To What End?
"Lately that shit ain’t been getting me higher.
I lift up my head and the world is on fire.
I don’t wanna lose but I fear for the winners."
There’s a tire shop on 10th avenue. It’s brought me more joy than maybe any other place in New York City. I don’t have a car or a backyard. My need for any kind of tire is essentially nonexistent, and yet, it’s the best example for how I find fulfillment in my life.
The tires are stacked, white marker writing decorate their exterior. They make the sidewalk a bit narrower so every time we used to walk by them, we would veer right, hands intertwined.
Every time we’d walk by, the joke was the same. The pitch in my voice, the same. The way I delivered it, the same. The hand squeeze as I said it, the same.
His response, daily, would be to laugh, stare at me, and say, “I just don’t get why that makes you so happy.”
I didn’t know then, but I know now.
Because the seasons didn’t matter — whether it was summer and I hopped over puddles in sandals, snow with winter boots, days of speeches or panels with heels in a tote bag, days with sneakers on when I hit his arm for beating me to the joke — it made me happy because the joke had nothing to do with what I do, it had everything to do with who I am and what fulfills me.
It was simple. It was a moment that couldn’t be stolen from me if a contract fell through or if a flight was canceled. It was anchored in me, in who I was becoming, in who I’d fought to be.
It was the first thing I thought of when, “to what end?”, was a question asked of me a few days ago. Because those three words hit me in the heart the same way “I love you,” always does.
Put together “to” “what” “end” ask you where you’re going, why you’re going there, and how it will fill you once you arrive. It asks how you’ll be more figured out when you get there. What about getting there will suddenly fulfill you more than you are right now? I don’t know, my breath hitched when the question was posed to me.
“I don’t know.”
Then I sat. Then I was like, actually, I do know.
My answer isn’t boggled down by analytics, or other people’s perceptions of me, or superficial metrics of success, or making it, or “I’ll be happy whens” because, well, weeks of a cancer scare strip you of anything that is number or 'other people's opinions' based. It leaves you with your people. It leaves you with tires.
"Every bridge that you keep burning
every leaf that you keep on turning
every road that you find uncertain
pray for you now
baby, that you'll figure it out"
Love. Family. Writing just because the words have to go somewhere, fringe benefit to that is that maybe someone else will read them.
“To what end?”
It asks you who is at the end of the tunnel…is there anyone even there? Or if the tunnel is pitch black and you’re running toward a goal, do you know what it is or are you just letting momentum push you wherever it wants?
Who has power over you? Why do they have that power? Do they use it wisely? Do they know it’s a gift? Are they taking advantage of you? Are you letting it happen? Why? Are you in love? Where’s it going? Are you in the middle of space? Is it serving you or are you serving it?
Space, silence, and “to what end” have been readily invited into my life and they all serve a role in getting me through and getting me to.
To where? Well, in January I was searching for peace by way of silence. I wanted to speak to only myself, to listen to what I had to say on the topics of love and staying and friendship and family. I knew I had opinions on these topics I just needed to uncover them. I needed to face them, to let them remind me what my own boundaries were.
So, January gave me a foundation.
But it’s not January anymore, it’s the middle of February or as I know it, the six week mark on the health scare that eclipsed 2018 for me so far. The first few of those weeks were spent thinking I had cancer and was going to die, the next few of them were spent waiting to see if I had cancer, was going to die, and also going through a biopsy and recovering from it.
"To what end?"
To learn my body, I think. To understand the power behind it. To navigate external beauty and understand how beautiful and strong the bruising and swelling on my left breast made me feel. To be anchored in the importance of taking care of myself, I guess. To learn humility and that being unable to pick anything up with your left arm also means it’s hard to open a water bottle with your right.
To learn humility. Because being humble isn’t superficial acknowledgements that you played a small part in a big feat, that’s a humble brag. Humility is sitting on a couch, crying, because you know you wouldn’t have been able to get through this season alone because you couldn’t even open a water bottle alone.
"To what end?"
To accept humanity, I have to believe. We exist in community for a reason — to be responsible for each other’s hearts and well being, to remind each other what taking care of each of those looks like. I needed to learn a lesson on letting others show up for me because for too long I gave free passes and filled gaps for myself. I have needs, they deserve to be met. I have trying moments that require your presence and participation if being in my life is something you want.
“One day this will fucking end. And I know the one person that’s going to remain constant…I should just enjoy this while it’s there, but not let it become my reality. Because that’s not the reality I want to live in.” — Ed Sheeran
What’s real? What’s fake? Is the picture showing you that I’m walking under a waterfall or is it showing you what the camera wanted you to see?
I choose reality. I choose brokenness. I choose love every single morning because my “to what end” looks a lot like understanding that fulfillment comes at the hands of my people, of myself, and not of my achievements.
Some would say I have an impressive career. I would say I have a career that is gratifying, but in no way the end all be all of my fulfillment.
Some would say I have an impressive life. I would say what moments are you looking at? Because I’m looking at tires.