Dropping the Expectations of 2018: Recounting Three Days of Anxiety Ridden Thoughts, a Shattered Projection, and Establishing Myself in the Wildness of Things
January, 1st 2018
My hand moves beneath the glossy scene before me; fascinated by the reflection that blankets my body, one more clear than the soft glow of the candle sitting on the slippery ledge, I curl my hand upwards, and like a statue it holds steady, causing the glossy scene to give way to a harsher, more disturbed state.
I feel that there is no comfortable way to say this. No clear, feather-like melody that I can project in order for you to understand, but go ahead, let us nod in agreement, because what else are we to do?
The words I say don’t make sense to you, just as much as they don’t make sense to me; whatever it is I am looking for, cannot be salvaged from the eyes of another, I must take a deeper, longer, more intent look into my own, and even then it’s not guaranteed that I’ll be pleased with what I find, at least night right away.
What is it that I’m looking for? What is it that plagues me with guilt — with the idea that my past, the things I didn’t do, will somehow keep me a few steps behind the person I first imagined, and just like all those years ago, projected into my future?
She is not me, nor will I ever be her.
So why the desperate chase? Why the tears that stream down my face when I have found that another year has gone by, and no matter the amount of love that surrounds me, sadness, anger, and shame have often found their way in, mindlessly piling junk on top of my ambitions and picking their teeth with my daydreams.
These are all questions I cannot answer, and I don’t expect that to change - so what is all of this about anyway?
It’s about you and me and what I'm suppose to say. It’s about the pressure we put on ourselves and the words that aren’t always there. It’s about the emotions that take over and the stepping back that keeps you sane. It’s about feeling both overwhelmed and excited by the world, and doing your best to juggle the two.
It’s thinking that you have tomorrow figured out.
It’s the initial letdown, anger, and then relief when you realize you never will.
January 2nd, 2018
By now, it’s morning. I’ve long since pulled my body from the bath water after it went cold, and reached for the covers and the fear that comes with night. “I will fall asleep early,” I tell myself, “I will wake up fresh and the words will flow out of me like the water drained from the tub.”
It’s as if I had almost forgotten that the most unruly of thoughts are often faced when the sun goes down. When the veil is lifted. When darkness streams through your window. When the chattering of day fills the ears of the night; a time for peace and quiet is replaced by hands breaking the surface and causing a ripple of disturbance, again, again, and again…
The appointment you did not make.
The ends you did not meet.
The conversation you did not have.
The pain that you still feel.
The doubt trickling down, down, down to your toes.
Now, as my eyes are heavy from a restless night, peering out at a sky that has been painted pink, almost as if celebrating the arrival of day, and the candles burn the color and feeling of warm, I remind myself that this is only human. That those feelings, though it may seem like I am experiencing them alone, are not my own. They are part of a much bigger picture; a world of doubt, pain, conversations that never happened, ends that were never met, and appointments that could not be made.
Funny, how they can trick you into thinking otherwise. In isolation, loneliness, and with the certainty that climbing out is not an option.
Oh, but it is.
A few days ago, we woke up in the desert. I could see my breath and feel the tinge of cold against the sides of my sleeping bag. I could also feel the New Year. All the lists in the making, goals, and intentions that were being set, and the expectations of happiness, prosperity, optimal health, and financial security, not to mention weight that would be lifted as soon as the clock struck midnight.
These are all good and wonderful things, things that can be sought after, but for me, not all at once. Not on a day that I’m told to feel a certain way. Not on a day that I wake up and find that the sadness and anger of depression have burrowed into my thoughts. Those emotions have no rulebook, holidays, or vacations — they really do live moment to moment.
An idea worth pursuing: Every day is a day to start. A day to set goals and strive for better and greater things. If it feels right to reflect and take note, then do! Absolutely do, but January 1st doesn’t have to be the day or even your day. Your day could be February 1st, March 23rd, July 30th, or even the day after tomorrow at 2:21 pm.
You decide and you take note of what feels right, and if you don't know, which is me most of the time, that’s ok too. The predictions of tomorrow are often just projections from our present and past, a view that can be changed, altered, or wiped from the board at any moment.
After digging around for my socks and battery for my camera, I leaned over far enough to see out the window of the Chinook (our little camper truck), and there it was complete and total bliss. Though fleeting, as the truest of emotions often are, it was there, setting the sky on fire with the richness of deep blue and purple, even pink dancing over the mountains, and the moon, still there, shone as bright as ever.
This, I think, is what I live for…
The joy of knowing no matter how my day goes, or where I am, I get to wake up and make myself a cup of coffee.
Eating good food, made by good people, in a good, good place.
Going for a walk in the woods, desert, around the lake — with no one but myself.
The calm I feel after talking myself down from the edge of anxiety, panic, and all-consuming sadness. It’s taking control of what you can do, right now.
Stepping outside before bed, just to look up, allowing the vastness of the stars and sky overpower any unknowns, stresses, or worries you might be fixated on. Best described as feeling small — letting all the “should have’s” go.
Colors, smells, sights, and sounds; the gift of caring for the earth and all of its magic.
January, 3rd 2018
Even the expectation around what this piece would be — a wondrous, rich, full of life, and movement piece. One where I was all consumed by a passion for what I love: writing, creating, and being sucked into a moment without a second thought.
This is not what I told myself it was.
This is a piece of writing I have come back to again and again, frustrated by what I couldn’t say, rather than seeing what I already did. I wanted more and I expected more from myself. More detail, fruitful words, while never falling short of the message. Of what I wish to give from my heart to yours.
What I’m really putting into question isn't whether or not I can convey what I want to convey, but if I have the oomph, the gumption, the dedication to stick with this. To take the knotted thoughts and untangle them in front of you without making a mess of it all, and myself.
But maybe that's the point, to have it all be seen, and to still show up without question or judgment.
I woke up feeling frustrated and angered. This life and all of its pink skies and moments of bliss, does not come without those internal battles. Those fights that only you can see, feel, and attempt to talk down from a ledge.
They’re there, amongst the grass that grows despite the rocks, roots, and buildings.
They're there, in every crooked and broken branch, through every season and every storm.
They’re there, as you rise to the occasion.
Forgive and love and the whole lot of it. They’re there, ready to challenge you. To test you. To measure themselves up again the person that you are — tempting you too long for something, someone else. But time and time again, you don't give in. You stand your ground, but not without tears, broken hearts, failed attempts, and the empty pit of fear that this will never end.
But I can say that it will because I’ve seen it.
I’ve felt it, and in fact, I feel it now. Because I’m doing the very thing those haunting, dark, and always pending emotions did not want me to do — write this.
To climb the wall and find my way out, reminding myself that I can, each time a little stronger and more able to not just stand my ground, but root my feet, establishing myself within the wildness of things.