I spent the holidays with my kids. I stayed with my daughter and her family and was completely engulfed by the wonderment of a one year old. I was sitting across the room from Lauren and she said ” This is the most calm I’ve seen you in a long time, maybe even ever.” I gave her the half cocked puppy face and she said “you’re just so calm and you’re not up doing a million things-like you’re just able to sit there.”
I’ve been aware for a long, long time that I’m unsettled and have a need to stay in perpetual motion. If I’m on the go then I don’t have to be tied down to any one place and I can free from feeling things that make me feel overly responsible or that cause me to feel uncomfortable because I don’t know what to do with emotions. I sat there and thought about what she said for quite some time and as I looked back over the last three years and especially the last one, I discovered that it wasn’t any one specific thing that happened but rather a series of opportunities and transitions that compiled into a more zen version of myself.
I had more days that I didn’t feel like myself than I care to admit. I found that I was as lost as I’d ever been but it was in the middle of an ordinary life. Isn’t that what people are in search of? Something “normal” and predictable? The pleasant distraction of kids at home was gone, I had a job that felt like it was meant for me, I moved to a new city with a complete fresh start down to measuring cups and a hammer, and I set up this new life exactly the way I wanted to…and nothing had hurt that badly in a long time. It hurt because this was it. I had arrived at a place where the past was further in my rear view mirror and what I had in the present brought the realization that this is it- that what I had wanted was in the palm of my hand and I was scared to wrap my fingers around it. There was a strange unsettling feeling that I had finally landed and I could grow roots if I wanted. I had no idea how tired my soul was from all the running- all the running away from myself and from what I wanted most.
I cried a different kind of tears this last year. Happy and sad all at the same time. Such a fucking mess in my head. I love my life and I think most days I meet my goal of doing what I feel is right and adding value to peoples lives. But this ache in my heart overshadows all of it somedays. The same silence and sense of being alone that I crave at times is the same silence and aloneness that is haunting. It’s the same silence and aloneness that makes the idea of cranking a hard left across the interstate into oncoming traffic seem like a flash of relief from the nagging and tugging feelings of a heavy soul that just wants to be held and calmed down if even for one minute of peace.
But like most things in life, those feelings pass and the beauty of a sunrise gives me hope that today will feel better than the last. The path I’ve walked to get to where I am has constantly changed. There were plenty of open roads that weren’t always forgiving and I had to realize that the miles I walked with a rock in my shoe was as much a gift as a well lit road sign guiding my next move. All of it was part of a beautiful and constant journey back to myself.
During these periods of transition I let the scary depths of the unknown become familiar and gave myself the gift of vulnerability. Picking and choosing emotions that are safe and tolerable is a defense mechanism that robs us in the end and is the ultimate lie we tell ourselves. Yes life is full of potential hurt and it happens whether we’re ready for it or not. And, sometimes, it doesn’t happen at all but we’re so caught up in self preservation that we miss out on all the moments meant for us.
Ultimately I’ve learned that happiness is about learning how to live with yourself. It’s about breaking the cycle of being busy and making time for what brings you joy. Sometimes it’s the small victory of getting through the day. Happiness is realizing if you don’t like being a doormat to get off the damn floor and brush yourself off. It’s being concerned with the amount of love we have to give and not about someone meeting us with the same intensity. It’s about finding people that challenge and inspire you and are happier for your accomplishments than you are for yourself. And lastly, for me, it’s about letting go of trying to make life look good and creating an illusion that we have any control over circumstances and situations and making the decision to find out the truth about who you really are.
Love and loss, push and pull, give and take….all of it requires some type of balance. You can fight it like I did for years but at the end of the day, week, month, or year you have to decide when it’s time to stop fighting yourself and the notion in your head of how you think things should be and let it be- feel your life while you’re in it. Trust me, picking up toys from the living room floor or making sure the dishes are done right after dinner isn’t where peace is found. It’s found in moments of time that will be memories quicker than you think so make them worth remembering and calm the fuck down.