"I" was going to die. Or at least, the version of myself that I knew how to be. My present, settled, safe, albeit dissatisfied condition was the same one I'd fought bravely for just ten years earlier. And through that decade I'd grown and loved as I was able, more freely and with more self-awareness than my youth had allowed. Still, the new had, eventually, become familiar. The new had become the home I understood. My future seemed quite predictable. I did not want to live in the present, because then I'd feel my own unhappiness, but the present caught up with me.
And it told me that I was going to die. Ready or not, like it or lump it--I was going to be tossed over a cliff to do something I'd never truly done before.
Learn to be alone.
Learn to become a more me-ish version of myself.
Most of us sink our identity into others. This is natural. We all have some instinctive kind of pack mentality that needs attending to. We crave the comfort, the stability of shared energy, of affection. More than that, it's with and because of each other that we really learn who we are. But, in our deep aversion to loneliness, we run the very common risk of completely losing sight of not only our own individual minds, but our own individual purposes, as well.
I've always embraced that I had a purpose...that everyone does...but there were things about me that I was hardly capable of recognizing before. I could not see them because I had not challenged my consciousness in a long time. Nothing really meaty--nothing substantially troublesome, and I suspect that whatever is mine to do in this life requires a lot more from me than my comfort zone allows.
Still, life had been patient with me. It hadn't forced me to make a brave move in years, and, unfortunately, it is during those tumultuous times that our characters seem to undergo the most extreme, most necessary overhauls. As a kid, everyone dwarfed my presence. I existed to hide from the chaos around me, lived in my head while somehow shunning self-awareness. Then, in my early twenties, I fell in love and the consequent events jarred me out of other people's reality and into my own, forced me to think and feel for myself and act accordingly, showing my strength. But that time had passed and I was stagnating again. I guess the universe decided I was missing out, and if I'm being honest, I did too, even if I wouldn't admit it without some bitterness.
Now, after coming through lots of eyes of lots of storms, I have found that the limitations of the person I was just a couple of years ago are dying every day. I am aware of things that I couldn't see before, simply because I've been forced into a singular kind of independence that has brought them, screaming, to my attention. To my awareness.
It's a brutal process. At first, I was only aware of my pain, of my fear, of my grieving. Though I knew there was some prize to be won if I saw things through, I couldn't really feel any relief. I was too busy trying not to drown in a sense of loss so heavy I wasn't sure how I'd possibly untangle myself from it. I mourned. I mourned for a long time. And when I thought I was getting better, another stage of misery would find me and I'd experience it again in a new way. I was not "myself" as I had been before, and I was not able to replicate the sense of well-being that came with its familiarity, no matter how hard I tried to grasp for something that felt like "me". Which was the point, I suppose--reinventing what felt like me. Redefining myself according to my own standards. That much I vaguely knew. So each time I'd reach a breaking point, I'd be forced to let go and live in the present truth, however frightening. I let myself feel the dark things, the sad things, the angry things--especially those. I was uncertain, insecure, worried about what would become of me, alone, single, far away from my old friends, trying to make my life into something that felt solid of my own doing, and eerily alert to the knowledge that unknowing was all I really knew. And in the process, things began to surface. One observation, one realization or another would come into view and I'd say, oh shit...do I really do this? This is a problem. But I'd been too comfortable to see it before. I was clueless that certain parts of me even existed, let alone needed addressing, embracing, slaying or laying to rest. And now, as I become conscious of them, I have to do the work.
Here's an example. I was listening to my MP3 player on the deck of a friend's home one night not too long ago (I tend to sit alone outside at night...it's a thing), lost in my head, when a song by Ray LaMontagne came on called "Be Here Now." Funny how I'd never paid attention to the lyrics of the song before. But I did that night, and it was a powerful message. Be here now, it said. Be here now.
It occurred to me to look up and around at the stars in the clear sky, at the trees in the dark, at the half moon. I was missing them because I was caught in my head. I wasn't living right now. I was thinking to the future, to the past. I wasn't present. This is one of my greatest weaknesses, and one I have a greater realization of, only because I allowed some of my past to die so that my present could rush in to fill it.
Eckhart Tole says:
"...you need to roll up the scroll of your life on which your story is written, past and future. Before there were books, there were scrolls, and you rolled them up when you were done with them. So put your story away. It is not who you are...When you are present in this moment, you break the continuity of your story, of past and future. Then true intelligence arises, and also love. People usually live carrying a burden of past and future, a burden of their personal history, which they hope will fulfill itself in the future. It won't, so roll up that old scroll. Be done with it."
I wasn't thinking about rolling up my scroll a few years ago. I was thinking of rolling up in a ball and crying...but "discovering" myself wasn't quite so high up on the priority list as surviving emotionally. And yet, something kept me moving forward in one way or another, even while I questioned the brutality of the process.
I'm finally starting to feel more footing, now, though my "home" seems to be fluid, seems to have altered several times along the way as life maneuvered me into whatever circumstance it deemed best. And just when things got comfy, just when I was at risk of getting too attached to something that probably wasn't my highest good, it nudged me on. And I tend to let it, now, because I've kind of given up on trying to decipher what lies ahead. My guess is that the results are better that way, existing in a present faith, because I've found that anywhere else leads to mental chaos.
I didn't used to get what living in the moment meant. It was a phrase, but it hadn't sunk it. And now, when I really consider it, I recognize that it's not a propagation of irresponsibility, of flightiness. It's a state of peaceful awareness, dwelling on the substance, the feel, the elemental truth of your sacred being right in this moment--which is real. You can only be a conduit of your own good if you let go of what has passed and believe that today has its own wisdom to offer.