Saturday, November 8, 2014

these are gifts.

I am here.
I am here to record my story. My thoughts, my experiences, my struggles. My moments of joy and exhilaration. What I give and what I receive. I am here to record my journey, because life moves fast. My head and heart are constantly overflowing and I will attempt to catch these fleeting waves of energy in strings of letters. I am here, and that alone takes my breath away.

I have decided to write my first post about change, because change is a dear friend of mine by now. I crave change; I seek it out.
This, I know full well, is because my greatest fear is of stagnating.
But furthermore, change is what life is to me. As long as I am living and breathing, I require of myself that I change. I insist on evolving and expanding in an attempt to understand the full potential of this life.

Throughout the last few years, my life has changed in countless ways. When I look back on the past five years, I can identify at least one massive change per year - but in most cases many more. This is nothing like I thought it would be; nothing like I imagined. Some of the cycles of change that occurred have been very rapid, and others have been long. Some changes were welcome, others...not so welcome - at least initially. And many have been self initiated. Sometimes, because I have been able to see clearly that the state of things is not what's best for me, but other times motivated by a spark of that stagnation fear.

Sometimes I wonder how I have stayed level-headed through all of this...what some might call turmoil, or instability. Well there is a little secret that I figured out somewhere along the way.
The traumas and turmoils of life are gifts. They must not only be likened to gifts, but truly understood as such. These struggles present opportunities for massive growth...and that, in my mind, is a precious gift. When I finally realized that all the things I had been experiencing (and would continue to experience) were growing pains, my perspective took a 180.  The keyword is growing. Synonyms for growing: sprouting, budding, bursting forth, blooming, flourishing, thriving, emerging, becoming, beginning to feel. When I am going through something extremely difficult, I picture my bones growing, pressing at my skin a little. That metaphor is beautiful to me. I picture myself becoming taller and stronger, because I know that's exactly what's happening mentally and emotionally.

The second realization I have had is that kernels of joy and comfort can always be found in the everyday. And life is everyday + everyday + everyday, is it not? Finding these kernels is simply a matter of tuning in mentally. When you put yourself on a positive wavelength, opportunities present themselves to you. Opportunities to share a smile with someone, opportunities to banter and laugh, opportunities to taste a beautifully earthy undertone in your coffee. It sounds simple, and that's because it is. It's all about the simple things, and the simple things are always there. This realization has changed my life drastically.

It may seem paradoxical, but another thing that has kept me afloat is the power to initiate change myself. When things shift and crumble around me, I know that while those changes were not within my power, there are many things I do have the power to change. So in these times, I tend to overhaul a lot of things at once.  When you think your life is falling apart, or at least some aspect of it, you are prompted to reassess. You can choose not to, but that generally results in pain instead of growth. I interpret the changes that I cannot control as signals that my life is moving and changing. So I get up and get moving, asking, "how far can I ride this wave to become a better version of myself?"

I like to conduct thought experiments about interactions between my current self and one of my past selves. (These thought experiments are pretty amusing because I rack my brain trying to relate to those past selves and fill in their thoughts.)  One consists of me telling, say, 17-year-old Emi, the sequence of events that would transpire over the next 5 years. It would probably go something like this:
            Me: "Hey! How's it going? So I just wanted to drop by and give you a heads up on all the weird, crazy stuff that's about to happen in your life. Here's a little guidebook I put together - sort of a minimalist kitsch aesthetic you'll come to appreciate. Anyways, there's a whole lot of bullshit in there. A lot of unpleasant circumstances. And definitely a bunch of people that are going to waste your time and emotion, trying to bring you down just for their own satisfaction. I know you're gonna have to learn the hard way, but just trust the process."              
Her: "Umm, I think you have the wrong person. Because this is not at all what I have been picturing and planning out for, literally, years."            
Me: "No, I'm like, 110% sure about this. I actually just lived through it, which means you're about to!"            
Her: " I said. I have this plan..."            
Me: "[dry, slightly maniacal laughter] Yeah yeah I remember. But that is not how it's gonna go down because it turns out life doesn't really work that way."            
Her: "Alright well...shit. This, yeah, this does not look appealing. I really don't think I want to deal with this stuff. I think I'm gonna opt out and crawl into this hole in the ground now."            
Me: "Wait, not so fast. Maybe I forgot to mention that this is all totally worth it. You're going to be so, so ridiculously happy and so incredibly strong after all of this. You're going to transform in dimensions you don't even know exist yet. Just trust me, kid."

I'm glad I didn't know all of the gifts of growth I would receive in advance, because my head would have been spinning. I'm glad life happens one day at a time, and that when the challenges grew, I rose to meet them day by day, drawing on the strength from the last battle overcome.

And the truth is exactly that...that I am happy. Ridiculously happy. I wouldn't trade any of the experiences I have had for something easier, for a more placid or status quo life. I wouldn't have the strength and standards I have today if this were a smooth ride. I wouldn't have the fiercely positive outlook that makes me proud to be who I am, and excited to wake up every single morning. This is nothing like I thought it would be; nothing like I imagined. I am unafraid. And that's why I'm celebrating.

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