I’ve been predictability for a long time. I was Bendability for awhile. I’ve been many things over the years, but the only thing that is always the same in my life, the one consistent thing, which earned me my predictability nickname, is that I am always looking ahead, to the next place, the next thing, the next iteration of me. Never settle. Predictably changeable. Predictably inconsistent. Predictably seeking. Hey man, cut me some slack. I’m a gemini.
When I was a kid, and later, a young woman, my mom lectured me on learning contentment. I’ve gotten the “bloom where I am planted” speeches from various sources throughout my life, and the dozen or so different therapists I’ve had a session or two with were interested in talking about my restlessness, but I have come to love it as a part of what makes me, me. Even my mom has come to terms with it, I think. Or at least she doesn’t chide me any more about being discontent.
My itch to know what’s out there, what comes next has been built into me since I was a small child and I was tunneling through the blackberry jungles of our property in Oregon. It was there when I threw my whole teenage heart and soul into a religion that led me to a dead end and stripped me of much of my faith. It was there when I set out with four unruly girls in tow to see what else there was to do in the world, and it’s the reason those girls are so wildly perfect.
When I read about Lewis and Clark’s Dismal Nitch, it spoke straight to my soul. For three days, the explorers and their party of smelly guides and trappers and tag-a-longs (not the Girl Scout kind) hunkered down on a tiny beach with barely enough shelter and barely enough food to get by, with their ultimate destination after an unthinkably hard but world-changing journey, almost in sight. For three days they waited out howling storms, relentless rain and freezing cold, knowing their goal was THISCLOSE. They were almost there. They had nearly arrived. But the Dismal Nitch was the place that kept them alive. It wasn’t THERE. It wasn’t where they wanted to be, but it was necessary. That’s where I am in my life at any given time. Taking shelter from the storm, financially, emotionally, whatever weird weather comes my way, dug into a little beach with not quite enough of whatever it seems like would make life perfect, and not quite to the destination that might be my ultimate spot.
But let’s be honest. Did Lewis and Clark quit seeking after they left the Dismal Nitch and ran into the Pacific Ocean? After an arduous return journey, the two adventurers tried their hand at a few other occupations, politics, diplomacy, businesses… Neither one settled into a longterm profession to live out their old age, and both stories continue on with turmoil and intrigue and drama that made the Dismal Nitch seem like a distant, peaceful memory.
Even though I like life to move a little more slowly now, and I can appreciate couch time with the best of them, I don’t know that I will ever be able to tell a longterm tale of one occupation or have the secure knowledge that I have “arrived” and I am finally ok with that.
I am learning, unlike poor Meriwether Lewis, to be more careful on some counts, and with the help of Certain Individuals, I am reluctantly embracing the need to plan my financial security and my physical health around my restless quest for what’s next, and I am learning to love the Dismal Nitch.
Some days, I love it more than others, but I every year I get better about riding out the storms and enjoying the ride along the way.
So that’s why the Dismal Nitch. While I am here, I am gonna bring all the things that I love about it, about where I am Right Now, together and share them. I’m gonna funnel all the things about the Nitch that make it great into one place so that even I can go back and remember why the little beach is better than the big, angry river, no matter how close I am to where I think I want to go.
As it turns out, most of the time where I want to go wasn’t nearly as good as where I was, so it’s ok to just hang here in the Nitch, with all of you, ‘cause we’re all in this together.