Lime and Ash
For the last three months, I've been traveling a lot, which is to say more travel than usual for me. I'm lucky enough to have a remote job as a programmer and live nomadically. I've had the company of those dearest to me during this time, exploring places both familiar and strange. I spent two months in Asia, mostly in Taipei, with my boyfriend. I then took a whirlwind tour through Croatia and Spain, hopping to nearly a dozen destinations with longtime companions and new friends as well. I write this now from my home in Los Angeles, strolling through the calm of the neighborhood I grew up in. It's been a roller coaster, with some of the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life packed into a short time.
What I reflect on now is how this trip has impacted me with so much change in my life. Every day is a new day, and lately, every day is newer than the day before. I'm thinking about now how that change is inevitable. Our lives are imbued with it, constantly shaping us, like the tide shaping the stones along the shore.
Thinking about change in my life has gotten me to think about what shape I will have with the tides of life. Am I just going let life has its way? To rust and rot, and simply have each piece that breaks off slowly swept away into the sea? Or will I be deliberate, so I will grow with that change?
When I was in Croatia, I saw a lot of ancient Roman ruins and I became most interested in the ports. The Romans successfully built these ports to last for centuries, yet modern structures with steel and concrete last only a few decades and constantly need repair, being eaten away by the ocean waters. What did the Romans learn that we haven't yet? What allows their creations to resist the relentless corrosion of the sea?
The Romans discovered that if you built the ports with hydrated lime and volcanic ash, the material would react with the seawater, creating a chemical reaction that allowed minerals to build up on the ports. In other words, rather than fighting the water, the Romans built structures that would naturally reinforce itself because of the oceans. These structures became effectively immortal, living and evolving, and stronger than when they were first built.
So what can I do in my life so I am strengthened by the waters of change rather than withered by it? What is my lime and ash?
I think more and more that I need a routine I build up - habits that accumulate into behaviors that harden into character. There are plenty of things I wish I did more regularly: read more, write more, create more...the list goes on.
So I've resolved to build in something new each week to my regular life, something small that will strengthen me, little by little. I began last week with my mind: I'm meditating 10 minutes daily now. Today, a week later, I've resolved to write a little bit more here, the results of which you are reading now. Next week, who knows? This month, my mind; the next, my body; and after, perhaps my relationships.
I expect some things may naturally fall off, parts that break off in chunks as they're not needed in the foundation I need. Even the Roman structures along the Adriatic have pieces missing. But with time, I may build up a routine that strengthens me, like the lime and ash makes those ancient ports monuments rather than ruins.
Time will tell.