Spring is finally in the air and there is a sense of a new beginning echoing through the blooms and the colors as I gaze out upon the emerging life of flowers and insects. Nature is waking up again. I feel like there is a fresh start, indeed a revival, upon us singing fruitfully in the air, and I am left reflecting on this past year in some hope of finding meaning in the struggle. Covid hit us all hard and unexpectedly and I think we are all hoping that this Spring is a hint of better times to come as the weather slowly warms and color is added back into our world. I certainly have felt an overwhelming batch of discouragement, indeed it has lingered for the better part of a year I suppose. Recently, I have been feeling the immediate need to change the trajectory of my life. The past few weeks I have felt depressed and trapped in a seemingly endless cycle between stress and monotony. Day after day, week after week, work drudges onward and I am left feeling like I am running in circles putting the same fires out over and over again. I am starting to wonder what feels worse, stress or monotony. My mind screams out for change, any change.
This weekend I got together with my loved one to sit down and write down our goals for the next year and the changes needed to implement them. For me, this was the boost I needed to feel like I am actually moving towards something else, something better. Ever since I traveled for work, I have felt the itch to put myself in new places and new situations. I think that is the virus I was infected with while traveling, the virus that makes me constantly search for something new, the virus that causes my spirit to shrivel up from too much routine and repetition. I crave new experiences. For me, new experiences make it so much easier for me to be mindful and present in the moment and to notice the little details of life. It feeds into the very depth of my soul. I realize this is a core part to who I am now and I carry it with me wherever I go. So, with the spirit of change in my heart at the moment, I thought I would reflect on this year and tell a better story of this past year in a more positive, realsitic light. I know that can be hard, for the past year with the lockdowns and the pandemic has been some of the hardest days many have experienced in recent memory, but here it goes.
When I came back to my hometown, I had hoped that my time away and the changes I had undergone personally would forever change the way I experienced and interacted with my hometown. I was hoping to come back and see something new in an old, familiar place. Within a month of coming back I lost my grandmother, the glue that held my family together. I had also met a woman. A woman with who I would quite swiftly fall in love. A woman who would forever change the course of my life and who I love and cherish more than anything or anyone I could have imagined before. April of last year felt like my old life dying and a new one immerging out of its ashes. The death of my grandmother and the birth of a beautiful relationship between Bonnie and I was an interesting juxtaposition. They were so very similar. They harbored the same spirit. I sorely wish they could have met.
Love has been the new adventure of my life. It is one that constantly changes and grows and humbles me and teaches me to be a better person. Love has been the guiding force to my higher self. It gives me strength and never lets me forget that I matter, that we all matter and are worthy and capable of an infinite stream of love and understanding. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive partner at just the right time to give me these priceless realizations. While I may have been in a discouraged funk for the past few weeks, I can’t let that central blessing die out in my mind. I am so unabashedly blessed to live each day in love.
Another thing to reflect on is that I have grown closer with my parents over the past year. It’s nice to have them nearby again. As each month passes, I am reminded of the power of their love and how transformative it has been in shaping who I am. I lived for years in resentment and I am proud of the fact that I have come around to see them with admiration and gratitude, and to bare the lessons they have taught through their guidance and patience. I am also reminded that there are friends and loved ones that still surround me and it is okay to reach out, to open up, to be vulnerable with them. I am proud of who I have become, especially in this past year. It hasn’t been easy but the personal struggles of this past year have been the brick and mortar to a better place mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I also finally mustered up the courage to go to therapy this year. I tend to be quite a reserved person. I hate being the center of attention so the idea of sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings with a near stranger terrified me. But I made my mental health a priority. I decided the discomfort of opening up to something was a small price to pay for the endless treasures that await through therapy. Now that I am on the other side, it’s crystal clear that taking that first uncomfortable step was the best decision I could have made. Maybe that’s what life is, a series of uncomfortable steps, pushing us into new perspectives, building our skillsets, and making us more resilient and adaptable to change and flux.
Over the past year, my ideas about my job have been anything but simple. Some days aren’t bad and I tell myself I am okay, other days I am ready to pull my hair out and throw my computer out of the window. I spent a lot of time the past month or so telling myself how much I hate my job, how much I feel trapped in my own home, working day after day in the same place by myself. I know the pandemic has forced many to work from home and while past me would have looked at a work from home job as ideal, the reality is it isn’t all it is cracked up to be. But that’s okay. I have still grown through all of it. I know this is not where I want to stay for long and that’s okay. To be able to have a steady income working from home, especially amidst the chaos of this year, can be seen as a blessing. Yes, it is lonely, yes, it is monotonous, but while I am planning a better avenue for myself, I can take in the gratitude of this moment and this temporary opportunity to tell myself a better story each day. Indeed, I am not trapped. It only feels that way. The steps are in motion now to sell my house and start searching for new job opportunities, maybe even build side projects out of my hobbies and maybe one day have a source of income doing something I am genuinely passionate about. Maybe writing and blogging, maybe photography, who knows? And one day in the next year or two my partner and I hope to move. There is nothing keeping us in Chattanooga forever. There is a new horizon somewhere out there. A new dream. But the one thing I am going to remind myself going forward is that I am in control, and the wheels are always turning, I just have to let myself feel the movement and to be an active part of its motion. While it feels like I have been stagnant working from home, I am anything but stagnant. I have constantly been in motion, maybe not physically, but in every other sense.
Life is mental. It’s all perspective. Life only reflects our own thoughts and feelings back at us and so I will choose not to see myself as trapped, but in a temporary situation, striving for a new path, but able to take in the lessons of the immediate moment for the greater good. Life is too damn short for these feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness. I have grown to learn that my mind is not my friend. I always thought it was. I thought it was who I was. It’s always talking and rattling off inside my head, but it is all an illusion. My mind has told me in the past that I am not good enough, that I should be ashamed, that I am weak and that I can’t truly change the course of my life, and I believed it. My mind is not my friend, but it can be.
In changing the story that I tell myself, I will choose to let the negative thoughts play out as they should without believing them or investing in them. I will also make a habit of telling beautiful things about myself. I will steadfastly say nice, encouraging, and uplifting things about myself. And those are the beliefs I will invest in. I have to see the beauty within, constantly, or I can so easily slip back into a negative place, feeling powerless and lost. And so, with the positive energy I feel today, I will tell myself that I am powerful and mighty and I have the will to create my own life, the life that I want. Reflecting back on this past year, I have already created the life I want in so many ways. Stagnation and powerlessness are the illusionary songs I have played in my head and that have persistently reverberated in my skull, but no more. These lies no longer have power over me. I am choosing to put the pen back in my own hand and write my story every day, each moment a new page, each choice and direction a new bright possibility. I will tell a most wonderful story about myself, one that I truly want to read and invest in. One in which I truly care about the well-being of the main character. It will be a story filled with hope and a new path to walk down, for perpetually moving forward is to give direction and meaning to this weird, wonderful, fleeting existence. It is within the wind of this motion that I find the most joy.