoke about that day. A mix of the above, I suppose. But the text messages that followed were synchronistic, serendipitous and just … a little bit magic.
On Sunday, February 14, 2021, I was baptized at Kensington Church in Traverse City, Michigan. That morning, I shared the following words – my testimony – with my family, friends and members of the church.
I grew up going to First Presbyterian Church of Northville with my family. I was baptized as a baby and confirmed as a freshman in high school. In high school, I joined youth and adults from my church on two mission trips to Mexico. Those were transformative experiences for me, and looking back, I can see how they played a role in shaping who I am today and planted a seed for the life I’m living now.
Growing up, church was always something I did with my family. My faith and relationship with God didn’t come to feel like my own until I was 23 years old and living and working in Berkeley, California.
30. I’m supposed to have it all figured out, right? Husband, house, kids, stable job. That’s what society tells me, at least. I turned 30 at the start of February and check none of those boxes. In a lot of ways, I’m more confused than ever before. But I also know those boxes aren’t for me at this moment in my life. If I were in those shoes, so to speak, I would likely feel as though I’m selling myself short. I would likely yearn for this life I’m living now – with all its beauty, adventure, potential, freedom, fear, self-doubt, [occasional] loneliness, unknowns, challenges, etc.
As I start life in my 30s, I’m searching. And I’m quite sure anyone who’s spent time with me in recent days, weeks and months knows or can see this. I’m searching for who I am, what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’m searching for my purpose, my place and who I am in and with and through God.
And while I’m mostly living in the present and looking forward these days, as I started this new year in my life in February, I couldn’t help but look back on all that 29 was. Here’s where I landed.
On Sunday, March 8, I took off on a five-day road trip from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, my home base, to Pucón, Chile with a family of four friends from Traverse City, Michigan, who are in their third month of a three-month sabbatical in Argentina. Now, a week later, I look back on photos and videos from our day crossing over to Chile—and also me launching a crowdfunding campaign for a short documentary I’m directing and producing—and feel as though that was a lifetime ago. It’s amazing how time altogether sped up and slowed down this week. The world is certainly different than it was a week ago.
My friends and I were all aware of Covid-19 and, more or less, how and where it was spreading, but the reality of what this strain of coronavirus is and how quickly and easily it has and can spread hadn’t hit home yet. Wednesday evening, our last night in Chile before crossing back to Argentina, that all changed.