|Kumiko Okada from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle|
“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.”
I’m in that place.
Finally. The place you read about in all the self help books while you’re waiting to get there. The everything is better now place. On the other side of the only way out. Through. That place that feels like it takes forever to reach, but when you look back, it wasn’t all that long. Oh fuck that, it was ages and eons and epochs. Then slowly and suddenly, you wake up alone one day and feel extremely, wondrously, magically whole. Relief. Where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
Our time perception is such a sadistic bastard, slowing down when things are dark and painful and speeding up when the world is raining joy down on your life so fast and hard you almost drown in it. Euphoria flood, shutting down the streets, stranding you on a balcony, locked outside with nothing on but a smile and you could not give a fuck. We want to hold on to that gorgeous peak forever, but we never seem to be able to, because life itself is a fleeting moment of sentient consciousness, the transitory and temporary essence of which gives it it’s meaning. The harder and tighter we hold on, the more permanent happiness eludes us, the more we lose, the farther away we are from our true, inherently perfect inner selves.
We have to stay in the tender, prickly parts longer because that’s where we learn everything we need to know. We have to twist and bleed and die and ache. That pain is a gift, a teacher, a wise sage. Without it, we have no way of knowing what happiness and love truly feel like. It’s in the contrast, and in the gratitude of being on the other side, that we are able to appreciate when life gets juicy. The secret of speeding this whole process up is learning not to run in the opposite direction. Coping mechanisms are a real thing that actually work in practice. Our instinct, mine anyway, used to be to run as fast as I could away, in any direction, all the directions, into a river of booze and anything else I could find to keep me from feeling my massive, soul crushing pain. And it’s not just the ultra sensitive who flee, everyone accepts that it’s normal, and preferable, to medicate the slightest negative sensation. We sedate ourselves when we’re happy, and especially when we’re sad. We celebrate and we mourn in a haze. Oblivion is a guaranteed release from fear. Why wouldn’t we take that ticket? Fear hurts. Life fucking hurts.
Most of us have a hard time liking ourselves. We demand impossible perfection and flagellate when we can’t achieve it. We worry so much about what other people think, we hear the judgmental, lying, mean voice in our heads abusing us and telling us we are worthless and we listen. Who wouldn’t want to shut that asshole up? For some of us, that voice gets louder when we try to drug it. Mine does. The only way I know how to permanently shut that shit off is by feeling my life as fully as possible, without filters, without anything. I force it into submission through kindness and then, there is a golden, full silence. The mind opens up to the brilliant, magnificent world we live in. It takes a fight to stay present in your own truth. Everything becomes available and possible. And then there’s this feeling of anticipation and excitement about anything that happens, because ALL THE FEELS!
Raw emotion is a powerful and fantastic experience, and so many of us never get to feel that. We don’t let ourselves. We miss opportunities, we let things and people pass us by because we are afraid. We stay slightly numb because the unknown is too terrifying to consider. Staring into someone’s eyes and letting them see you is too frightening. We say no, and we skim around on the surface of life. Because we might drown or lose a limb to a shark attack, we don’t even swim.
Modern humans are given very little time to process our emotional trauma. When you lose a pet or a parent or break up with someone you love, everyone expects you to keep going to work, keep doing life as normal, wash your hair and brush your teeth. Eat food. Breathe in and out. Don’t show emotion in public lest people think you might not be able to keep your shit intact. Newsflash: Everyone is about to lose their fucking minds at any given moment. No one knows what they are doing. Not me, not you, not hot guy in a suit on the sidewalk, not sassy beautiful lady at your gym with the awesome hair and perfect body. Nobody.
We are all flying through life as scared little kids in grown up outfits, trying to pretend we don’t care, but desperately searching for friends and loves to hold on to, to link up with and say, “Yeah, I’m scared too. I’m weird too. I’m flawed and scarred and strong too. Let’s do life together and maybe those things won’t matter so much.”
Losing the people we love shatters us. Getting out of bed and wearing clothes, walking, talking, working – these things happen, but we are shells. We’re robot humans who exist out of routine and practice. Divorce, violence, assault, illness, death. These things break people, and we never fucking talk about it. Because everything is awesome! Right? Not always. Sometimes everything is terrible but you find the things that aren’t and do those as often as possible. Music. Yoga. Books. Coffee. Elaborate dinners with intellectually stimulating ladies. Going on some dates and remembering you’re not dead inside. Writing. Cooking. And life will be less terrible tomorrow.
My point is, we got this. We go around and around in circles and we learn. The magic of marching into fire is that getting seared seals you up better for the next time. It gives you courage and power to have a next time. It makes you soft instead of hard. It’s intense, but it’s fast. It opens your heart up for possibilities and fills you with anticipation for what your next adventure is going to be. There’s always someone else. There’s always something to look forward to. Something amazing is going to happen. Trust me.
People think optimism is some kind of thing you’re just born with, but it’s not. It’s a choice driven by action, particularly self compassion. If you are able to be just optimistic enough to think you deserve to be nice to yourself, and you repeat that in little ways over and over and over again, you will be amazed and how the barriers you’ve built in your life will fall away. Liking ourselves removes obstacles. It’s not witchcraft, it’s doing what intuitively feels good. Ask yourself what that really means, chances are it’s not what you think it means on the surface. Let’s all go deeper. If you’re on the wrong path, get off it. Find a new one. It’s never too late to start walking in the complete opposite direction. Never.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.