This is the part where I impart some lesson learned through all of this, right? The wrap up at the end is typically where there is an overlying theme. I make no promises here. If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s to trust in myself. There have been many people who have told me this over the years, in one way or another, from Animal Curators, to respected individuals in my field, a USDA inspector, permitting officers, zookeepers, field biologists, and yet the one that sticks out most in my mind, an Indian computer programmer/swing dancer in Columbus.
He spent the first minute of the song teaching me the mechanics of the steps, and after that told me "stop letting your brain get in your way! You know the steps, your body knows what to do and you’re good at it, just trust your body." It’s a tough thing to do, when it goes against the grain. Following my instincts has always been something that I tend to do naturally, but sometimes I let the fog descend due to lessons learned and I just sit down and color.
The bit of clairvoyance that I am finding tonight is how I absorb myself in creative outlets when I experience unpleasant situations, stress, or unhappiness. I taught myself to wood burn, I embroidered, I crochet toys, hats, and scarves, and I write, to name a few. When I look back over the past few years at the moments when I learned a new skill, it always revolves around a less than pleasing time in my life. I don’t forget about what’s going on, I simply work through it by not allowing myself to be dragged down by what’s not going right in my life.
I’ve been called pessimistic, negative, even toxic, yet the truth that I have discovered, through much self exploration, is that when life is progressing and I’m in a rut or things aren’t going great, I refuse to focus on the crap. I turn to drawing, hand lettering, writing out cards for friends that are positive and complimentary, because it makes me feel better. When I have a terrible day, I listen to my friends tell me about their day, and I console or offer a shoulder or advice if they need it, and then I feel better. Of course I’m not perfect and I have fits of frustration and I complain, I’m not perfect, but that’s the surface me. Deep down, I turn to something else when things are that bad for me.
This writing experience has allowed me to feel vulnerable in a safe way, it has allowed me to open up and explore a new way of expressing myself, and through it all, I see patterns in my writing that have led me to where I am now. It’s not easy, but ultimately, I have hope it’s better.
Monday, October 23, 2017
The mind is a remarkable thing. The way that it can take information and remember, or twist, convince you of feelings or not, it’s amazing. If you believe something, truly believe it, the mind will work to convince you that that thing is the truth. Learning to be open to being wrong, it’s not easy. The true path to enlightenment lies within the ability to go through life knowing nothing. Because as soon as you "know" something, it limits the possibilities that exist. And enlightenment is possibility, endless, open, magnificent possibilities.
I don’t know if there is only this life to live on the planet, I don’t know what our purpose is, in this tiny flicker of existence on a landform that’s been around for millions of years, perhaps there is none. Perhaps we make up our own meanings to validate our own existence, to ourselves, to society. We want happiness in life, we want to feel like we have a purpose, that we can influence change, for the better, and some times for the worse. It’s about control, having some sense that we have control over something...our lives, destiny, our work, our lover, a creature, a plant....something. To feel like we have an impact, sometimes it’s the most basic desires that drive us so hard in life.
What do you do when you don’t feel like you have control, or you don’t feel like you make an impact? When it seems that nothing makes sense, and you aren’t able to control any aspect of your life, learned helplessness kicks in and you go through the motions, because ultimately what’s the point otherwise? When we feel like we don’t have a chance to change anything, it goes against our human nature and we just give up. Fighting through those feelings is hard, pushing back against the grain and digging your heels in to say "No, I am not going to cave, I want to change this, and I’m going to work to make a difference!", it can be the hardest and bravest thing an individual can do. Fighting against the constant barrage of negativity, of feeling like one person can’t make a difference...one person CAN and does make a difference, every day it happens.
Whether it’s one person saying "No thanks, I don’t need a straw.", or "I think we should try this approach next.", you never know when your words or actions will impact and affect someone’s life so deeply that a small change will take hold and turn into something more. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, to live fully, to move on when it’s best, to stand up for what you believe in; it may not feel like it makes a difference and it may feel like your words fall on deaf ears, but you never know when they aren’t. And what that ripple will cause.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
The same could potentially be said for finishing as well. You just simply stop doing what you were doing. However, breaking a habit, or a routine, isn't always easy. Change is hard, and when something has been a part of your life in a way for months, or years, it can be scary to say you're moving on. But healing.
Whether you're fleeing from a fire-breathing dragon while being chased by a hoard of horseback riding, screaming madmen wielding deadly blades, and not knowing when to surrender, or you're standing on the outskirts waiting for the massacre to end, so you can surrender and hopefully live in peace afterwards, it's ultimately with what can you live with for yourself. Do you need to fight until the end for your pride, or can you realize when enough is enough and call a truce to save your men(tal health)?
Holding onto a security blanket, or a person, and believing that you're independent while using a crutch to stay "sane"...can you really claim that you're a strong, independent person? There's no shame in being weak sometimes. There's nothing wrong with leaning on someone else from time to time; I don't believe that having a source of pleasure in life that you can revel in from time to time when you are feeling most vulnerable makes you a weak individual. Everyone needs someone sometimes, whether it's a friendly soul to go out and have a relaxing beverage with, or a friendly okapi to snuggle into your shoulder, or a fat cat that claims your lap as their domain. Souls helping souls is what life is all about, no one can do it all on their own, as strong and independent as one might be, there is a point where vanity and pride can be a negative thing. There are other times when it's a benefit, everything in moderation, as always.
A wall of memories, a desk full of small notes, brochures and maps from places visited, any memento that reminds me of a person that has helped shape into who I am...moving all of the dusty cobwebs to make room for new memories is hard. It's a tangible reminder and representative of a big part of my life. Listening to "What If You", and the first lyrics are "What if you could wish me away....what if you spoke those words today?" I haven't felt like I've been in a bad place these last 7 years, in fact it's quite the opposite. I'm ready for a change though, something with a promise at the end and something that will inspire me to hope; big words for me to speak, I'm not 100% sold on that yet, so we'll see how it all works out.