- "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I’ve had a dreadful day. There. I said it. I can hopefully move on. To go into too much detail would involve a long list of inevitably boring complaints, so let’s just narrow it down to this: The person who keeps me sane at work wasn’t there, many things were yelled, curses muttered under my breath, tears shed, and to end the work day, on my way home another car hit me, knocked off my mirror, and kept driving. Happy Wednesday to you too.
I hate writing things like this, but my only other option at the moment is screaming and this somehow seemed a more productive outlet. There. I said it. I can hopefully move on.
It wasn’t until just now that I thought back to this morning. The funny thing about waking up so early is that by the end of the day, everything that happened in those first few hours is remembered in pieces, like a dream, like a memory I have of childhood – so distant, so scattered. It is just now that I remember his face.
He was carrying five large boxes piled in his arms. I stopped to hold the door for him as he made his way into WaWa. He caught it with his foot. “No, you go ahead, sweetheart,” he told me. I thanked him greatly. He told me to have a great day. Such simple kindness. It makes all the difference.
A few moments ago, one of my best friends called to ask me about my day. I vented, she listened. I cried, she told me she loved me. Such simple kindness. It makes all the difference.
It’s nice to know that in a day, a week, a year, a lifetime of sadness, there is still hope for something better. There are still glimmers of beauty and light and genuine goodness. There are still people with the best of intentions and still moments of happiness that can take your breath away. There is always the possibility of gladness.
I don’t have much else to say. I guess I just wanted to write something, anything, in the hopes of erasing the course of this day. Tomorrow will be better. It has to be. In the meantime, keep in mind that the little things really do add up. Spread kindness. It makes all the difference.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned between two warm and silent bodies, measuring the passing moments by their heavy breaths of sleep. In and out, they sighed in rhythm. Trapped in that bed, in that room, in my own insomnia, I leapt up and walked out to stare at the moon. The world had never seemed so still.
And so I ran. Just to know that I was still capable of movement. Just to know that life was still continuing on. I ran down the rocky hill, through the street of shops with doors all locked and barred, across the path twisting and turning around the mountain. Two miles down the road I reached the cliff.
My favorite cliff, where I had sat on our first day and filled the entirety of a journal, where I had first lost track of the constraints of time, where I had dazzled in the brilliance of the vastness of the world. I stopped. I caught my breath.
Below lay a grand nothingness, a valley too deep to be lit by the light of the moon, no matter how large and illuminated it seemed. I stared up. I stared below. I have no idea how much time passed before I stood up again to leave. I know only how it felt to stand there, to be lost in both a moment and eternity, to know nothing and everything all at once.
Again last night, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned for hours. I tried to ease my mind into a comfortable resting place. Minutes turned into hours and I wrestled insomnia to no avail. What was it my body and mind were trying to tell me?
We spoke for a long time, like we used to. I knew I missed it, but would never have guessed how much. Funny how that lesson is learned again and again. How you can miss something or someone, but never realize the true depths of it until they return. I was – am – so grateful for that conversation.
When we said our goodnights, I thought about that night running down the mountain. I thought about the pure calmness of everything in the world but me. I thought about the way I chased that serenity for so long, only to find it in the unlikeliest of places, only to find it in the immense nothingness of darkness.
I closed my eyes and pictured each curve I followed along the winding road, how smoothly I had moved along with it, how clear my mind had been made. I thought about our conversation, and all that had proceeded, and how smoothly I had moved along with each bend in topic.
Perhaps it seems an odd comparison. I don’t care. The point is, speaking to you feels the way it felt to run that night. The world is still, but I am moving. Something clear and calm and wonderful is being created within me. I am understanding both the nothing and the everything. I am standing at the edge of a cliff, staring out into a universe saturated with answers.
I am running, running, running. And it is you who spurs me on.
Monday, February 26, 2007
We have this constant struggle, you and I. You give me a compliment; I don’t know how to receive it. I deny all goodness within myself. I feel undeserving. I take your kindness and turn it into something ugly, some deep form of self-doubt I had yet to discover existed in me. I allow myself to feel worse than when we began.
On the way home this afternoon, I began to wonder why. Why can I not see what you see? Why can I not take your compliment, say thank you, and move on? Why can I trust your judgment about everything in this world except for what you think of me?
But perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that if I were to name the people I admire most in my life, you would be in the top five, easy. What’s that old Groucho Marx quote? “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel. I find it so difficult to respect someone who has respect for me.
Why? Well, I have yet to reach the truth in that. It seems the entirety of my life is devoted to finding that answer. And it is a struggle – a painful, self-loathing, sometimes seemingly hopeless struggle. But I am trying. I promise, I am trying.
We all seem to have that one thing that we believe is keeping us from happiness. It may change throughout the years, but we convince ourselves that there is always something in our way, one goal that needs to be reached before we can dismiss our sadness wholly. This is mine.
Maybe it appears a simple task, to just say thank you, to just say you’re right, to just take a compliment and be done with it, but you need to understand that it’s not that simple for me. For me, doing all of those things is everything. For me, being able to believe you care for me means caring for myself, and I just haven’t learned how to do that yet. For me, learning to love myself is the greatest and toughest lesson I will ever learn.
I’ve spent so much time trying to trace the course of my life, hoping that finding the source of my self-doubt would help me move past it, but maybe that’s not as important as I’ve thought it to be for so long now. Perhaps it’s time to merely accept what I need to do for myself and embrace it, do it, make the choice to love who I am. Why shouldn’t it be so simple?
I think somewhere along the line I mistook confidence for arrogance, and I haven’t been the same since. My life is not made better by my humility. I am not made better by belittling myself. I am simply made smaller, less than who I am, and less than who I could be. So much of life is having faith in oneself, and I fear I’m missing my chance to be extraordinary because I’ve convinced myself that I’m incapable of it.
And it’s funny to say such a thing, to think such a thing, because if any one of my loved ones said that to me, I would call them crazy. Because each and every one of them is extraordinary. Each and every one is capable of anything and everything they could ever want out of life. And I would tell them that, not to be kind, but to be honest.
And I know that is what you are trying to do for me. And I love you for it. And I am trying to get to the place where I can say thank you. I promise, I am trying.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Yesterday I turned 22. This past year went by so quickly; it hardly feels as though I’ve aged at all. It seems that no matter how many people warn you that time moves faster and faster as life goes on, no matter how mentally prepared you are to accept that, you will never understand it until you understand it. And I know each year will bring the same realization, over and over, until time seems to signify nothing at all.
I generally make a few resolutions on New Years, but it’s never until my birthday that I really decide to change my life. The arbitrary markings of a new year are meaningless. When school begins in September, it is a new year. When January 1st comes around, it is a new year. When I am one year older, it is a new year, but really, every day is the first day of the rest of my life.
I was thinking about that this morning as I walked the eleven blocks to the train station, breathing in the city as it began to rise. I thought about it waiting on the platform for the train to arrive, watching the anxious mannerisms and daily routines of the people around me. How long it had been since I had simply sat and watched the world go by.
Sometimes I become so consumed with the mundane details of my day-to-day existence, that I begin to forget that my world is not THE world. There is so much more beyond me. There is so much more that I have yet to experience, and learn, and understand. There is so much more that I want out of life.
I think that we as human beings fall into a definition of our lives so quickly that before we know it, we have closed ourselves off to other possibilities. So often I stop and wonder, how did I get here? So often tracing the course of my life proves difficult. So often I have sat and considered the lives of strangers, whether this is how they had envisioned their lives, whether they are happy, whether we are all destined to settle for ordinary in a world of such extraordinary opportunity. How sad to consider the sum of dreams never fulfilled.
Because it’s so easy to get caught up, in the here, in the now, in the checklists of things to accomplish before the day is through. And yes, I suppose that we can only really take life one day at a time, but it seems a shame somehow to be so focused on what’s right in front of me. It seems a shame to forget the vastness of life, of this world, of possibility. I forget that time is still moving forward whether I acknowledge it or not. Even taking life one day at a time doesn’t stop them from adding up quickly.
And then there are mornings like this one, when each stranger seems to carry some unique light that I had yet to consider, when suddenly I appear to have all the time in the world to sit, and wonder, and be stricken with awe. I spend so much time trying to get things done, to accomplish things, that I rush through the moments of quiet contemplation that are such a necessity of happiness. I am so consumed with what needs to be done, that I neglect to revel in what has been done, in what I have accomplished, in the exquisite beauty that is this world and each life within it.
And so it was there, on that platform, on the morning after my 22nd birthday, that I decided to love my life. And so it is here that I celebrate the first day of a new year.