Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
// Elizabeth Gilbert
Sometimes our lives tear us apart. That’s the reality of having a life I suppose, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
Last week was one of those, Rebel Without a Cause ‘you’re tearing me apart’ sort of weeks for me. The leftovers of past sleep deprivation and the stress of being busy smeared itself over each passing day. It was a tough string of days for no particular reason other than everything seemed just a little more labored than usual, a little more emotional than usual… Maybe that was the problem, my expecting it to be usual – whatever that is- instead of letting things exist as they are.
I use to be in the habit of pretending everything was great, even when I was exhausted and annoyed and uninspired. Even when things went terribly wrong and even when my head would be exploding with anxiety, I’d somehow muster up enough willpower to convincingly pretend that my struggle and issues were no big deal.
Sometimes it was convenient and useful, but most of the time it was actually demoralizing. You see, I wasn’t letting the truth of how I felt in. I was shutting everything out in order to trick myself into believing I had control over my experience and emotional responses.
So I’d push the depth of my feelings far away from me and try to focus on something else. Instead addressing my anxiousness or loneliness or whatever else I was feeling I’d simply turn up the music a little louder and cannon ball into work, or cleaning, or yoga, or reading, or cooking, or anything that would occupy my attention so I didn’t have to come to terms with what was really going on with in me. And for years I was able to I fool myself into believing that if I didn’t acknowledge the crappy times or the struggles of the anxiousness or the days when I felt totally and utterly lost, then they didn’t have to exists.
Boy was I wrong.
But luckily life isn’t easily ignored. And important life lessons are not easily skipped.
How boring and stagnant our lives would be if it was easy to ignore our emotions and feelings, how lifeless our character would be if life didn’t force us to take the tough dirt road sometimes.I suppose what I’m saying is that life is always a rhythm of up and down. And just as you can’t ignore someone you love or something that brings you joy, you can’t ignore the challenges and the struggles that land on your doorstep. You can’t push away the tough days or weeks and make room for the good ones. No, you either welcome life in with it’s unpredictable ups and downs or you reject it completely.The choice is always ours. Do we let life in or do we become controlling by trying to keep it out?
I hope we all get to a place in our lives, and within ourselves to let it in. To let the beauty and the ugliness of our lives exist as they are. Because if you can’t be real with yourself and make some room in your life for the truth of who you are and how your doing – no matter how inconvenient it at times may seem- then you never learn what you love, or what brings you back to feeling good and whole once again when you get bent out of shape.
The pendulum can’t only swing one way. I remind myself if this often. There were moments of last week that were tiring and stressful as hell, and there were moments that put the biggest smile on my face that you could not have wiped off for a million bucks. (Life hack: if you are feeling down and out, get thee to the ocean.) My point is, I don’t think it’s wrong or a bad sign if once in a while life tears you up into a bunch of little lost pieces and leaves you feeling sad or tired or misunderstood. So don’t fret if that’s where you are right now. You’re not alone.
But sometimes hiding in the debris of a struggle are amazing moments, an unexpected special kind of beauty and love that comes out of being put back together again.
Remember, there is always a little ugliness and harshness in the purest form of beauty.So thank you to the loves of my great life, special special souls who selflessly put me back together again, and who each and every day leave me better than they’ve found me.
I love you, always.
Photos from a recent mountain biking trip in Point Reyes National Park.
(Photos and writing by Erin Cookston)