Of course, you know that you can’t quit. Everyone knows that you can’t just “give up” but, at the same time, there are moments when you have to walk away. There are times when we have to surrender to win or give up the fight against situations or people, places and things. We may not like this. We might not like what’s happening around us. However, there are times when the pain from banging our head against the wall is enough. We can stop this now. We can stop forcing or coercing. We stand up and walk away. We can live to fight another day. Or, we can simply go in peace and find a life that suits us best.
I found myself at a moment of awareness. I was sitting at a table with people who I had known for years. I was listening to them talk. I wasn’t just hearing them, I was actually listening.
I listened to what they were saying and thought to myself, “Am I really still here?”
I can recall the moment:
I remember their faces and the idea that somehow, I had sat with these same people for years and all the while, I never really saw their ugliness. I never questioned or regarded the way they slandered people. Instead, I subjected myself to conversations that were never comfortable and I accepted this like a trade. In short, I settled.
I settled on this trade because in my mind, this was my life. These were the people in my life and this is how they were. This is how they always were, which is not to say that I or they are better or worse. But still, I found myself in a moment of clarity. Or better yet, I saw myself as part of a social, economic and interpersonal food chain.
The idea of sitting with these people was enough to shake my head in disbelief. I began to think about the years of waste. I thought about the social banter and the jostling for social positions and validity.
I thought about the need to be heard or the need “to be right.”
I thought about the emotional warfare and the strategy of manipulative patterns as well as the buried disdain which I felt because, of course, sometimes in life you have to go along to get along. I didn’t want to go along anymore.
I found myself in the courts of disdainful thinking and, thus, I found that my behavior was impacted by my thoughts and emotions. I did things that were in conflict with my true character. I was unhappy and sought happiness and quick fixes and cheap thrills that were unfitting and unworthy of my time. But yet, since my version of value was challenged, the understanding of my worth was challenged as well. Thus, I gave in to unrighteous, unworthy and unhelpful thinking. I started to care less and lose more.
Like many others who’ve made adjustments to their life, I came to the understanding that I needed to change. I was setting my life up in accordance with a supposed way of living.
I lived as I was “supposed” to.
I did what I thought I was “supposed” to do and said what I thought I was “supposed” to say; in which case, I formatted my life in accordance with a social blueprint that was not suitable for me.
Or in simpler terms, I lived my life in accordance with my interpretation of what I thought life was “supposed” to be. I lived according to what I was trained to believe.
We’ve all done this to one degree or another. We’ve all found ourselves in unfit places with unfitting people. We’ve all betrayed ourselves at least once or twice. We’ve all followed the leader at least once and we’ve all looked to bring our report card home with hopes for acceptance and celebration.
I can remember times in my life when I rehearsed my goodbyes. I rehearsed saying the words “I quit!” I’ve practiced speeches on how I was going to make my exit. I’d swear that I meant it; that as soon as the moment arrived I was going to have the “Give ’em a piece of my mind” speech.
I have had these conversations with myself about family. I have had this with friends and loved ones. I have had this with coworkers and supervisors, bosses, cashiers, people who worked at restaurants, someone from the dry-cleaners and the person who worked at the gas station who gave me an attitude – oh, and let’s not forget the random people who I’d held the door open for or allowed them a stitch of common courtesy yet they didn’t even have the common decency to at least say “Thank you.”
I’ve had these conversations in my head and once it was time to go live – I did either one of two things. Most often, I never said what I practiced to say. Quite often, I gave in to my thinking to the depths that I over spoke or overshared or overstepped and crossed the line on some poor unsuspecting schlub who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I looked around me. I looked at the people in my life. I looked at the life I lived and then I came to a moment of consciousness, which improved my level of awareness and just like that – a light bulb turned on above my head.
At that moment, I came to the realization that I could stand up and walk away. I could turn right instead of left. I could make a change. I could change anything. In fact, I could do anything I wanted and no one had the right to stop me.
I could stand up and remove myself from people, places and things. Although this idea was freeing to me, I was crossed with an unnecessary concern that I found interesting.
I wondered if I were to do this, and I mean really do this, I wondered if I were to stand up and leave or if I was to move away or “quit the band” so-to-speak, would I be missed? Would they try to stop me? Would anyone even notice that I was gone?
If they did, would this be sincere? Or would my so-called group of friends or so-called family say their plastic little lies and act in accordance with their plastic little characters?
I was at a crossroads. I was looking at my past and the fact that my future would only be more of the same. I was listening to a banter that I had been part of and never liked. Yet there I was, part of a so-called group.
I was part of something that went against the grain of my character. My needs and my wants were not met. I was not happy. I was never a priority.
Yet, I followed around like a gosling would follow its other goslings with Mother Goose at the head of the chain.
Maybe I was in the rear. Or maybe I was tired of being in the rear. Or maybe I was tired of following. Maybe I was tired of the conversations. I was tired of the slander. I was tired of the banter and the need to jostle for position. I was tired of the life that I was living. But more, I was tired of the lies that I would abide by – just so I could get by.
One night, I was coming home late. The streets were dark and the street lamps were lit. The homes in my suburban neck of the woods were common for this neighborhood. There were cars in the driveway. There were lights on in living rooms and dining rooms. There were lights on in upstairs bedrooms and otherwise, the streets were empty.
I can remember cruising slowly down the streets, not peeping, but I would look inside the windows of people’s houses. I looked as if each window was a television set or a view into another world.
I saw people moving through their homes. I saw parents with their little children. As I pulled up to my house which was close to the end of a cul-de-sac, I looked into the views of a place which I called my home. I thought to myself, “None of this is even mine.”
I thought about the position of my life and the connections I had – or the lack thereof.
“I could go.”
“I could leave”
and life would be better.
I went back to the idea of sitting at that table with people who I’d known for years and yet, did I really know any of them?
Where’s my place in life?
Was it here with them?
Did I belong?
Was I regarded?
Or was I simply a figure?
I remember talking about leaving. I remember practicing my speeches. I remember rehearsing my grand goodbyes and no one thought that I would leave. They never thought that I’d have what it takes to stand up and go. No one thought that I would “do” what I “did” nor did they think I would stay gone if I left. But more, if I did leave, where would I go? What would I have?
To them, I’d have nothing.
To me, I figured that without them, at least I’d have something.
What I had found at this time was the motivation to dare. Perhaps this was due to the fact that I was tired of the life I had. I was uncomfortable. I was unhappy and that’s what churned my motivation.
My concepts of fear were outweighed by my discomforts of my surroundings and just like that, I found the motivation to walk away.
I lost my worry about “What’s going to happen” and found my drive to seek and live a better life.
Someone had told me that the best revenge is good living. I used to agree with that. However, as my levels of consciousness improved, so did my levels of awareness. Ultimately, now that I have a better understanding – I understand that the best revenge is to not need revenge at all.
The best revenge is to be at peace with yourself, to be happy, to live, love, laugh and learn on a steady basis, regardless of our past, of our crowds, of our loved ones, or of anyone.
A moment comes when our eyes open clearly.
And then we see.
We see where we belong and where we don’t.
I’m not sure how or why, but I came to the sudden awareness that the life I had was simply the life I lived; thus, none of this was the life I wanted.
For me, this was one of my greatest “Eureka” moments.
And just like that, I found (It!)
I found what I needed to get up and walk away.
By the way, there’s a word for this.
Does anyone know what it is?
It’s called freedom.