Mistakes mean that you are trying. Mistakes mean that you are living again
Will you make mistakes? Of course. Some of the biggest breakthroughs I have ever had came from a mistake. Learn from them. Don't be afraid of them.
Mistakes mean that you are trying. Mistakes mean that you are living again
Each and every one of us who find ourselves in need of recalculating and adjusting to a new way of living, will one day break out of our protective cocoon and just as the butterfly – we will not only be changed, we will also be free
I was wandering through a quaint little store the other day when I chanced upon a beautiful dragonfly wall hanging, that quite literally, stopped me in my tracks. Instantly I thought of my mom and her almost childlike love of the dragonfly. I was transported back to a dust covered memory - of her sitting on the front porch giggling as what appeared to be a drunk dragonfly flew around haphazardly. With so many bad memories I cling to the good ones when they come. I felt my eyes tearing up while I stood there mesmerized by the wall hanging. Sometimes the loss of her feels like a gut punch when I least expect it. There had been so much bad but sometimes - there had been good too.
I chastised myself, as I walked out of the store, about allowing my emotions to get the better of me. It has been almost two years since she died, actually, the anniversary is fast approaching, and I should have found some closure by now. Well, at least that is what people tell me - that I need closure. I need to move on. Ok, fine - to be honest, I tell myself this all the time too. Everyone always needs the ever elusive closure. People are looking for it at the end of failed relationships, after death, after loss, and well, after anything really that comes to an end.
Honestly, I can't stand the word. The definition of closure is: the act or process of closing something. Closing something like a door or a road and not some huge part of one's life that is suddenly empty, hollow and shattered. You find closure when you leave a job and start a new one. You find closure when you pay off bills.
It was running into a road closure that got me thinking about life and finding the elusive closure.
Picture this; you are driving your normal route to work, you go to make the same right hand turn that you have made every day for ten years, and you are greeted by a ginormous sign that reads "Closed." You wail. You get angry. It throws a wrench into your entire morning. Then, you accept it as fact, recalculate your route, and you continue on. Know what? Same basic premises applies in life too.
There are so many circumstances in life when you will never find closure. How could you really? Closure means that you are no longer affected by something. Closure means you have forgotten the pain, the heartache and have healed completely. Maybe some people can. Maybe some people can cauterize a broken heart, can cement in a hole in their life left by someone they loved. Maybe they can - doesn't mean that you have too.
After finding that detour and having to figure out a new way to get to work - it dawned on me. You don't suffer a big loss, an ended relationship or death of a loved one and POOF! One day find that you are over it. You just don't. It doesn't work that way. Regardless of what people tell you need to do or how you just need to find some closure and move on.
Forget finding closure. Instead, focus on recalculating.
Recalculating. When a sudden loss occurs - so does a shift in your reality. Whether you wanted it or not - your world changed the second it happened. Be it the moment your divorce was final, the last breath of a loved one or whatever the life event, when it happened - your reality changed. You must give yourself time to grieve. You must allow the tears to flow, the anger to rise and the full gamut of emotions to run their course. You will feel totally out-of-control and helpless. You will feel lost and insecure. You will want the pain to end, the sadness to depart and you will want to feel the joy of life again. But, because closure is so incomprehensible, you stall out. Stop thinking about closure. You may never be ready to let go of some of the sadness, you may never fill the empty hole someone left behind. You don't have to. Recalculate your life to acclimate to your new reality and go from there. This is now your starting point. Your go forward point. Make the needed adjustments and give yourself permission to move on. By acclimating to your new reality, by embracing your loss and making some form of peace with it, you allow yourself the first steps of moving on.
As I write this I find that I am visualizing a caterpillar.
The caterpillar is who I was before losing my mom. Actually, in the past few years I have lost a lot and my reality has sifted, re-shifted and shifted again every time. I realize that I have pulled myself, like the caterpillar, into a cocoon of sorts. A protective shield. I know now that after a period of time - I, like the caterpillar, will decide when I am ready to break free. However, it won't be because I have embraced closure. It will be because I allowed myself time to acclimate to my new reality. That while I may still feel sadness, I will feel the pull of life even more.
Each and every one of us who find ourselves in need of recalculating and adjusting to a new way of living, will one day break out of our protective cocoon and just as the butterfly – we will not only be changed, we will also be free.
When old age sets in and I am nearing the end of my time on this earth, I know I will have regrets. I am human. But, I will also know that I tried as best I could to lead an honest life. To touch the lives of both stranger and friend. That those I loved - knew it with all their heart and those I had lost along the way would always
know that I had a special place in my heart reserved just for them.
I had loved. I had lost. But in the end - I won't regret one single second of it.
We are told to never miss opportunity. To never miss a chance, a possibility or leap of faith. That we must live our lives to the fullest so that when we reach the end we have no regrets. We must live and love. We must reach out and touch others. We must go on adventures and try things that scare us. We must open new doors when one closes and reach for the moon - so that if we miss we shall land among the stars. We must do good whenever the need is there and never miss the chance do to more. The fear of not getting to everything we want, not seeing-doing-feeling every single possible thing life has in store for us, the fuel to keep us going. When our time comes to leave this world - we must do it free of regret.
I know that I have done a lot of things right in life. I also know that I have done a lot of things wrong. I have missed opportunities. I have missed chances. I already have regrets. Some I can do something about and others - I can't. I regret not going to college right out of high school. I regret not being able to help everyone I have wanted to. I regret not trying harder in certain situations. I regret not letting go sooner in others. I regret not following my instincts at some very key points in life. However, one thing I regret the most is all the times my words failed. Words spoken for sure, but more so, those I let die upon my tongue.
I regret words left unspoken.
As a writer you would think I would have always held a solid grasp of the power of my words and honestly, I do, but yet when I look back over the course of my life - I see many times when my words failed. Sure, words spoken in anger are always what come to mind first and foremost. Words, which the second they leave your mouth, you regret. I may have a few of these moments. Or words you spoke that were not completely the truth but were what you thought you needed to say at the time. Like the time I told my grandmother how amazing her green bean casserole was - it wasn't. However, she cooked it a bunch of times after that first time because she thought I loved it. In hindsight, I should have been more honest. Nicely of course, but truthful nonetheless.
Words hold so much power.
The power to leave your mind through your mouth and enter the ears of someone who so desperately needs to hear them. The power to right a wrong. The power to heal. The power of all that is you- within them as they touch the heart of another. It is these words that I regret not uttering sometimes. When instead of telling someone I cared about how much I loved them, how much I needed them, I let the words wither and die on my tongue. The times when I should have said the words they needed to hear and put my own fear aside. Times when the power of my word was the only thing I had to offer and yet, never did. I regret the moments when I have allowed my words to stay trapped, repeating them to myself only, over-and-over again, instead of standing on the closest soapbox and making a sweeping declaration for all to hear.
I regret those times when my words were needed to stand up for something I believed in but I didn't believe in myself enough to say them. Those times when instead of using courage to bolster my words, I let fear quell them. Times when I let people walk away without ever knowing how I felt or when I walked away leaving my words trapped in my throat. All the things I should have said but never did. All the times I should have fought harder or spoke with my heart but didn't. I regret those.
What I don't regret is learning to see the beauty of always speaking my heart. I don't regret telling my friends how much I love them or my younger sister how proud I am of her. I don't regret learning to say things that need saying without fear of being vulnerable. I may regret all the times in the past but I will not have the same regrets in the future.
Life is simply too short. Stop holding on to words that need to be spoken. Stop allowing yourself to let them stay trapped in your mind. If you have the chance - take it. Be honest with those you care about. Good or bad. Speak the words of your soul. Those words are the spark of your very existence. Speak them now or forever hold your peace. Though in my experience - that peace is elusive and the regret of not opening your mouth - holds strong.
When old age sets in and I am nearing the end of my time on this earth, I know I will have regrets. I am human. But, I will also know that I tried as best I could to lead an honest life. To touch the lives of both stranger and friend. That those I loved - knew it with all their heart and those I had lost along the way would always know that I had a special place in my heart reserved just for them. I had loved. I had lost. But in the end - I won't regret one single second of it.
That is the one regret I shall never have - living this amazing life.
Does someone need to hear your words?
After one fights the tide and sees themselves through the storm, they will notice that even the ocean plummets and crashes - but it always leaps back up again, retreats in on itself, gathers its strength and tries again.
As I make my way down the narrow path that leads to the sea, walking gingerly in my bare feet, I can taste the saltiness of the air on my tongue. Tall dune grass whips in the breeze against my legs and I feel my heart start to race as my ears pick up the roar of the ocean. Fragile fragments of washed up shells litter the ground and I feel them break apart under my feet. Coming to the end of the path and the beginning of the beach, I stop and close my eyes against the bright sun. Tipping my head back so that I can feel the warmth on my face. Breathing in deeply, filling my lungs with the air of the sea. Only when I feel my shoulders start to loosen, do I open my eyes and take in the cove. Sea gulls shriek as they fly by, swooping down to kiss the ocean and then blazing upwards over rocky cliffs that form the sides of the sheltered cove. I envy the gulls their freedom. My shoes fall from my fingertips to the sand as my feet guide me into the waiting ocean.
Tide is coming in.
Off in the distance, storm clouds gather; dark, fierce and menacing in their approach. The increasing power of the tide, a clear indication of what is to come. Though the sun warms my face now, it is clear that it will be short lived. I am fine with that. I have weathered worse storms. Walking further into the ocean I stop when it reaches my knees; my skin prickles at the sudden plunge into the cold water. My feet sink down in the sandy bottom as the ocean comes forward and pulls away from me. Each wave that flows around my legs seems to have a bit more power than the one before. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the waves grow bigger and bigger, until they reach the cuff of my shorts. Still I stand, simply allowing the power of the ocean to surround me. A shift in the breeze whips my hair off my head and suddenly the metallic smell of the approaching storm mixes with the briny smell of the ocean and the waves grow even more powerful. I square my shoulders and walk further into the sea until the waves reach my waist. The force of the ocean keeps trying to push me back towards the shore.
This isn't the first time I went against something powerful that tried to force what direction I went in. Wasn't the first time I didn't go with the flow and take the easy route to shore either. In fact, most of my life has been spent swimming against the tide, facing storms, and refusing to change who I was in order to have an easier life. Sure, it would be easier to let the power of the tide dictate what direction I must go. But I wouldn't be who I am if I allowed it. It may batter me. It may knock me down to murky depths. I may float for a while to gather strength. I may just swim parallel along the shore line until I figure out what I want to do. The salt may hurl insults into my wounds causing them to sting and my eyes may burn with tears. But, I will still refuse to back down. Today, I almost dare the ocean to try and force me to shore. Walking further out until I feel that spark of life in my soul ignite. The ocean and life interwoven in my mind - both often leave you battered and breathless. Hopeless and cast away. But never doubt for a minute that while you can't control either the ocean or life, you can choose the direction that you will go.
So, I go against the tide.
Hurts like hell sometimes and can be so lonely too. But as I grew older I realized something - it had made me stronger and had taught me that being my own person, regardless of what others may think of me, is in fact, while hard at times, the most amazing accomplishment one can make.
It made me free.
When you stand strong in the face of adversity, when you face life head on and instead of hiding from it you confront it, you have no other choice but to become stronger. More sure of yourself in a world that is doing it’s very best to make you follow along instead of doing your own thing. A world that is filled with people who will belittle you, mock you and shame you, for no other reason than because you are you. You will question yourself and begin to feel the world, like the power of the tide coming in, is simply trying to force you to conform and change against your will or drown you.
There will be days when allowing power of the tide to push you in the direction it wants you to go would simply just be easier. Why fight it? Why not just give in and let it all go? Why not just take the easy way? You tell yourself that you are too tired to go on, too broken, and too lost. The whole world seems to be against you and there is nowhere left to turn. Everything seems so hopeless that you just want to give up, your very being crying out to just-let-go. There is a moment, when you are at your very lowest, that you must make a crucial decision - do you harness the power of the tide or do you let it carry you away?
Standing there in the ocean in the face of the coming storm- I realize something. That with every wave I went through, every time I was knocked down and forced to swim back up to the surface with all my might and gasping for air, every time my eyes began to burn and my legs turned to jelly - I had made it because I fought the tide. The tide of loss, the tide of sadness, the tide of anger and the tide of hopelessness. It made me stronger than I ever thought possible and made me appreciate all the good so much more.
I learned a valuable lesson from the ocean...
There is an ebb and flow to life that is closer to the waves of the ocean than anything else. There are beautiful moments. Moments when the sun warms our face and the cry of the gulls warm our heart. Moments when all is right with the world. Then there will be moments of stormy and violent weather that threaten to destroy the very fabric of our hearts and minds. But after one fights the tide and sees themselves through the storm, they will notice that even the ocean plummets and crashes - but it always leaps back up again, retreats in on itself, gathers its strength and tries again. Over and over without fail.
All is not lost. Indeed, more is to gain when you learn to go inside of yourself to gather the strength you need to leap back up. It was there the whole time, you just needed the gentle reminder from the sea to remember.
©J.V.Manning 2016 All Rights Reserved
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