Brand New / by Liz Brown

Three years ago in January, I chased a dream to Colorado. I drove through Kansas in unseasonably warm weather with the windows down, listening to Needtobreathe on repeat. I made new friends and visited old ones and stopped to sight see. But at the end of the journey, every door to my dream closed. I felt lost and confused. I couldn’t stay where I was but I didn’t know how to move forward. So I took an office job. It felt like a defeat—a blow to my pride and independence.

I sat in a cubicle from 7:25am to 4pm and I was incredibly ungifted at my job. (One thing I learned through the experience is I hadn’t often tried—and stuck with—things I’m not good at.) I wasn’t used to this failure and I wasn’t used to a cubicle and I wasn’t used to not being allowed to talk to anyone all day.

It was so easy to slip into monotony and discouragement. So every day I picked up my phone and used my lunch break as a fight for joy. I sought to find one thing every day that was beautiful to take a photo of. It may be as simple as light on a wall. The thing is: you can find beauty anywhere if you’re looking. I wrote a blog post about loving the skies you’re under, when those skies are ceiling tiles.

On my lunch breaks I sometimes walked three blocks, rented a bike, biked across downtown, bought an iced latte from someone who knew my name, and biked and walked back. It took 35 minutes exactly. That was how lonely I was. I’d spend $12 on my lunch break for a bike ride, a latte, and human connection.

The other thing I did on my lunch break is dance. The cool thing about office jobs is they are often connected to parking garages, which happen to be empty of humans and amazing for midday dancing. I’d kick of my shoes, put on Ben Rector’s “Brand New” and dance my booty off. I chased joy every day. While I never grew to love my job, I look back on those lunch breaks with joy and fondness. They were only 35 minutes but used intentionally, they changed me and my outlook.

Today, almost exactly three years later (35 months), I find myself again a little lost and lonely and wondering why my dreams keep disappearing. I don’t know where to go next or what’s ahead. But I have bare feet and an open road. I have an iced mocha and I’m going to see Ben Rector and dance my booty off.

Just like three years ago, I’m not going to wait until it’s good to chase light and dance. I am going to dance and look for light on dark days until the joy comes. I don’t know what’s ahead but I’m going to meet it dancing. I will find light in the walls and sunburns on my shoulders and pavement under my bare feet. I will dance before the joy comes, until the miracle comes, no matter what comes my way. In the words of queen Maggie Rogers, “I’ll be dancing at the end of the day.”

I wrote this Saturday, but the photo is from spring 2016. My hair had changed over the last three years and I’d like to think my heart has changed, too—and I hope my heart has, too.

Keep dancing,