Thursday, January 20, 2011

sorting it out

the freight elevator in my building has been out of order for a little over a week. most of the furniture was meant to be gone by now, but instead it lingers and stales the atmosphere. for the first time, my urgency to sort my possessions has taken a brief recess. lack of physical progression, though, has never seemed to halt my mental movements. my brain grinds at a frequency at which sometimes even i marvel. it tends to make me internally analytical, sometimes overly so, when i'm actually paying attention to it (as implied, i DO tune it out occasionally -- a girl needs to sleep sometimes). it also tends to make me wordy.

unlike my usual late-night insomniatic wonderings, my newest contemplations gripped me in the middle of the day: an undeniable case of the what-ifs. my what-ifs are particularly tricky because i'm fairly logical. i try to consider all of the possible outcomes, and along with that comes the dreaded worst case scenario. i won't elaborate on my own personal nightmare here, because even the thought of it is enough to make me stop in my tracks, paralyzed with fear, desperate for escape from a plan i've put in motion. of course, in considering the bad, i've learned i must also consider the good; not just of what could come, but what HAS come. looking back over the past year, i have made huge leaps and bounds in my personal emotional health. recalling that information, writing it all down, has helped to clear some of the cobwebs off of my dusty life plans and allowed me to make some new, revelatory conclusions.

for the first time in my life, i don't feel like i'm running away from something. i have been running, emotionally, for a long time, which is almost comical to me because i really dislike physical running. running for its own sake just seems pointless to me, and can even do damage to your body if done improperly. running, emotionally, does a different kind of damage. i've been pounding that pavement for years, in order to get far enough removed from my myriad of problems (distance equals self-control) to clear my head. i haven't been trying to escape, per se... just gain perspective (by the way, this is called denial). in reality, running from something bigger than you (life truths) doesn't make it go away -- it just means that it will eventually catch up with you and tackle you while you're breathless and unprepared.

i hadn't been weighing the potential outcome of willingly taking the hit, that it might make me stronger, not destroy me. so, i took a chance i've never previously taken -- i stopped running and stood still. i let grief and loss catch up with me. instead of the tackle i expected, it was more like high tide; not one, but continuous unrelenting waves. i thought, for a moment, that i'd drown, but instead i learned to float, then swim. when i finally hit the shore, for a few moments, i even wallowed in the shallows. i had grown accustomed to the tossing waves, the gasping for breath. it didn't feel right to stand on my own feet, to breathe unencumbered.

okay, enough of this big distracting metaphor -- flowery prose aside, in the past year, i finally faced a LOT of issues from my past. i really dug into myself and started to examine my intimacy issues and insecurities, about why i behave in certain ways, instead of only making excuses (such as "it's just who i am"). it's easy to focus on negative behaviors when you're self-critical, and difficult to see the good in yourself, especially when start attributing much of your entire being to external stimuli, and when so much of that stimuli is negative. fortunately, i've figured out that, as a result of the trials in my life, i'm a fairly strong person and not entirely dysfunctional -- i have the ability to actually examine myself and improve.

yes, i can see the events of the past through a much clearer lens, but i've also been able to think about the future in a way that is neither full of absolute denial or abject fear. i know that it's coming. i've even planned for it more than a few months in advance. i've made big life decisions and found something that that fits, for me, for now. it doesn't mean i don't still have fears about how my decisions will play out. what it does mean, though, is that i'm more prepared. of course, i'm still a little near-sighted, can't always see things completely clearly when they're very far away, but i can see vague shapes. looking ahead to my life six months in the future, i can see this giant looming in the distance:

it's entirely possible that i need to contemplate all of these major changes, in order to realize how beautiful my life has become. my life's beauty, much like new york's, is in its realism. i am human. i am subject to external forces, both good and bad, some of which i cannot control. however, i can control my reaction. enter, one of my oldest favorite quotes:

""i guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. and maybe we'll never know most of them. but even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. we can still do things. and we can try to feel okay about them."
 [charlie, from 'the perks of being a wallflower' by stephen chbosky]

the beauty of my humanity is something i can carry with me regardless of where i lay my head. it doesn't need a suitcase or bookshelf. it isn't reflected in my number of possessions, whether great or small. it is reflected in the value of the life i choose. it is reflected in the fact that i actually HAVE a choice, instead of just letting life happen to me.

the freight elevator is finally working again. the furniture is still waiting to be removed. it's an encumberance that can't remove itself (though i very much wish it could), but requires a vehicle to move it to its next destination. maybe moving to new york will be the next vehicle my life needs. or maybe not. maybe just the contemplation will be enough.

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