Hinterland, Week Four: October was a little anticlimactic (and so is life)

Hinterland, Week Four: October was a little anticlimactic (and so is life)

There’s this scene in Gilmore Girls when Rory realizes she needs more than good grades to get into Harvard and completely freaks out.

RORY: Good grades aren’t enough. I need to do things! I need to volunteer! I need to work for charity, I need to help the blind, the orphans, I don’t know. I just need to do something.

DEAN: Fine, but what does this have to do with tonight?

RORY: I need to start now.

DEAN: Now? You have to help the blind and the orphans now?

RORY: Didn’t I tell you that I was ten years behind?

DEAN: Well you can’t make up for ten years in one night, Rory.

RORY: I know. I just need to get organized.

This scene was essentially my entire day on Friday.

I woke up with the intention of looking back on October and writing a post about the first month of Hinterland. That would have been nice. Instead, I woke up and started evaluating everything I’ve ever done and ever hope to do.

Which is why six hours later I came downstairs and announced, “I haven’t invited any homeless people over for dinner! I don’t know any refugees! And we watch too much TV!” Then there was something about, “If you want to see a zebra you could just go to the zoo but THAT’S not even the point!”

I have no idea what the point was.

This is what happens when the cold truth of reality clashes with the suffocating heat of unrealistic expectations. A storm is likely to brew, and you will likely lament your lack of commitment to hiring a safari guide to help you find zebras in African wilderness (this portion of the analogy came later… I still have no idea).

October, as freeing and exhilarating as it felt at times, ended up looking a little anticlimactic in the rear view mirror. I started out by saying “I’m going on a great adventure!” and ended up talking about kosher salt.

When I realized this, my first instinct was to panic (#zebras). My second instinct was to think I had terribly mismanaged the whole journey, that maybe I had taken a wrong turn as soon as I pulled out of the driveway. And so I started making lists and plans and more lists and more plans so that next month, I could look back and have more to show for myself.

Which begs the question… what “more” am I trying to show for myself?

October held a road trip to Ohio, a visit with great friends, an adventure in a treehouse. I learned how to make bread—ciabatta, English muffins, pan loaf, honey whole wheat. There was a veritable kitchen revival, complete with short ribs and brown butter and meringue and the aforementioned kosher salt. There were so many friends over for dinner and so many dinners at friends’ houses. I finally got to fulfill my dream of living in a neighborhood where lots of kids trick-or-treat. (We ran out of candy and it was awesome.)

I didn’t volunteer at a soup kitchen, but I did bring warm cookies to my neighbors. I didn’t submit thought-provoking articles to respectable publications, but I did publish actual content here four weeks in a row… something I haven’t done in four years. I didn’t figure out who makes the clothes I buy at Target, but I did exchange clothes with friends instead of buying new ones. I didn’t figure out how to conquer landfills and my contributions to them, but I did pick up discarded candy wrappers the day after Halloween. (Which, for Pennsylvania, means Whatever Day Your County Has “Trick-or-Treat”. Don’t get me started.)

And also I quit my job and started a whole new life. So I’m not entirely sure what “more” means.

I think part of it is a personality thing. Apparently INFJ’s “get restless and disappointed” without a defined goal to work towards and apparently I would make a great case study for that trait. Maybe “figure out how to take Jesus seriously” is too ambiguous as an overarching goal.

But I think a larger part of it is that sometimes (most times), we expect sweeping life change to be cinematic. I never would have said it or even intentionally thought it, but in my mind, Hinterland looked like Eat, Pray, Love or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It did not look like kosher salt.

You know what does look like kosher salt? Real life.

There is not a single movie script that has time for “decides to put kosher salt in a glass jar she found in her basement.” You will never watch that happen on a screen. You will probably watch yourself have a hundred thousand of those types of moments in real life because you have more than 90 minutes to fill and can allocate a few of them toward wandering around your basement.

While my INFJ side would probably want something a little more quantifiable than this, I think one of my goals for November is to chill the heck out. To live real life, and enjoy real life, and stop evaluating everything to death. Because it is death. There are few things that feel like they have the potential to suck the life out of this season more than goal-ifying it.

Thus, I hereby promise not to turn a great adventure into a great checklist. Please feel free to hold me to that.

I also hereby promise to stop talking about kosher salt, because I think we’ve more than met the threshold on that topic. (You can hold me to that, too.)

P.S. For the curious, here’s a brief resource list of good things that were discovered/rediscovered in October and where to find them:

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