The chickens are smallish and pink and frozen in vacuum packed plastic in the giant cooler in the extended cab. The poop- and feather-covered empty orange poultry crates are stacked in the back of the truck. It's still pre-morning-light early, and I'm at my favorite coffee shop in this neck of the woods. Although, it's quite foggy - so it's hard to tell.
There's a stretch of road on the way to the chicken processor, just after a major intersection, with big orange and white striped barriers: Road Closed to Through Traffic. They don't exactly block the road, they sit in the outside lanes of traffic, with enough room for cars to still pass through. We detoured around this blockage when hauling pigs last week. I detoured around it yesterday en route to Twin Cities Pack. But this morning on my way to pick up frozen chickens, with the sliverest of a crescent moon in the southeast sky and big-bright stars in the pre-dawn morning darkness - I decided to just go through. To be through traffic. Just to see what would happen.
And as I passed through the zone of road construction (which had zero construction being constructed on it) I heard the voice of my future self.
Just keep going.
This is quite possibly the least exciting advice of all time.
When I envision meeting my future self in that coffee shop for a sit-down advice session, the one-year-in-the-future version of myself seems taller than me and confident and her hair is long and straight. She doesn't have much time for me, mostly because she knows I already have the answers that I need. She doesn't have time for my histrionics. Melodrama. All she does is remind me, encourage me, to just keep going.
And as I rolled through that non-construction zone this morning, driving beyond the far set of Road Closed to Through Traffic signs, I became almost lost in fog. Actual fog. Fog so dense I couldn't see in front of me. I couldn't see oncoming traffic until it was under my nose. Fog that made me drive so slow because I knew there was a stop sign ahead and a 90-degree turn at the end of the road and I didn't want to miss either. It was at that point that I realized the true value of future self. She is the vision I can hold in my head of the-job-when-done, the completed task. When I feel like the project at hand is too big, too stupid. When I feel I am in way over my head. When I doubt my endeavors and my ability to complete them satisfactorily. When I feel hot and panic-y because the grass mowing, grant writing, floor sanding, web designing seems (literally) endless. When I run up against the curious ROAD CLOSED signs. When I am lost in the fog and chugging along at a turtle's pace. During those times, I need something concrete I can hold in my mind that reminds and encourages me that the end is a real thing...that there is a destination...that something will come of this. (Even if I don't quite know what it is right now.)
Because there are a bazillion road blocks (literal and metaphorical) to stumble through. Hazard signs warning of imaginary danger. Traffic jams. Road outages. Places where the road ends and you drive through gravel for a while. When you run out of gas. Flat tires. Or, in the tradition of my parents, when you drive on sidewalks that you are clearly not supposed to drive on but it seems like the only way to get where you need to go. (If only you could see how hard I am laughing as I remember that last one.)
Future self can serve that role for me. A concrete reminder to just keep going.
The birds are outside on a quest to peck as much bird seed and suet as possible The fat squirrel is on a quest to thwart the bird-only feeder system and eat more bird seed. The women at the table next to me are on a quest to understand Jesus. The insurance man at the table directly in front of me is on a quest to not smile back, no matter how often we meet eyes and I smile at him.
PUT DOWN EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING AND READ THIS RIGHT NOW. Stardust, Brenna Layne.
Note To Self, Sitting in absolute silence. Marina Abramović friends. Can't wait to listen to the podcast, but hot dang, if the newsletter isn't chock full of amazingness as well. This is one of the must-listen-to-as-soon-as-it-comes-out podcasts on my list.