I was looking in my closet just now and I realized something.
I have more shoes than sneakers.
It's the first time in my life this has ever happened. It definitely happened in the last year at a certain point. It might have been my journey into entrepreneurship that prompted it. Or it might have simply been a natural evolution of feeling older, or wanting my clothes to feel appropriate of how my age feels to me.
For whatever the reason, the amount of sneakers in my closet is now a fraction of an otherwise bloated amount of shoes.
The same thing started happening with pants this year as well. While I don't think my love of my jeans will ever fade (that might be a pun) I do know that there was time when all I wanted to wear was jeans, and now, sometimes I want a different kind of pants.
On the surface, this might all seem very superficial (if surface observations can be anything but) however, it all speaks to something larger and more prevalent I've noticed in my life recently:
The amount of grey.
I had a social studies teacher who told us about an interaction he had with a hippie once that went something like "Not everything is black or white man, sometimes it's just greyyyyy."
It's something I've always embraced mentally since the first time I heard it, it spoke to a sentiment that had been present in me for a bit of time at that point.
And it's that same grey that I'm realizing in several capacities as I get older.
For much of my life, being comfortable has meant finding the perfect outfit that I feel most comfortable in. For as much as clothes can make the man, I have hoped so hard for clothes to make me into something more than I've felt.
I have, for much of my life and even today, hoped that whatever I draped on the outside would alter the state of feelings for the better on the inside.
Many times it works.
It's amazing how a new pair of shoes or a well fitting shirt can do for posture and confidence.
The shame of it is we aren't allowed (via cultural norms) to just stick with the one thing that works for us and wear that for the rest of our lives.
For some fashion designers it works, but fashion designers get away with a lot.
There's a comedian who talks about why people's hairstyles stop changing as they get older. He says it's either the hairstyle of the last time that person got laid, or the last time some significant event happened in their life.
My style, and my hairstyles have varied greatly throughout my life. I have neither the time, nor the memory capable of recounting for you all of the interesting choices I have made to my appearance over the last 20 or so years.
And that's not what this is about either.
What I find interesting, and what I've been thinking about lately, is how for much of my life, what I put on the outside was very much a reflection of how I wanted to believe I felt on the inside.
And in the last couple of years, most significantly the last year, that has reversed.
I have readily embraced the amalgam of very significant emotions and feelings I experience and the way I want the way I dress now to reflect that, not determine it.
The great folly of our lives is that we think we are always almost arriving at a destination when we will no longer have to think so hard, work so hard, or change who we are.
The most intuitive of us, the people I like to spend time around, have made peace with the idea that we are always in a state of arrival at a destination that is always moving away from us.
So much of my life has been spent thinking, "If I could only just ____ then I would _____." Needless to say any time that blank happened, another blank was born in my mind or my heart or in the belly of my relentless cosmic indigestion.
My recent arrival at 30 was preceded by a tremendous amount of introspection and time spent alone contemplating what 30 meant to me and what is would mean going forward.
Many popular news outlets propagate social media with stories from successful individuals who speak of 30 being the time when individuals finally, FINALLY, can embrace themselves, who they are, and who they want to be.
And in a lot of ways I think that's true.
What interests me about my life, and my life moving forward, is being able to gradually let go of the things that are no longer necessary and grabbing ahold of those things that fill me, that fill my cup.
But here is what I am also realizing:
What fills my cup today, might not fill it tomorrow. And while having a closet full of beautiful lace-ups that I can wear to meetings, that make me feel more adult than I have ever felt, is fun, it is by no means permanent.
Shoes, like the support they give, are ephemeral, as are pants, as are so many of the things we fill our lives with. And while I'd love to look at my closet and think, man, I'm good on shoes for the rest of my life, thank god I'll never have to think about those again…
It's just not true.
And that's where the grey lies. The in-between in which we exist is filled with so much that requires observation and thought. And that is exhausting, sometimes overwhelmingly so. But I have started to come to terms with it (started, just barely started) and there is both a fear and comfort in that, that this is the way forward.
The future will be filled with more options, and more choices, and countless shoes. And that is perfectly ok because for me, for any of us, a destination is a virtual impossibility without death.
For as much as the grey can suck sometimes, it's also infinite in it's potential, in what it provides, and what it allows us to be.
And that is beautiful.