I Live Here - By Brynn Scally
If we had power over the ends of the earth, it would not give us that fulfillment of existence which a quiet devoted relationship to nearby life can give us.
I have lived in Houston now for 15 years. For the first 14 years of being here I said that we were only here temporarily. I blamed it on the flatness of the place, the political history, the weather. These are all excuses for my unsettled spirit, this human condition of thinking we need something other than what we have. It has taken me a long time to realize that every place you live is essentially the same because it’s (as Martin Buber illuminates) all about the relationship we curate with our surroundings.
I have always lived in places that are geographically easy to get away from. I was born in Michigan, then grew up on the border of Idaho where we could just drive across a bridge to Washington. I moved to Reno Nevada at 15 which bumps against the foothills of the Sierras and is only a 30 minute or less drive to California. From there I moved to Las Vegas and spent many weekends in LA, Palm Springs or San Diego. After College I moved to San Diego where I could drive down to a new country in the morning and still have my whole day ahead of me. On to Tahoe, then New Mexico. Whether the geography formed my thinking or I was unconsciously drawn to these places I don’t know but I have always struggled with the urge to escape.
Being a stay at home mom with young babies can be a hard adjustment with this restless mindset. I remember, more than once, in a free moment of alone time driving out on an errand, having the fantasy of not ever turning around. The freedom of just driving away. But of course I came home. The thing about Texas is that I could drive for 10 hours and still be in Texas. But it wasn’t really about Texas, it was about the riding the wave of being in a relationship with my life, even with all its messiness. Developing a home and coming back to it again and again.
I was asked recently to write out my goals for 2021. I couldn’t think of any so I drew a small circle made of arrows that all lead in the same direction. Along the sides of the circle I wrote a few things in my little world that make me whole, “family”, “garden”, etc, each leading back to each other. Here in this space my only goal is to create a genuine relationship with my “nearby life”. My work daily is listening wholly, tending to my relationships by showing up honestly and being honest about my own tendency to yearn for something else, and to bring myself back. The daily repetition is a practice, which is why happiness comes with age, we are practicing being human. If we stay put we can see that there is no perfection that happens with this practice but there is joy and surrender.
So the goal of 2021 is to stop having goals. Stop reaching away from the circle. By curating and loving this small circle, by staying still I’ve been able to witness this circle expand. The children, the geography I am in, the space I take up right now is my greatest teacher. I am here now, having a relationship with this small space and this is the happiest I’ve ever been.