01 September 2004


Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.—Henry David Thoreau

The past month has felt like a lifetime. It’s been a journey for me, one I knew I needed for a long time, but couldn’t figure out where to start. And I am a completely changed person for it. No, I guess you wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at me, but I feel it.

I knew I needed to change something, but I didn’t know what. I knew I didn’t feel alive, I felt like I was waiting for something. Waiting for things to change, so I could be happy. I knew I was overwhelmed, not by anything in particular, but by a lot of little things added up. I felt buried.

I looked for answers. I went to church, I even got suckered into using my home for church meetings. I wound up with a few christian cd’s to listen to in my car (which did help renew my spirit), but that wasn’t the answer. I bought books. Clear up the clutter. Find time for yourself. Organize your life. Change your mood through the colors you paint the walls. Feng Shui for beginners. I don’t remember all the titles, but that’s what they were about. I wound up with a few trunkloads of stuff for goodwill and a organized bathroom, but they didn’t change my life.

One part came close. I brought one of the books and a journal with me to the hospital where I was sitting with my grandma for the day, and the book told me I needed a life’s mission. Which is true. I tried to think of what I’d want people to say about me when I’m dead. She was a good secretary. She had good grades in school. She had some trouble, but finally learned how to keep a clean house. She had a nice sofa. (which I don’t and it bothered me for a while.) No. So I thought about what I did want people to remember and wrote it down. Then I was supposed to make a list of the steps to take to get there, but instead I made a list of specific things I wanted for my life. Then I left the hospital, put the book and the journal in my glove compartment, and there they lived. I felt like I had accomplished something small, but then I forgot about it and when on with life.

And for a while I gave up. I thought about all of the aspirations I had when I was younger and how I hadn’t done anything I had wanted to do. I thought about how much I hated my job and how unhappy I was with my life. I thought about everything I had been working so hard for and how it meant crap to me. I thought about what I had wasted time on and spent money on and it just depressed me more. And I felt old and ugly and useless and unhappy.

And I drowned in it for a little while, on the inside. On the outside you probably wouldn’t have noticed a change, except maybe that I didn’t bother putting on makeup or washing my hair. And I was a little meaner than usual and hated a lot of things. I hated this city, I wrote in my journal how ugly everything looked. I hated my house, I hated my pets, I hated my job most of all, and I didn’t see it changing. I felt tied to the choices I had made. Tied to bills and pets and salaries.

And then I found out my job was being eliminated. I was crushed, worried, angry. But also relieved and actually estatic. I felt happy. I felt free. I knew there was a lot of things I needed to do, but also knew that whether I did them or not, in a month I would never have to walk into that office that I hated so much again. But I did do them. I updated my resume, I met with counselors, I figured out what I was good at and what were my qualities that made me special and unique. I wrote them down. And I read them over and over. And I believed them. And I started to get a little confidence. I started to feel like I deserved better. I deserved to be happy, to feel complete. To enjoy my life, to live my dreams, that it wasn’t too late.

And I got call backs and job offers. And I got a lovely job. An office job, yes, but one that I like and can feel good coming to. A fresh start. And that was the first thing I had written in my things-to-do-to-change-my-life list: get a new job. I took out the list and I started to figure out that I could do the other things too. That they weren’t abstract and things to aspire to, but things that I need right now. Because if not now, when? I saw that on a t-shirt on television and I wrote it down. And I thought about it forever. Because now is all that I have. And I answered for myself, and the answer was never. If not now, then never. And somehow I figured out how to feel alive, and that was to start living. Or maybe I started living and that’s when I figured out how to feel alive. I don’t know. But all of the things I thought I couldn’t do and I thought I would try to do when I got my life back on track, I’ve just started to do.

So, you might not notice the change, but it’s there. It’s in the core of my being. It’s in the way I see things, including myself. I don’t hate who I am, I don’t feel lost in myself anymore. I feel like me. I might still have moments, but it’s not my life anymore. And that’s why I say I’m a completely different person. Because the old me couldn’t do the things I’ve been doing. She couldn’t do them because she was afraid to try.

No comments: