For those who don’t know, I used to write on another blog. I started it in 2014 post-Afghanistan, when I was ensconced in a new city, in a new world, in a new self defined by confusion and pain and loss; I started it as a way to try and heal myself through a medium that I instinctively knew I belonged to, and that belonged to me.
But the truths I found that year, that I fought and bled for in the depths of my soul, are no less true for the passage of time and the healing of those wounds. They still resonate with the parts of me that dimly remember my own agony and thus know the agony that others go through. So when I rediscovered this earlier today–and bearing in mind that, as with anything written 2-3 years ago, it could probably use some revision–I thought that it was worth sharing.
Writing is a lot like living your best life (bear with me here). Sometimes the simple answer is just to put the first foot down the path, and whether it ends up being the right one or not isn’t as important as we think it is in that moment. Because, if we step off the ‘right’ path, perhaps we’ll find more than we ever thought we possibly could.
Fear of a misstep can prevent us from starting our journey and if we’re not journeying through our lives on winding roads under open skies – constantly evolving, pursuing change and discovering all our beautiful incarnations – then I feel like we’ve really missed the point of living altogether. Like with writing, the hardest part is usually just starting. The questions pile up – what am I going to write about? Is it lovely? Will it matter to anyone? – and they completely overwhelm the ability to create. As a writer and a creative being, I firmly believe that creation is an important aspect of our lives. You don’t have to be an author or a poet or an artist to reach out and create something, to pursue the openness of the heart that is associated with such endeavours. If nothing else… the process is good for the soul.
Like trying to write, the questions that haunt us throughout our lives have the same capacity to consume us to the point where we never chase those elusive rainbows dancing across our skies. We want to know whether we’re good enough, whether people like us… Am I beautiful? Do I have a big purpose in life and if I do, how in the world do I find it? Will I one day find the love that leaves me breathless, weak at the knees and giddy? Where am I going? Do I matter?
To truly find ourselves, to know inherently who we are as an individual, we have to ask some tough questions. Some people will find themselves easily, seemingly born with an innate sense of self; others will search for many years and undergo true heartache before that sense of self is firm. Regardless, we are all trying to find our place in the universe and discover who we are; yet the questions that I’m talking about are actually very different to those listed above. Instead of asking whether we’re good enough or whether people like us, I think we need to carefully evaluate our lives and decide what is truly important to us.
Here’s the kicker: for the most part, we tend to live a materialistic world where who we are is defined by what we have and what we do. Often, we form light-hearted shallow relationships that don’t allow us to freely bare our souls. Sometimes we are just living our lives as a pale imitation of who we truly are. So when I talk about evaluation, I don’t mean whether you want to work in an office or from home; I don’t mean what you’re going to study at uni or how much money you’ll make afterwards to pay for your house or your car or your wardrobe. I don’t want to know about those things, because none of them is you, the real you.
What I mean is, do you believe in searching for your courage even when the fear is strangling you? Is the need to do what’s right enough to steel your spine in the face of danger and disdain? Do you feel that fiery stirring in your soul to fight for those who can’t protect themselves?
Is there a deep hunger lodged beneath your breastbone to live this life as joyfully, passionately and madly as you can?
Maybe I’m naïve to believe that we should be living our lives in pursuit of this kind of life, but I do believe it very deeply… And I’m more than happy to admit that if I’m (mostly) constantly striving, then I’m certainly not always achieving – that’s the human condition. I’m just trying to convey that we should be aspiring to live life to its utmost. It’s easy to say that and harder to do, but I understand how some days, it seems like the living you’re doing at the moment is all you can do. I understand how the world can close in on you, crushing you. I understand how you can lose your joy.
I’ve seen the terrifying blackness of the pit of my own despair, my own self-loathing and my own confusion. I know that I have felt the sharpness of my loneliness as keenly as a blade, so that I was left savaged, bleeding and exhausted from it; my grief wrung me dry, creating an aching hollowness inside me that could not be filled by the outside world. In those moments, I was a fragile shell of myself, an emptiness existing with an outwardly ‘fine’ mortal frame encompassing me. And there I was, wanting to feel, needing to feel anything more than what I was, anything other than this persistent grief that ate away at me and twisted me. Please believe that I can understand losing your joy: I have sat in the rain on stormy beaches and considered letting go because I believed the misery and the pain burning its way through me was more important than who I used to be, and who I could be again. I thought that perhaps I was lost forever in the darkness.
But the only person who could save me was me. And the worst part is that singular terrifying thought: I have to save myself. I have to decide who am I and I have to climb my way out of this. We are given such a short time to live our lives, to flower into the world and dazzle with the radiance of our souls and any moment could cut that time even shorter. I can promise you that finding out who you really are, loving yourself and honouring that truth will make you shine all the brighter. Don’t let the days slip away not being yourself, not knowing yourself: whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you have been… You deserve more than that.
If nothing else, go out today and live your best life. Find the beauty in the sunshine (even when you get sunburnt) and allow yourself to laugh so hard at something silly that your stomach hurts and you cry a little. Please sing along, really loudly, to a song that pulls you in and read some poetry that makes you feel (if you’re stuck, Ernest Hemingway is a pretty amazing place to start).
When someone you love reaches for you, be present for them. Love them as much as you can, until your body almost can’t hold it.
Just live for today.