It is March on Earth. Our side of the hemisphere is circling around to move closer towards the sun. Soon enough, the warmer months will lead to longer days, which I appreciate. However, there has always been a madness to me in the warmer months.
There is a strange sense of connection between the beaches and the sands and bodies who forget the oceans in the colder times. Friends out of convenience is how I view this. Of course, this is only an analogy between us.
Either way, I am here with you now. I am a person in the world. No better. No worse. I am writing this as an open letter to you, with hopes that this finds you at the perfect time.
We find ourselves with the questions, “What do I do” or “How do I endure?” As I write this to you, I openly admit that in all fairness, I am not sure that victory or success translates the same way to anyone else.
I know what victory feels like to me. I know what success feels like and I understand what it means to achieve something. Yet, I’m not sure if I know what this means.
I can say that we have countless abilities that we take for granted. For example, I know that I can wiggle my toes. I can raise my hand if I want attention. I can speak. I can hear. I can listen and I can walk.
I know that my heart beats without me saying so. I breathe on an automatic basis. My eyes blink naturally. I can eat and digest food. I can drink and quench my thirst.
I say again, I can wiggle my toes without a sense of victory; however, what about the person who was told they would never walk again? What about the person who thought something as simple as wiggling their toes was impossible – and then one day, the impossible happens – what about them?
Do you know what this is like?
As I write to you, a friend of mine is lying in a hospital with a colostomy bag. They said they removed the cancer. Or, at least, they said they removed what they could.
I don’t know what it is like to overcome something like this, nor should I pretend to relate, nor will I act as if I can.
My friend Papo and I go back a ways. Perhaps not as long as some of my other friends but still, he is my friend nonetheless.
How does a friend like this find victory? What can a person in this place do to feel grateful or a sense of peace?
See what I mean when I say we take things for granted?
(By the way, I made Papo laugh yesterday. He laughed and told me it hurts to laugh. I thought to myself, “That’s okay, Papo. That’s a good pain.”)
I’ve had no choice but to learn to count my small successes. Even the tiny ones. The world is a relative place and to each is their own journey, battle and process.
It’s not so bad. Life, I mean.
I write this to you because throughout my life, I have been a person who catastrophizes and complains. I gave into my thinking errors, which I assumed were always true. In some cases, perhaps I was right. Maybe things were bad and maybe things were about to be worse.
But me, I lived in the problem. I lived in chaos. I lived in the havoc and lived in the tragedies, the turmoil, and the disorders of my life.
Or, in the easiest explanation; I lived in my head for a very long time. I was scared. I was sick. I was angry and resentful. I was both a prisoner and my own warden, judge and jury.
I swore that this was all me. And it was all me. This was my way of thinking. I was the epitome of my own sad assumptions and rather than stand, I surrendered and resigned to the idea that no matter what, I would never be able to stand up straight.
I believed with all of my heart that no matter how hard I tried, nothing would ever work out the way I wanted it to. No dreams would ever come true.
I can remember when I was working for hardly any money at all and it seemed like everyone I knew made more than me. They seemed to have more too.
I can remember when I filed my taxes for the first time. I remember thinking if I could make a little more money, then I would be happy.
I remember my first job. I remember noticing the year when I made $28,000. I thought that my life would change if I could only make $35,000 and then the number went up to 45 and then 55.
I write this fully understanding the amount of money is relative and so is the money we earn. There is no reason to shame a salary. However, my point is not to applaud or shame anyone’s yearly earnings. But more, my view is to shed light that no matter how much I earned, emptiness was still emptiness. Frustration is still frustration and a joyless life at any income is still a joyless life.
I can say that I have met plenty of miserable millionaires. I have met wealthy people who live with such heavy burdens that are enough that keep them stuck in the sludge of self-doubt, insecurity and envy, greed and resentment. I have seen people on the street who swore that this was all they were capable of. I have sat and spoken with people who had no hope, no will and no desire to live.
I have sat with people who try to hide the scars on their wrists and none of this had anything to do with poverty or wealth.
I had the chance to interact with a young man whose family owned a large home in a beautifully wealthy suburban area. Yet, this young man was on the street, homeless, sick, and as it were; he survived a few close encounters with death but still had no desire to live beyond his beliefs. This person had every advantage and he gave up what he had. He forfeited to his illness and though there was a glimmer about him and an ounce of charisma, this was as best as he could be at the time because this was all he believed he could be.
I have compared my life to everyone else. I have compared my successes as well. However, so long as I compare myself, I will only choose to fail (or fade) in comparison to others.
Do you know what it means to stand in front of a crowd and say “This is me” and face their interpretation?
Do you know what it feels like to speak openly, regardless of your fears and insecurities?
To some, this might not be a big deal.
To me, this is me overcoming an emotional stutter.
This is me overcoming a lie and a narrative that was trained and taught to me by a subconscious program that led me down a cognitive path. This is me moving the paralyzed beliefs which were told, “You’ll never walk the way you want to.”
I have never lost sensation in my legs or been paralyzed. I do not know what it’s like to stand and walk after being told “You’ll never stand or walk again.”
However, I do have things to overcome. I do have bouts of my own. I have fears. I have mental limitations. I have a voice in me that whispers louder than a scream and says, “Nobody cares! So, why are you still trying?”
Do you want to know why I still try?
It’s because even if I fail, the day I stop trying is the same day that I prove the bullies, the critics, the people who said I’d fail and, more importantly, the day that I stop trying is the same day that I prove that internal whisper that all of this was right about me.
So what if no one cares and so what if no one listens, or even if someone does listen, so what?
There are people who live with disabilities of their own. Some are more apparent than others and some are certainly more intense than others. But this is not about anyone else.
This is about us.
I beg of you. Please don’t give in.
Please don’t prove the voices right. In fact, forget about the voices and forget about the critics and those who love to spread doubt.
Forget about winning or losing. And forget about the competition.
Please, with all of my heart – look at this day and make it yours.
Be dogged. Be persistent and be consistent.
Find the secret of your endurance. Bite down when it hurts and live your best life.
Forget about who cheers for you or who roots against you.
None of that matters anymore because A) I’m always going to cheer for you and B) The only thing that matters is if you cheer for yourself.
Now go out and make it so.
I’ll be here if you need me.