I haven’t written much lately, I’ve had less than enough energy to get me through the day, sleeping more than I typically do and allowing my big salty tears to wash down my face whenever I’m alone. I feel like a failure. Just over two months ago I was sitting on top of the world, living my dreams, feeling like I could take on any challenge and ready for whatever was next. Here I am now, feeling stuck and not sure what to do next. My trip to LA was less than satisfying; I left with a dark cloud formed over my head that I’ve started to welcome as a new normal. I walk around only half listening to my surroundings, shivering from the brisk cold that has settled in the MiniApple and monotonously stomping through the dead leaves gathered on the sidewalks. Gloom and self doubt have taken over, while the “winter is coming” practical Minnesota attitude eats away at my once stubborn sunshine.
Today being Sunday, I went over to my grandma’s house in the afternoon to eat dinner and paint some rocks with my Aunt Deb who plans to sell these rocks at a crafts fair. We broke out markers, paint and a couple tubs of rocks, splaying them out to decorate and plan which rocks get what. I painted flowers and a sun with the words “Happiness is..” and hearts, stars and words like “grace”, “truth”, “hope”, and “love”. While we decorated, we talked about the goings-on within the family. As I half listened to the news, my mind kept reverting to the new normal of self pity until my aunt said something about her unhappy childhood. I immediately asked her what made it so unhappy to which she replied, “Having to camp.”
I looked down at the rock where I was writing “grace”. It all hit me. Perspectives. My aunt hated camping apparently, but I loved camping when I was little and attribute it to some of my favorite experiences growing up. The biggest inspiration from moving toward a life of freedom and peace comes from a yoga sutra I learned when I was training to teach yoga. Pratipaksha Bhavanam means whenever a negative thought comes into the head, think instead of something positive. It isn’t about never having a negative thought or never thinking that life is hard or really sucks sometimes, rather it’s about not holding onto the negative feelings that can overwhelm us to the point of getting stuck. And I’ve gotten stuck.
I pondered over that word grace, though. I’ve been called graceful, as in the way I move and my interactions with people. I remembered my conversation with Lucky at the Sacramento Bus Terminal. He told me I have a good head on my shoulders and warned me that whatever I do, don’t get stuck. I think grace is allowing my head to stay high because come to think of it, I’m not a failure. I did what most people only dream about; I jumped and decided to live. Maybe I could have made different choices along the way, I could have saved more money or bought a different van, or even just found a new roommate. I’ve thought of every way I could have done things better. This isn’t graceful; this is painful, and as easy as it is for me to remain curled up licking my wounds, I’m not done yet.
I took my aunt home and on my drive back toward the suburbs and my parent’s house, I repeated out loud all that I am grateful for. It was a big slice of humble pie that I didn’t want to admit I needed. I didn’t want to come back to Minnesota, I definitely didn’t want to rely on my family and I didn’t want to leave the life and community I’ve worked so hard to attain. On the other hand, I’ve learned so many lessons in the last few months. This is life and I can focus on how much I’m not where I want to be, or I can choose to find joy in the brilliant red leaf that landed on my shoulder, or that I can give my sister a hug at the end of the night and eat some of my grandma’s freshly baked apple crisp. I’m realizing that grace is allowing life to unfold and accepting everything even when it cannot be changed. Truth is perspective, meaning each human has their own truth, tinged with their emotions and experiences. My aunt Deb claims she had an unhappy childhood due to camping while I feel my childhood was enhanced by our outdoor excursions. Neither of us is wrong, though it’s in the perspective, how we view life, what we focus on, how we choose to remember now.
In Minnesota, I’ve noticed a curious trend where complaints are vocalized and compliments are implied (or left out all together). It’s hard to combat, though that’s exactly what I need to do. Tomorrow I’m moving into another family member’s house, committing myself to a routine and I’m looking for moments of happiness where I can allow myself to be content. That’s the hardest part, figuring out how to be content even when we aren’t where we want to be. Our thoughts, perspectives and actions are all choices and yeah, it’s fucking hard. The only way to keep going is to feel it, add these experiences to my character book, digest and hopefully share a bit of love with anyone else who might need a smile.
Tonight, I vow to stop fighting and allow grace to take over. It may not be my ideal transition, but the MiniApple holds so many wonderful things, I might as well find them while I’m here; adventure doesn’t wait for a blue sky.