Hi, My Name is Temporary: How I’m Learning to View Life
My name is Sarah, and I am temporary.
I first heard the phrase, "everything is temporary," from my Mom; a woman who is my inspiration, as she is exceptionally in-touch with her inner-self. This phrase has stuck with me, and in the last few weeks has been the single thing pulling me out of bed in the morning.
Flashback many years ago when this conversation came to light: My legs were crammed up against the back of a passenger seat, an enormous pile of luggage teetering to my left. I was completely boxed in, except for a cracked window on the right, letting in the cold mountain air. If my father had the sudden NASCAR urge to circumvent a slow 2001 navy Subaru in front of him; the dog and I would be the first to feel the effects of luggage, and snacks crushing our lungs. This would most definitely be the case if said Subaru lacked winter tires. My Father would be on the gas pedal the second he saw the Massachusetts tags.
We were taking our yearly pilgrimage from East Pennsylvania to Sugarbush, Vermont. A skiing haven for my father, and a cheese, chocolate, ice-cream wonderland for myself. I am rather happy about that version of myself; my current self has a dairy allergy. Oh the joy of innocence. This fifteen-hour drive also tested the bonds of our family, as any long car ride would. Enter in screaming about directions before the phone GPS was cool, with a map that was still shoved in the glove box of our car. This also included complaining that we needed to stop for a bathroom break for the third time, invigorating my father as he could smell the fresh snow powder three states away.
Regardless, when I exclaimed loudly I was going to up-chuck my peanut butter and fluff sandwich (my 90's kids know what a Fluff is), he pulled over. I was never kidding. With his driving skills and the winding roads of New England, my stomach never won. However, it was on these trips my Mom would take the opportunity to pull me away from my Mario Kart Nintendo DS and talk about the meaning of life. Especially post-throwing up on the freeway: games would only further make me sick.
To you, this may not seem profound. But in retrospect, a woman full of energy, now in her twenties, we often are coated with the feeling of immortality. A road paved ahead that touches the horizon. A path that we will diverge from, and seek astray adventures. My point? We have a road - why would we not? Yet we take it for granted. So many don't have the paved asphalt or even dirt lines. This is a privilege. For many, a road is nowhere in sight.
I didn't come to this realization right away of course. My Mother often repeated it numerous times throughout my life until it was ingrained in my brain. Until finally, I was telling it to myself every day.
By stating I am temporary, I am equally claiming that my road is not only un-mappable but also not guaranteed. I often feel extraordinarily humble and grounded in the beauty of life as well as with the unknown when claiming this ideal. Additionally, I hold a deep sense of sadness. I can't help but think that this is where our sorrow originates; the in-depth knowledge that everything around us is a temporary experience.
I believe this is the sadness we are supposed to feel daily. It means we value life, and love the people in it. It makes us fight just a little harder to see more, do more, feel more. If you feel depressed, anxious or angry; know it also means you're alive and adding layers to an emotion you need to explore. Whatever your season is right now, it will change.
When I was first deciding if I fit the category of "Artist" (a word I still do not like but muster for the sake of explanation); I didn't know what it meant. I considered myself an artist from a young age. It started with oil pastels, then molded into digital gaming maps, finally into writing, screenplays and the visual arts. I exclaimed to people, up until this very moment, I want to leave a mark on this world. I want to cause change and bring awareness. While this is earnest, I now truly understand that an artist is this intense fire to capture the temporary. To be selfish and selfless at the same time; following down paths that call to you even if they seem frankly impossible. To run down steps then back up them because no goal is straightforward. No goal is as you planned it, or how you mapped it out to be. Because maps don't exist; just the idea of them. That's why visualizing where you want to see yourself, these milestones, they're crucial. But do not think you have the power to decide how fast you drive there, this is not the speedway. You have no control - because you don't know. The lessons I learn daily are usually the ones I don't expect.
Being young is hard, being a parent is hard, being old is hard. Trying to survive in the art world isn't easy. So is all the other careers and jobs. But knowing that you have the opportunity to look back on a full-life? Well that's easy. You have free will. Your current situation is temporary, don't you dare even think twice about it.
Written by Sarah McKinnon. 2019.