I’m getting ready to pound the final nail in the house of My 39 Things. Is it six months past deadline? Yes. Does anyone other than me really care that I missed this arbitrary deadline? No. Ok, there are a couple of you who are kinda be dicks about it…but I know you’re only trying to keep me motivated.
I set out on this project as a way to hold myself accountable to a consistent writing practice. As with most creative ventures, my consistency ebbed and flowed.
My inspiration shifted depending on what was happening in my life. Sometimes the ideas would come so fast, I had to split my “thing” into three (Hallmark!) Sometimes I struggled so hard to find something to write about that I wrote about not having anything to write about.
This project gave me the gift of helping me process my internal world by making connections in the world around me. It forced me to pay attention on a whole new level. In the past, my writing was only for me. Broken-record scribbles in my journal about my insecurities and desires, and my ambitious plans and the anxieties that stifle them.
This project put me face to face with my internal narratives and forced me to get honest about them. It provided a platform to share them “out loud” to you on the internet. And a subsequent responsibility to live in alignment with the things I declared.
It’s no secret that when you’re hyper-aware of something, signs will emerge. You know…like shopping for a new car and seeing that car everywhere. Your eyes are wide open. That’s the best way I can describe the past 18 months with this project.
Some signs were literal. One night during an intense conversation with a friend, the neon sign from the dry cleaner across the street progressively glowed brighter as the evening passed. By the end of the night, the portion of the sign reading, “ALTERATIONS” was blinding.
Some were more subtle, like the hummingbirds that repeatedly showed up during a difficult week delivering comfort and reminding me to connect with joy (and perhaps start believing in guardian angels).
Most importantly, My 39 Things taught me a lesson in vulnerability. It’s so much more powerful to open and dump out your messy compartments than to keep the stuff in your junk drawer hidden from the world.
Seeing other people’s messiness makes us feel less alone in ours. No one is alone in their struggles, even though it sure can feel fucking lonely when you’re in it. The more we courageously admit and share the yucky stuff, the more we help people around us. Often without even knowing it. And having the patience and curiosity to understand each other’s junk drawers is one of the most powerful gifts we can give.
The contents of my junk drawers are currently strewn across the floor. I’m sifting through and tossing stuff. This is the work I’m committed to right now. It’s not easy. In fact, some days I’m debilitated by how strenuous it is. But the beautiful byproduct is having plenty of space for the things I truly want to keep, and more importantly, the treasures I’ve yet to collect.