There was a dull orange glow on a rocky ledge in the darkness of the surrounding woods. My elevation was high enough that I could look down at the world. I was high enough to see things from a different point of view. The sky was covered in stars that night. The moon was full and all else was quiet. I swear, it is amazing what we hear when there is no noise. It is amazing what we hear when there is nothing in the background, except for the voice of our thoughts.
The world is such a big place. And we are small. Really small. We are less than a glimpse. Our connection with time is lengthy, yet, our time in the grand scheme of time is quicker than a flashing light. There are so many things that happen at once. There are too many ideas that come at one time and more often than not, there’s a lot more riding on each and every moment.
There was some graffiti on the wall at a construction site on 46th Street. the words read, “This moment is more precious than you think.” It is hard to argue with this logic. Every moment leads us to something. Everything we do is interconnected. There is more to this moment than we realize. I know this now. I knew this before too it’s just that, well —sometimes we learn our lessons a little too late.
See, time is an excellent teacher. Time can be an excellent motivator too, especially when there’s none left. Sometimes we get the point. We learn our lesson. Other times, we seem to miss the mark. We find ourselves on the poor end of the lesson. But either way, we learn. Rest assured, we always learn. Come to think of it; we are always learning. Constantly. The brain is always calculating. Always figuring the difference between pertinent and irrelevant information and often misreading between the two. Either way, we learn. However, whether we learn the easy way or the hard way is up to us. Not every lesson is accurate. Not every teacher is appropriate but either way, a lesson learned is still a lesson learned. The trick here is to unlearn and say goodbye to our personal inaccuracies.
There is a question here.
What else has to happen?
What has to happen for you to make the changes and the adjustments for you to have the life you’ve always wanted? With regards to the life you live, is this the life you have or is this the life you’ve always wanted?
What has to be done to make this life the one you want?
The questions are simple and straight forward. The answers are also simple. And Obvious too. It’s the action that becomes difficult. This involves letting go. This means effort. This takes work and discipline. This means to make the change, we have to be the change, which involves a strong commitment on our part.
At times, this also means we have to part with some of our comforts (even if they are uncomfortable). This means we have to say goodbye to some of our old routines. We have to create new ones. This can be awkward, like teaching ourselves to write with a different hand. We have to find new strategies, new plans and new goals. Otherwise, the roads we take lead back to more of the same. Hence the need to say goodbye. Thus, we have to unhinge from the factors that degrade us or prevent our growth.
There is a quote from a book, which I recall hearing for the very first time. “We thought that we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our common, we beg you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us tried to hold onto our old ideas but the result was nil until we let go absolutely.”
I think about this quote often. I think about the things I hold onto. I think about the anchors I’ve been chained to, which only prove to keep me stuck. I think of the self-abuse and the inner monologue that weigh heavy and keep me down. I think about being chained to ideas that prevent me from ever moving forwards (or being my best).
Put simply, the result of my growth is nil until I let go absolutely.
I think about the countless goodbyes I’ve said to old rituals and old routines. I think about the goodbye letters, which I have written to undesirable moments in my life. I think of the goodbyes I’ve written to the things I cannot change and the letters of farewell to feelings that no longer serve me. I’ve said goodbye to pain. I’ve said goodbye to the critical thoughts.
I think about that night by the fire. I was up high on the trails in the deadness of a dark night. The orange glow from the fire, shimmering and glowing on my face. My deep brown eyes staring directly into the flames, My brownish-blonde hair, shaggy and wild. My beard was just coming in then. As a matter of fact, a lot of things were just coming in.
I had too many thoughts. I had too many stressors and too many questions. I had too much on my plate at once but yet, I couldn’t let go absolutely. I just didn’t know how. I was unsure how to relinquish all the worry. I did not understand how to let go of the pain. Besides, where was I to find the strength? Where was I to find the discipline?
I wanted so many things but yet, the world is not always in accordance with my plans. There are days when the winds are at my back and others when the wind is in my face. There are times when things go my way and times when life is more of a challenge. Sometimes however, the lessons click and I learn.
Sometimes, I miss out. However, the one thing I’ve learned is life is a relentless teacher. Whether I get the lesson quickly or not, like any teacher, the lessons keep coming until I finally get it right. The bitch of it is, when you don’t get things right the first time; it’s like you have to stay after class and write something on the blackboard a thousand times.
I don’t know if I always have to learn the hard way. Maybe it seems this way. Or, maybe I just learn whichever way I can. Maybe I learn slowly. Maybe I need the scars to remember a bit more clearly. Or, maybe I need a special way to retain the information. Either way, I’ll learn.
Teach me. I’ll try . . .
In fairness, I learn more by association. I don’t learn very well from big words or long winded conversations. I have to keep things simple. Otherwise, it’s too easy for me to get lost. And when this happens, I find myself just nodding to agree with people instead of nodding because I understand.
There are times when we feel the pain of consequence. In the same breath, we understand what it’s like to be in danger. The world could give way at any moment. It is times like this that we know; we understand our mistakes. Everyone understands the dangers when the threats are real. (Understand?)
We are quick to forget though. This is true. We forget very easily. For example, everyone takes their medicine when they feel sick. The problem is we forget to finish the medication when we start to feel better. We tend to forget because the discomfort is gone. Therefore, the threat is gone. We find ourselves with a renewed sense of comfort.
Or wait. No. Perhaps I should bring this back to me. Perhaps not everyone relates to the medication analogy. Maybe most people out there follow instructions. Who knows? Perhaps this is only a “Me” thing. However, my point is the greater the threat, the more we pay attention.
I am thinking about that night by the campsite. The world is truly a dark place up in the woods. I have been in dark places before. I have been in scary places too and deadly places as well. I’ve had to hide in the dark before, hoping to God that no one gets to me. I was in the woods and in the dark. I was alone but yet, I was not hiding from anyone. There was no need to hide anymore. Instead, I whispered my goodbyes to the stars and told them all about the sins that I didn’t want anymore.
I didn’t need the shame anymore. I said goodbye to the competition in my head, which never allowed me to win, place or show. I said goodbye to the thinking that always holds me back and keeps me in what seems to be the last place.
I thought about that quote and finding an easier, softer way.
I thought about the chapter it comes from. I thought about the words, “Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to claim anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not Saints. The point is we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.”
I had to become willing. I had to be willing to accept the truths as well as willing to accept the consequences of my actions.
I had to accept that time does not care whether I get my share or not. Time is only my teacher and not all teachings are lessons of kindness.
I have to be willing to make the commitment myself, which means whatever work that needed to be done; I am the one that has to do it.
And so to you, now, I am saying goodbye again. I am saying goodbye to the disdain, the contempt for self and goodbye to the regretfulness. I am saying goodbye to the constant competition, which only exists to me. I am saying goodbye to the comparisons between myself and others. I am saying goodbye to the depressive ideas which have kept me anchored and stopped me from sailing away —to be free.
I always go back to that line from Jim Carrol:
Little kids shoot marbles
where the branches break the sun
into graceful shafts of light . . .
I just want to be pure.”
Me too, Jim.
I just want to be good. I want to be whole. I want to be free and find myself at the doorstep of this dream I have.
The world may not always be in accordance with my plans.
But that’s fine.
This isn’t the world’s job.
It’s my job.
I have to go now.
I have some work to do . . .