I try to grasp 2022 in my hands now, like it’s a putty I can infuse last year’s essence into. It’s ambitious to sculpt art from a year so dynamic and I’m tempted to let 2022 live where it now lives: in the past. In near and distant memory. In photo-fossilized moments. In emotions that weigh like gravity. In retold stories, warped now with time and subjectivity.
The last year was an ambitious year, and so in art, I will aim to honor it.
My 2022 begins with a decadence of light beams and sound waves. I dance and drink and kiss my way into the new year, blissful. I love new beginnings but the transit into 2022 is a tough one.
Despite my dancing decadence bliss, I don’t understand how sick I am. My health is at a critical point. I am 23 years old and I quit my serving job because my body can’t keep up. I am moving through a mild mourning for health I never had, for a little girl who grew up sick with migraines, body pains, and stomach aches. Abandoning travel plans, I dedicate the first six months of 2022 to a functional medicine program. A dedication to healing.
But I fear hope. I struggle with believing I can commit to a lifestyle shift, even one that champions a sustainable health transformation. I do it anyways, commit, and by July, my life does change. I come to know what good health means beyond a textbook nutrition course or optimal lab results. To experience what health feels like in every waking and sleeping moment, and how to sustain it, is an empowerment I will carry with me throughout my life, like a new tool in my toolbox.
Unemployed idleness breeds creative endeavors, and at the beginning of 2022, the ZonaRoots Collection is an ambition that no longer lived in my head. A quaint thrift flip hustle, the Collection makes its way to local markets and onto online selling platforms.
I contribute to the ZonaRoots Blog, writing about past travel and the fluctuating plans of my anticipated backpacking trip. In my planning thread, I write about postponing my travels even longer, rooting down a little deeper, and making space for healing.
It is a joy to build something that is expressive and in this joy, my fear of putting too much of myself out there begins to dissolve. ZonaRoots is close to my heart and serves as a platform to create and curate content that is my own; a foundation for whatever may spring from it.
With articulated consciousness, I begin to understand that I can choose how I want to be in this life. I am unsure what I believed before - maybe I’d think too much about what I want to do with my life. It matters little what I do, but the energy and quality of what I choose hold higher value to me.
A little before the middle of the year, I am momentarily struck by a feeling that resembled grief, but I cannot pinpoint what has been lost. Covid’s ‘new normal’ is settling, I am building a business, happy in a relationship, and transforming my health. Life in Arizona is comfortable. From where I am, I picture a cozy, beautiful future.
This must have been what scares me.
I am not yet ready for comfort or settling or coziness. I feel too young to see my future. Gone, it seems, is the magic of unpredictability. I haven’t yet answered the world’s call that sings in me like instinct. ‘Explore me,’ I hear the earth whisper. ‘Follow me,’ my dreams forever scream.
For a while, I brush off these worldly commands and ignore intuition. ‘I’m busy now, I’m content here, I will later.’
Content is the ignorant.
I try to solidify a future on top of raging, watery, unrequited dreams. But these dreams rumble and simmer and refuse to be stilled into dormancy. These dreams demand unconditional pursuit, and it is here that a feeling of grief swells up. I mourn dreams I thought had died. But I realize now, it is a crafted life of comfort that cannot survive.
And so, after I ‘graduate’ from my health program, I answer the world’s call: it’s time to travel.
There’s always a risk of unmet expectations when a dream has lived so long in your head. But my travel experiences transcend my fantasies of far-off adventure. Exploring distant, unfamiliar lands with strangers in strange cultures becomes my new normal. Sitting in cafes with a group of new friends, walking down curious city streets, immersing myself in some natural wonder, I often, almost automatically, utter the phrase ‘I love life.’
Travel is a transportation into the unknown. It is here that you gamble with coincidence and flow, all the while learning about the many manifestations of humans and nature. You journey alongside many walks of life, getting a glimpse into realities other than your own and worlds beyond your perception. Reinforced is the idea that life is what you choose. Empowered are the travelers, led by itineraries of intuition and curiosity; empowered, especially, by the exploration of the self.
As I travel (ZR Collection on pause, single and carless), I understand something true about my nature, a tendency: I build roofs before the foundation has been laid. Back home, I had been building a future that flowed not from intuition but floated on treading dream clouds. It’s a practice to remind myself to relax into flow, to not dive head-first into shallow pools of initial excitement or make moves from spaces of fear. Build foundations, presently.
The truth is that last year, passed by time’s tidal, is not so intangible that it lives only in the past. In 2022, my footprints marked new territories. I danced with a fluidity and flow my body has never known; I’ve written poems and prose and essays, all for me; I’ve had conversations as deep as ravines, made bonds that bridge continents; met eternity and got lost and continuously found my way home. It is here where 2022 lives, in the tensions that have dissolved from my muscles, the ease of my breath, the settling of my nervous system; in the vulnerability and strength of a mind and heart, opening. The past year layers like sediment on my body and psyche, packed onto me both as the pinnacle and foundation of all that I am, have been and will be. Presently, a canyon of putty that can harden to stone and melt from form.
Cheers to 2022 for making so many of my dreams come true.
I fall back, fearlessly,
on the unpredictability of flow,
for now I know:
I seek sedimentary –
a settling only of particles
fallen into place.
Year by year,
by what has passed;
with what may lay next
from the fall,