My Cold, Dark Soul

Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts. I spend a lot of time in the car or  on the train or walking from Grand Central to my office. I’m bored with all of my music and harbor a deep hatred of listening to radio commercials. It’s the plight of a commuter, I suppose: suffer in silence or listen to Closer by the Chainsmokers for the fortieth time that day?

Enter podcasts, entertaining weary travelers since narrative audio became trendy and everyone from your hair stylist to your nerdy coworker started talking into a microphone and publishing it on the internet. I gravitate toward the health and wellness podcasts, seeking inspiration for my own wellness journey. I happened across one the other day that I haven’t been able to stop listening to: The Balanced Blonde‘s Soul on Fire podcast. Each week, Jordan Younger explores what sets her guests’ souls on fire. How did they turn their passions into careers? How are they living their happiest and healthiest lives? What advice do they have for others seeking to set their souls on fire?

So, naturally, I started to wonder what sets my soul on fire. The first red flag should have been that I had to wonder and it didn’t come immediately to mind like, “of course, French Bulldogs set my soul on fire and I should start a day care for French Bulldogs because that will be incredibly fulfilling.” Sure, I adore French Bulldogs more than the average person, but they still rank among one of the many things in life that just make me happy. I smile big and gush over their cuteness and stop my commute in the middle of Fifth Ave to awkwardly snap a picture of a stranger’s dog, but they aren’t a passion that fuels my life.

The second red flag was when I started trying to force passions. I like to cook and bake. Maybe I should own a bakery. A healthy bakery. People would line up for my kale brownies. I think I’ll open a bakery.

Maybe I need to change up what I’m going to grad school for. I’ve been reading about health and wellness for two weeks and I’m super into it. Perhaps I will study to be a nutritionist.

I’ve only just accomplished standing in tree pose for ten seconds without losing my balance. I think I’ll teach yoga.

I wound up frustrated when each impractical bubble popped shortly after they formed. Why wasn’t there anything that set my soul on fire? Was I doomed to wander this earth with a cold and dark soul?

I don’t know what sets my soul on fire . . . yet. I do know that writing makes me happy and I’ve sincerely missed it. I let myself get consumed with life and forgot to make time for it. Maybe writing is a passion I haven’t fully let myself explore yet or maybe I’m still figuring things out. Maybe blogging will help me do that.

What does that mean for Rambleathon? 

The blog has changed a lot since I started it way back in 2014. It began as a writing blog as I was finishing undergrad. In 2015 it transitioned into a humor/random anecdote blog (if that’s a thing) and I didn’t touch it in 2016 because writer’s block kicked in and I felt too pressured to come up with “funny” things to write about.

So now my blog has no labels. It is not a lifestyle blog or a writing blog or a humor blog or a health and wellness blog. It’s all of the above and none of the above. Feel free to follow along if you want. If you feel so inclined, comment and tell me what sets your soul on fire?

Unless I’ve just asked a question you can’t answer and you, like me, are now going through an existential crisis. For that, I am sorry.

Hats

I don’t remember much. Often if I don’t write something down I will forget it. My room is covered in old lists that say things like “do laundry” and “buy Dad a birthday gift” and “you have a job, don’t forget to go to work”.

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In spite of my horrible memory, I distinctly remember my kindergarten graduation. In the classroom, before we got in line and marched two-by-two to the gymnasium, we had to pick a hat to wear during the ceremony. We were to choose between police hats, doctor’s head mirrors, cowboy (or girl) hats, fireman hats, princess crowns, etc. The headwear was symbolic of our futures, of course. Of the great destinies we had ahead of us.

When it was my turn to choose a hat, I chose the princess crown. Even if a writer hat existed, I inevitably still would have chosen the princess crown.

I’d like to imagine that five-year-old me was standing there contemplating the choices my peers made as we congregated in the classroom, wearing these new identifiers.

Does Sarah like the doctor’s head mirror or is that what her parents want to see her wearing?

Does Emily really think she can pull off the police officer thing? I saw her steal that extra cookie at snack time.

Does Luke actually want to be a firefighter or was that just what that was left?

I wasn’t. I think I was probably standing in front of a mirror, admiring the sparkly crown on my head. Past me wasn’t as astute and observant as her present counterpart.

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I hope that at some point during the short walk to the gymnasium, I at least asked one person why they chose the hat they did. Did Michael love Westerns so much that the cowboy hat just called to him? And if so, does he own a ranch in Texas now? Or is he out in Hollywood producing Westerns with the memory of that cowboy hat still weighing heavy on his head? Has he forgotten that moment entirely and lives his life without harping on insignificant memories from childhood? Likely.

To me, being a princess meant moats and castles. It meant dragons and unicorns. It meant happily ever afters and magic. It meant that I was incredibly naive but also that my imagination was flourishing.

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In some ways, that princess crown was my writer’s hat.

One arbitrary choice made at the age of five does not define me. But, it is a part of who I am.

If you had asked me at 5, 10, 15, 20, or 23 what my life would have looked like at 25, I most certainly would not tell you something remotely close to the life I lead now. But, you would see it. It’s there. It was in that princess crown I chose. It was in every subsequent book I read. It was in every horrible essay I wrote for school and in every time I picked up a pen and unleashed my imagination.

You may see a princess crown but I see a writer’s hat.

Spoilers

When I lived in Boston a psychic set up shop down the street from my apartment. I have to admit, I was curious. Not about my future but curious about why this woman thought it was a good idea to open a psychic shop right in the heart of Janksville surrounded by college students who were more concerned with spending their dollars on beer than questions of destiny. Obviously she knew something the rest of us didn’t.

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Her presence in the neighborhood became more known when she left her crystal ball behind to market her shop on foot. At first she started passing out business cards in front of her shop. Then, she took a subtler approach by sitting in her doorway and asking anyone passing by if they wanted their fortunes told.

I got asked that question approximately half a million times.

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She might have been absolutely excellent at predicting the future, able to tell me exactly what I was going to eat for breakfast on my forty-sixth birthday and what I will name the dog I’m going to adopt five years, three days, one hour, seven minutes, and thirty-three seconds from now. I could have taken her up on her promise of knowledge one of the many times she asked me, flinging my groceries to the side and following her to her crystal ball and tarot cards.

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I’m someone who stays off social media the day after I miss an episode of my favorite show in order to avoid spoilers. I read books one page at a time, never even tempted to peer at the last page and find out what happens. I suffer through because I despise spoilers.

I always feared that one of the times I brushed her off she would reply “doesn’t matter anyway. You’re not going to be around much longer” or something cryptic and to that effect.

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I mean if I kept trying to offer random strangers knowledge that they probably didn’t really want and they continued to shoot me down, I might get a little annoyed and snap too.

But she didn’t. My future is still a mystery. I don’t know if I’ll have eggs and bacon or french toast on the morning of my forty-sixth birthday. Maybe I won’t even have breakfast at all. As for the dog, I’m still wavering between Chewbacca and Kal-el for the name. We’ll see how I feel five years, three days, one hour, six minutes, and three seconds from now

It’s the future. Anything can happen.

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