This project entry is exceptionally special because this amazing woman is my wife. As big of an impact as she has been and continues to be, it's difficult to know where to begin here.
I can say with no hesitation that she is one of the most thoughtful people that I've ever met in my life. She has a strength that I have watched grow and grow and I don't see slowing anytime soon. She's incredibly supportive as a partner, friend, and lover, enabling me to believe that I can achieve and go after more than I think that I am capable. She's witty, funny, stubborn and passionate and the fact that she chooses me time and time again, despite my own shortcomings and annoyances is astounding to me!
I knew from the beginning of Project 104 that I would add Emily to it at some point. She knew that she had an open invitation so I more or less left it to her as to when she felt she was ready. Aside from myself, she probably knows the project better than anyone. She's supported me in it, even when that has been difficult to do and pushed me further and harder. She knows the questions and even proofread many of the transcribed interviews. Despite all of this, when she decided to sit for the project herself I could tell that she wanted as close to an unbiased experience as possible. She never pre-thought any of her answers and even when answering the questions in conversation seemed to do so as if it were not her husband asking them. The answers feel as true, genuine and individual as they all do and I love that she did that! I even learned more about her from her answers!
Emily can often be quiet, but you can be assured that her brain is turning things over at an immensely rapid pace! She's thoughtful in her answers and often pauses to find the particular thought that she's in search of. Though her interview reads as conversational is they all do I find an uncommon eloquence within it. Something very reflective of Emily herself.
I so admire her relentless quest of the core things that matter to her in life. She looks for them in all situations and has no reservations in not accepting things outside of this ideal. I admire her strength as an individual and as a woman. Her commitment to social justice, love, and quality of relationships and life.
Please, go read what she has to say on going after your dreams, how important we, as humans are to one another and what love really looks like.
Emily, thank you for sharing your heart and mind. You're an amazing and beautiful woman, incredible partner, and a more talented, strong and thoughtful human than most all of us could ever hope to be! I love you all day, every day, for all days!
Love Aimlessly, My Friends
What gets you out of bed every day?
Most concretely, I would just say willpower. I don't think there is a morning that I just wake up unless something exceptional is happening that day that I know I'm very excited about. I don't think that I've wired to wake up and jump out of bed. I think getting up has a little bit more of a negative connotation in the way that I think about it. It can be a struggle every day. Once I'm out of bed, the things that I start thinking about that motivate me in large part are the commitments and relationships that I face every day. I have responsibilities, personally and professionally that start turing in my mind pretty much as soon as I get up. The weekend I guess brings a bit of a different motivation for the morning. The thing that gets me going is the possibility of what a day could hold when I feel a little more control over what that day could look like. I love the idea of contentment and I think that it's quite common for me to spend a day off working hard to get my life that day to a point where I can be content and I can relax and see where the day could take me. Though, I always seem to feel like there is an investment to be made to get me to that point.
The disposition that I kind of envy in others, where spontaneity leads them through their day... I feel more calculated than that. I don't think that that's a bad thing. I think that I embrace responsibility in a big way and really try to respect the people and things in my life that need me. I do feel that that often means that I personally come second, but I feel that the things that make me happy aren't really a crazy thing to try to attain in an evening. Knowing that I have something to look forward to in a day usually means that I've made some kind of commitment to someone to meet up for dinner or go do something with someone. The idea of that experience keeps me excited about it all day. Even just going to a new restaurant like I did with my friend yesterday. I'd been looking forward to it for two weeks. Not just to have a great meal but to spend time with people that I care about and be in an environment that inspires me and is a reflection of ideas, values, and aesthetics that I'm drawn to. The idea of place and time and memory are big draws for me in terms of thinking about what drives me every day. Looking forward to moments and opportunities to connect with others and do it in a way that feels true to who I am and what my interests are.
I think that it's hard for me to answer this question more abstractly. I want to answer it in a very concrete way of thinking about my life right now and what every day kind of holds. Most of my days feel like they hold a lot of routines. I tried to think about it more abstractly and in a bigger picture of what gets me out of bed every day. If I think back on the times in my life where nothing felt worth getting out of bed for, which is a very rare occurrence but is definitely something I've felt before, I think it's possibility. When life as you want it to be feels possible. I can't help but feel motivated to make that day happen because it gets you a little closer to your dreams.
What is the greatest lesson that you've learned to date?
I think this is tough, in part because I feel like my answer could differ hour to hour, day to day, month to month... Just with what's going on in my life or around me. A thread that I either just circle a lot or will just always resonate very true to me is believing that every living thing on our planet has value and that there is a need for respect between all of those living things, keeping in mind dominance hierarchies of course.
I think that if a true sense of respect and symbiosis could be achieved or returned between living things, with that spectrum stretching from the leaves on trees, to bees and dogs and humans and elephants and bigger ideas like our atmosphere and oceans... If people cold harken back to a time that had to of existed where we weren't just battling every living element for how we could benefit from it as opposed to balancing that act with what we needed to give in return, I think that our world would be much more peaceful. Intellectually, emotionally and physically there would be more respect across the spectrum of living things that would create, ultimately a planet that lived longer and could sustain itself better.
Day to day, I think about that in terms of how I interact with others. I feel like I fail every day to live up to that standard that I hope for for our world, but I think just the fact that I'm conscious of it and try to be better than I was yesterday is more than a lot of people do. I want to live that out in a more tactile way where I feel more concrete opportunities to contribute to that idea and bringing it to life. I would love to be contributing to the world some kind of product or way of life. Even the concept of homesteading where I could be an example of how humans can and should be able to work together and be able to show the success story of that in hopes to teach other people those ideas and that philosophy of how to approach the world.
What is love?
I think that love is giving something of yourself to others or to something tangible or intangible, like an idea or movement that you believe in. Contributing to that is an act of love for that thing. Giving something of yours... your energy, your time, resources... your listening... I feel like all of those things feel like what love is to me. Knowing that there are people, places and things that are in need and giving what you have, in whatever way that is for you, to them... that feels like love to me.
Just as Chris McCandless discovered, a life lived without others is meaningless. That idea really stuck with me after reading Into The Wild and Chris's story. If our only purpose in life is to just peacefully exist and take the smallest amount of resources we can and just exist in harmony with nature... I can't imagine that it would feel like enough. Committing ourselves to others, places and ideas... As humans, we need that. To me, the exchange we make is giving of ourselves. It's like this transaction. I get to have my cup filled and have meaning brought into my life by my husband or my dog, or the family that we could create together. There's a cost to everything. If you only ever had to listen to what's in your own head that would be pretty lonely. I think that choosing to benefit from sharing the world with others definitely means opening yourself up to having to consider someone besides yourself.
In the idea of love, from a young age feels very blanketed over. It's presented as a very commercial and Valentine'sy thing. Knowing my parents loved me, at a very young age, was my source of comfort and safety. As I grew up I mostly just found it to be a nuisance that kept me from being free and from being myself. At the same time, I was on a quest for love, so to speak.
I don't think that we normally fully consider the weight when we think about love, marriage, and kids. Early on we're mostly thinking about falling in love and finding this person that's supposed to be our soul-mate. You think that true love is going to mean this incomprehensible, effortless symbiosis between the two of you and that you will just know and understand one another. Everything will be perfect and meant to be.
I think it's very easy, during the falling in love part to paint that person as an unfair version of who they really probably are. Once you come into an acknowledgment of the real commitment of familial love, in terms of a partner and children is when you find out that it is a lot of work but as long as you align your outcomes with one another and communicate well I think all of that work will feel very much worth it. You'll be able to receive amazing gifts in life that you probably wouldn't otherwise receive without having taken that step. I ultimately feel like it's a sacrifice with tremendous rewards.
On the topic of self-love, I think I have an even worse understanding of it compared to loving other people. I think that the same virtues apply but I'm just beginning to understand it.
About Emily : Emily works at Elizabeth Suzann with the media team but wears many other hats there. She loves traveling and spending time with those she cares for, including her sausage-dog, Bo.
From Atlanta, GA
Lives in Nashville, TN