The Trigger

Close your eyes. Okay they are closed. No, no close your eyes for real. They are closed! I insisted squeezing my lids together harder but not so hard I’d form wrinkles. A familiar, melodic voice walked me through a meditation. Possibility, he said as he described the ocean in front of me. Possibility is everything in the ocean moving towards you. You don’t have to do anything, Emma. Just let it wash in. I swallowed my argument and continued listening as he repeated. Do nothing. Let good things come to you.

Had it been a yoga instructor or a friend or my mother, I would have counted down the moments until I could voice my already formed argument, opened my eyes and promptly rolled them. But this voice came from my very first love. The kind of love where you learn everything about love. The love that teaches you what love is and how to do it and how to fuck it up and put it back together and hold on tight…and then let go. The love that makes you certain with all of your heart that he’s “the one” then adamantly convinced “the one” doesn’t exist. And all before you are twenty two.

A decade of life later, when that love talks, I still listen. Like a naive, too-trusting twenty-year-old, I take in what he tells me. I don’t second guess it. I don’t call his bullshit even when I know he is making something up. Like the time he told me that Christmas was actually on the day the Roman Empire had its largest orgy. Or the time we were laying in a grassy quad under the summer night sky, and he manufactured constellations based on the single star he could actually identify. I just listened and let him think he was teaching me something insurmountable. Because he was. Not about stars or Christmas, but about enigmatic love in the felicity of life. Sitting on that beach with the possibility water washing over me, I was transported back to when I was eighteen: wide-eyed, unprepared, slightly gullible, falling in love with the idea that the world was a magical combination of mystery and determination.

Along the way, determination superseded mystery. Maybe I was brain-washed by various institutions or maybe I am just too pragmatic. I disregarded the mystery of the universe in place of intentional perseverance. And like most humans, I’m egocentric. I have to stamp every good thing in my life as mine. I made it. I nurtured it. I went for it and boom – mine. For most of my life, I have been an achiever. Headstrong and determined, industrious by nature, I learn, adapt, and try really fucking hard for my dreams. My goals. My endgame. It works because I make it work. I have a job I love. I have a beautifully decorated apartment, healthy lifestyle, can run quite far and bend in a few impressive postures. I cross travel places off of a list and make one new recipe per week. I have an entire wall of sticky notes with giant check marks on them. When faced with a decision, I choose and confidently pull the trigger.

That’s all great. But at one point, laying in that quad, I truly believed – or pretended to believe – that there exists a master planĀ greater than thou that will unfold with minimal effort. Along the way, I replaced that beautiful if credulous belief with the time-tested methodology of hard work. In one fell swoop I’m ready to just kick back and let everything I have ever wanted in life come to me? Well no. But his real point was that I have laid enough foundation to reap some of the reward. Like I don’t have to keep grinding away and grinding away and grinding away. I can relax. I can have fun. I can let some good things happen to me without having to claim stake in their materialization. I can believe that all that is possible in life will likely come to me in due time. And best of all, I don’t always have to pull the trigger.

FullSizeRender (12)Emma Dinzebach

Open for Business

I was stripping off my tank top in the Barry’s Bootcamp locker room when I heard my name. The voice was an ex coworker who had left to pursue her acting career. Emma! she shrieked and ran over to me. How are you? Did you ever work things out with your ex boyfriend? My head tilted. My eyes squinted. What? I asked. Your ex boyfriend? Did you guys ever get back together? I was always wondering about that. God no! I laughed – a maniacal, satanical laugh. I haven’t even thought about him in weeks.

She reached out and squeezed my hand. So you are open for business! she declared. My face twisted like I had eaten a sour patch kid. Amazing! I have a plethora of guys I’ve been wanting to set you up. She laughed. Do you have time for a juice? I looked at the time. Um, no sorry. I am going to shower because I have a date tonight actually. She squeezed my hand tighter. Ohhhhhh, with whom? Just a guy I met online. I don’t really remember who he is to be honest. It’s my last online date, so I’m just going to shower and head over to meet him. He blue eyes widened.

You are going to shower here?! she asked loudly. People in the shower line turned to look.

Uh, sure, I said uncertain where this was going. And it’s your first date? I nodded. Emma, do you want to have a successful date or not? Well, I don’t really care… I started before she chimed in. Do you believe that you reap what you sow? Huh? I tilted my head. If you shower at the gym with no hair products or sexy music or wine, then you are robbing your evening of a solid foundation. You aren’t setting yourself up for success. Showing up with a sweaty gym bag? She pointed dramatically to the black bag on the bench. If you never want a second date, then wear your wrinkly outfit with your hair still wet underneath. If you just really don’t care… But if you really don’t care, then why go on the date at all?! She released her grip to toss her hands up in the air. Ugh, actors.

The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

liptstickThe moment I uttered those two words magic words – You’re right. – she shoved my sweaty tank in the bag and passed me my pulllover. But I’ll be late, I insisted. Better late and give it your best than on time but mediocre. Mediocre, I repeated as I headed out the door and into a cab. Mediocre, I thought. Mediocre isn’t so bad if you have a mediocre subway ride or a mediocre wait at the dentist’s office, but to show up mediocre on your first time meeting someone? That’s just rude. What I had hated about the cardigan, New Yorker guy was that I thought he didn’t put his best foot forward. Then I was set to show up without putting my best foot forward? What a double standard hypocrite I was.

I threw my bag down and turned on my pump up music. I poured a glass of wine. Quickly but deliberately, I showered and got ready. I choose nicer underwear, a fresh outfit and put on legit heels. It took too long, but I added some waves to my hair. I chugged my wine and blew out the candle. Twenty minutes late and quite frantic from the last minute rush, I saw my incredibly handsome date stand to greet me and was happy I had sown something worth reaping. Our date was wonderful. The kind of date that happens in movies – with candlelight and cocktails and quintessential butterflies. Staring into one another’s eyes and showering one another with compliments. We kissed on the street. A taxi came towards us. That one’s too soon, one of us said. He leaned down and kissed me again.

The next day I popped out of bed and put on the tea kettle. I sat down to write in my journal so that I didn’t forget who caused this blissful feeling. I couldn’t remember every detail in the romantic whirlwind of our evening, but made sure to note that intentional choice had been a catalyst to success. And then I thought about my friend. I had eye rolled her melodramatic insisting yet taken her advice because she was right. It was true: you reap what you sow. Day by day. Moment by moment. Choice by choice. And if, with a little intentional effort, a casual date with a complete stranger can become a potentially significant life affair, what was possible for the rest of my life? I thought about the way I show up at work, how often I write on my blog, the time I spend with my friends. Am I squeezing my life in rushed hours or am I mindfully making choices each and every step of the way? I get out what I put in. If I put in mediocrity or hurriedness or haphazard decision making, then I get a bit of what? Sometimes boring chaos? If I made as much effort for my cooking skills, my book, my hardly existent volunteer efforts as I did last night’s date, my life would be fucking amazing. She inspired me. Or he inspired me. Either way, after that date, more than one part of my life became a lot more open for the beautiful business of being me.

Emma Dinzebach