Finding comfort in 2021

Much of my adult life after getting my full G license has been earmarked by trips I made out of town, the adventures I embarked — many times on my own — and the new things I tried. A year was a successful year if I travelled a lot and if I did a lot of interesting things.

This year, I walked on a frozen lake. I finished writing another novel and started five others. I got my writing published in print for the first time. I changed my “career,” again. I went to the ER because I cut my finger while trying to slice butter. I had a very active summer where I learned to play frisbee, tennis, and how to do the breaststroke in Lake Ontario. I paddled out to Delaney Bay on three hours of sleep to watch the sunrise in a canoe. I made a dress and wore it to a friend’s wedding.

While those adventures brought colour to my year and made it “cool,” they are only a small percentage of my year. The bulk of my days were made of quieter moments, moments that did not seem that important in the present until I learned to understand them for what they were. 

Can you tell I have a knack for gardening??? Look at that bountiful arugula harvest that could feed a village LOL

I memorized the sounds of the city from my 22nd-floor apartment. The hum of the winds outside as they sweep past my windows and doors. My green couch has learned the shape of my body when I nap. I found a great carrot muffin recipe and now know to bake them for six minutes longer to account for the oven’s inaccurate temperature. I learned the rhythm of my boyfriend’s breathing on Sunday mornings, and grew accustomed to the feeling of his t-shirt beneath my face when I sob into it.

I went to a lot of family dinners, where I was surrounded by people with whom I have inside jokes spanning decades, shared in my mother tongue that few people speak around the world. I texted my sister, which would have been a strange concept even just two years ago. I let my walls down for long enough to get to know my boyfriend’s family and friends and learn to discern their voices. I laugh at memes with my friends whilst we muse about adult problems and every kind of heartbreak under the sun.

TBH, Chinese New Year will probably look exactly the same next year too.

Twenty-seven years is long enough for anyone to become jaded. While growing up, I thought the way to happiness and fulfilment was by the way of validation that I’d garner through my adventures and achievements. So I placed a lot of emphasis on travel, picked up a wide array of hobbies, and constant moved the goalpost further out so I would keep striving for more. I had packed my days with excitement so that everything glitters and on the surface, there is nothing wrong.  But beneath it, I was frequently disappointed and struggled immensely with my identity, confidence, and my relationships with people.

But throughout this pandemic, I have been realizing that maybe the effective antidote for my dissatisfaction is not more adventure, but more gratitude. Gratitude for how the wind flows through my hair in the car when I’m cursing the Toronto traffic. For the return of unobstructed breathing after allergy season. For the first cold snap that descends in late fall and the initial smell of ice in the air.

The ice cream truck that charges $3 for a cone and inspired me to write my first short film.

Gratitude for the chorus of laughter with my friends and I as we talk about the same five things for the millionth time. For the warmth of my boyfriend’s hand when he reaches over to hold mine in the car. For the bags of food my mom makes me take with me every time I visit home for dinner. Gratitude for the first sip of sweet coffee on a weekend. For the flowers I’m learning to identify in spring. For the warmth provided by my fort of blankets on the couch.

While the mundane lacks adventure and therefore is woefully uncool, it is filled with comfort I am starting to view as blessings. This year, I found that comfort in the cracks of the ground beneath my feet and the bold paint strokes of clouds in the sky. I wish the same for my 2022.

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