These moments—these ups and downs, pitfalls and leaps of faith— they’re what stories are made of. These are the memories that will last a lifetime, changing, growing, molding, fading, until finally they are whispers upon the wind, dead laughs and cries mingling with the dust. It was like something out of a book rife with life and love and adventure, the sort of thing you could be proud of.
But I was only filled with terror when I first came to my senses. I was only aware of the thrumming of my heart and the pain in my chest that was growing with every still second. I felt ashamed and horrified and proud and confused, all in one barrel of emotion. The wave of it was overwhelming, and trying to escape it seemed impossible.
When enough sense could dictate my muscles to flee, I managed as much with far less grace than I hoped for. Tumbling, tripping, and falling, I created a small comfort-space where the breathing seemed a half-choke easier. Truly, I had no rational reason to be so upset, but something in a location half between my head and my heart said it was the right thing to do.
After a stretch of time that could’ve been hours or miles long, things around me began to move like nothing had ever been amiss. I was stuck in an ice age mindset, observing the flow and purpose of bodies around me. These terror-filled parts are fleeting, but the residue spoke clearly: I wanted out.
From there, I played a wholly unfamiliar game. Everything seemed to have a role: my thoughts, my face, my hands, my eyes, my smiles, my words, and every other bit of everyone else. There were some good times, and a fair share of bad times, but it was time and I couldn’t complain. Sometimes it hurt, the way plans and things fall apart, but hope was always this burrowing monster chewing at my weaknesses. I could always hope it would go right.
But somethings I don’t understand myself. Some actions I don’t know how to justify, some choices seem impossible to have been chosen any other way. And yet the pain still is there, hidden between the lines and the sounds and the gentle movements that can be so hard to read. There’s no running away from something an inch from your face.
And yet when the warmth fades and the night comes harsh and fast, it’s not easy to give up what you once had. Even if it hurt. Even if it didn’t make sense. The acridity of a vice doesn’t make it any less gripping and consuming.
So with tired eyes and thumping hearts, we set upon a journey to either wreck something too fragile to survive on its own, or to nurture it into something real and living and powerful.
But that’s all up to us, and that’s the part that scares me the most.
With the passage of time, I find that forgetting is the easiest part of life. It’s so simple to let go and ease into a false sense of newness and clarity. Reality will dictate time after time that we are never truly free from our pasts and the memories that haunted us never really do stop. Remembering is a natural function of our brains and though it can hurt and it can wound, remembering can be a healing process to remind us that we are who we are because of who we had once been.
In these stages of trying to tack things down and being stuck in the middle of two very distinct decisions, it’s easy to see the pleasure in ignorance and forgetfulness. Casting issues aside is a great way to avoid change, but when you’re facing the same old road and something foggy and shrouded in mystery, sometimes the excitement of adventure can block out the fear instilled in you as a child.
But what is worse: staying on the familiar, slightly more worn path of normalcy, or creating something as you go—forging new ways in light of new evidence? I wish that this decision could always be made by someone else. A hand in the dark moving me one way or another; the denial of an application that forces a different outlook; even the harsh, blatant rejection from the other party.
Simply said, this does not occur in the natural, likely world. Maybe it can be a part of the way you make decisions, but in the end freewill is just that: things you do and decide yourself. Pain is not always avoidable, and change is one of the most frightening, heart-constricting pains we know, but sometimes you can find solace in the freshness of a new start. Some changes are exciting with the small doses of adrenaline jolting through your system, yet I see in front of me not a remake of the old road, but a whole new one branching out, reaching to take my hand.
Am I brave enough to take the reins on my journey, or does this path simply refuse to be assisted by others? Is there a way to know for sure how it’s supposed to feel? Are the butterflies wriggling through my body supposed to feel like a swarm of gnats beating against my bones? I was never one to like the monsters to begin with, but I’d be willing to accept them over the fear-like shakes that tell me decisions aren’t always made to be fun.
Sometimes going with the flow feels more like standing still.
There’s something inescapably definite about anything that puts a smile on your face. Even if you’re ashamed a second later or years later, you can’t deny that little rush that made you instantaneously react with glee. When you’re happy and it just falls onto your lips as if by the flick of a paintbrush, it’s so real. It’s unstoppable and irresistible. Catchy and attractive.
When you find yourself so caught up in your own dizzying cheer, it’s easy to overlook so many other things. Different, previous priorities fall to the side; dwelling in those memories takes over; best of all, a glowing beauty seems to cover the very earth. It’s such a wonderful process of temporary heaven, and it makes any day seem like a success.
But the fallout from this hurts more than you could ever guess. How are you supposed to just wave that off, dismiss it like a small accident? Sorry, I didn’t mean to spill your coffee. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be so happy.
It’s just impossible to explain and cover up and pretend like it was nothing. You just can’t. And when you seem to be doing roller coaster flips with your state of mind, people will notice. Maybe they won’t want to take the long dip beneath the earth, and maybe the screaming heights and breath-stealing loops will be a little too much, but they’ll watch. Trust me on that one.
Maybe you’re not the biggest attraction in town, but it’s hard to blend when some of these huge twists and turns feel too large to be yours. But when it is, and you can own up to it, you’ve hit a mellow point. Casualness. A nonchalant greeting, slightly poor memory, a hesitance to admit too much. That’s okay. It’s better than the pain and the guilt and the remorse you feel towards yourself. Feeling bad for that gushing happiness hurts more than the initial sulking and waiting and figuring out.
How can you calmly give up bliss—whether imaginary or real—for complacency and shallow emotion? If you perhaps thought of a few things to add in here, well, you’re wrong. You could say diligence, determination, discipline, slight masochism— but’s that’s not it. You simply do not, will not, cannot do this with success. It’ll always be there, a small, gentle rolling of memories in the very back of your mind, far enough to be a rare thought, but still there nonetheless.
One friend to keep company, from now to the end, will always be your doubt. Trust this feeling. It’s one of the realest reality checks you own. Doubt will keep you from diving in headlong, keep you from being too foolish, too gullible, and practically save your life. Just let the doubt sink in for a moment and retrace a few steps. Plot the map from there to now. Do things line up? Or are there discrepancies that shout foul play?
These are serious things to consider when slamming into a mouthful of post-glee pavement. Brace yourself. That’s all there really is to it. Nothing more can be prescribed to ease the pains or erase the past. It’s life and life doesn’t stop for you to cry it out and continue along in the background. Life demands you to be the front and center of everything, so bring it on. Show your tough side and bite a few knuckles to keep your focus on what matters. You. Making it out alive.