Posts Tagged ‘beginnings’

‎It’s been so long that I almost forget how this used to go. I vaguely remember a time when it was part of me, something I didn’t really have to think about, kind of like breathing or crying or laughing. And perhaps just like those other things, I stopped paying attention to it and so it was soon forgotten.

‎And then today, out of nowhere, a comment from someone who used to read the words saying they were missed. A person on the other side of the world who stumbled across my words in the same random way that these things often happen, who wondered where the words had gone.

It was only then that I realized I was wondering the same thing.

In the beginning the words were so heavy, they mattered so much, that I feared putting them out into the world. I told myself over and over and over that they were just words, that they didn’t, in fact, matter at all and slowly I started to listen. The words found a home, they found a voice and a sound and a rhythmn.

And then they stopped being heavy, and instead became so light that they floated, unable to be pinned down. They went from mattering so much that I couldn’t write them to mattering so little that they weren’t worth the effort.

So I forgot.

I forgot how good it felt to pull them out, one by one, and see what happens when I get them just right. I forgot the weight that lifts from my chest and my heart and my soul when they release from inside me and become part of the world. I forgot that finding the words and turning them into something is a part of me.

I forgot all of that until someone I have never met, someone who I will probably never meet, said they missed them.

And then I realized I miss them too.

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‎We are taught to reach for the stars, to dream big, the world is our oyster, anything is possible. I want to believe it, I really do, but sometimes it just feels like too much pressure.

Find where you belong, follow your joy, search for happiness. I want to, believe me, except I don’t even know where to start.

Instead I’m thinking that maybe, for me, I need to start dreaming smaller. I need to break all of the big things down into little bits, easily digestible and perhaps, more easily achieved.

These days I feel like I need a win. It doesn’t have to be a big win, nothing life-changing or earth-shattering. But it needs to be something. I need something to start it all off, something to show me which is the right direction, something that months from now when I’m well on my way I can turn back to and point and say, “there, that moment, that decision, that success, that’s what started it all.”

I need a beginning.

I have tried, believe me. I feel like the last few months have been a lot of trying and very, very little succeeding. And I’m not going to lie, it’s been disheartening. Some days I feel like I’m standing in a long hallway filled with nothing but locked doors. Right now I need one to be open, even just a crack, so I can see a different way.

I’ve been trying to dream big, to imagine what I would want if I could have anything at all that I could wish for. I thought that if I could see what I wanted the end to look like, it would be easier to figure out the steps to get there. It doesn’t seem to have worked out that way.

So now I think I’ll start dreaming smaller in the hopes that my little dreams will prove more achievable. At this point I just need to feel some tangible form of success, something I can hold in my hands and point to and use to fortify myself to take the next step.

Maybe if I don’t have to reach so far, I won’t keep coming up short.

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With one day remaining in the year, I can safely say that 2013 has not turned out the way I expected it to.  I can look back to this time last year and almost taste the anticipation I was feeling.  It was going to be a great year, filled with many wonderful things.  I expected it to be that way.

I was wrong.

Less than two weeks into the new year I knew it would not be all that I thought it would be.  It would, in fact, be barely a shadow of what I thought it would be.  I wanted to crawl into a hole and come out when the calendar no longer said 2013 but, of course, that was not a realistic way to spend 11 and a half months.

If only it were.

So I trudged along.  I made it through the rest of January, barely, and wished away February and most of March.  With the warmer weather came a small sense of relief and summer brought with it some smiles and laughter and a pat on the back that I’d made it half-way.

But my constant companion was a sense of injustice; a feeling that this was not how it was supposed to be, not any of it.  What happened to my expectations?  What happened to my year as I had imagined it to be?  What happened?

And even in my own head I sounded like a spoiled child.  Who am I to decide what is “supposed” to happen and what is not?  In the general scheme of terrible things that happen, if this thing knocked me down for a whole year, how would I ever handle something truly terrible?  On the slippery step ladder of horrible things, I was fairly close to the bottom and yet I had still managed to fall off and stay down for longer than was probably warranted.

But I couldn’t shake it.  I couldn’t shake the sense that I was on a completely different path than where I should have been.  As I checked off the days and the months crawled by I just wanted to make it through the year, as though it was the actual number 2013 staring back at me that was keeping me from moving on in any meaningful way.

I have spent almost an entire year feeling like a mistake was made; like my original year had been so nicely written out, only to be erased like words on a piece of paper, still faint enough to read if you look closely.  And instead of writing something new on top, I have spent months staring at the paper, squinting my eyes to try and gain a glimpse of what was there before.

And now, finally, I have reached a point where I’m tired of looking at something that isn’t there, tired of squinting and imagining and creating something from nothing.  It has taken me a whole year to get here.  A whole year to realize that the things that happen to us are bad enough without adding them the weight of unfulfilled expectations.

How often do we expect things and are then disappointed when they don’t happen?  I expected this year to turn out differently.  I expected him to respond differently.  I expected to feel differently.  What if I stopped expecting things and just dealt with them as they came?  What if I just felt the emotions as they came, without first having to debate whether they are what I expected them to be?  How much of a relief would it be to just take away that step entirely? What would that year look like in comparison to this?  If I stop measuring everything against what I expected, will I also then stop coming up short?

There is a sweet little movie called The Odd Life of Timothy Green that came out last year.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to check it out, I would recommend that you do. In the movie there is one particular line that has stuck with me, and which now resonates even more than before.  On Timothy’s first day of school, his parents drop him off and after saying goodbye, his dad yells for him to “have a great day” and his mom says “that’s too much pressure!”  His dad then corrects himself and yells to Timothy to “have the day you have.”

Have the day you have.

How simple it seems when you put it that way.

How complicated I seem to have made things, and how I now crave the blissful simplicity of living a life free from unmet expectations.

So, as I sit on the cusp of a fresh start, both according to the calendar on the wall and also a feeling deep inside, I will not wish you a great new year.  Rather I will encourage you to have the year you have.

And I am excited to try to do the same.

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Inspired by Ramble Ramble who, in turn, was inspired by Shalini, I’ve decided to share a piece of my own “how we met” story.  It’s something I wrote a little while ago but I didn’t know what to do with it.  Now, it just seemed to fit.  If you have a minute, definitely check out the two posts that inspired me to share this (and all of the comments – there are really some great stories in there!)

A little background: we met when we lived across the hall from each other in our first year of university; started off as acquaintances, then friends, then something more.

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I learned that doors each have a distinct sound.  Some squeak, some rub, some bang. His door made a small groaning sound before the large metal lock would click into place. I used to be able to pick the sound of his door out from any other door in the hallway. Kind of funny because all of the doors looked exactly the same and, in theory, should have all sounded the same.  No matter though, I knew which one was his.

In the beginning, when we were just friends, the sound of his door closing would make me smile.  It meant that he was back from class, or the gym, and it meant I could go over and knock.  He would open the door with that smile, and I would smile back.  He would offer me some peach iced tea and a passion flakie.  I would sit cross-legged on his bed and we would talk about our days.

Later, when I decided I wanted more than friendship, I strained to hear the sound of the door.  I sat at the desk in my room, pretending to study, reading the same paragraph over and over, just waiting to hear it.  And then I would.  Then the internal debate would be how to play it cool, how to not go running over there right away, like some pathetic school girl with a crush.  But crushing I was, and it just continued to grow.  I had no idea if he felt the same, so I crushed in silence.

The night before I was leaving to fly home for Christmas Break, I remember sitting on the counter in my room, a small bit of countertop right beside the sink, just enough room to curl up on.  I’m not quite sure how I ended up there but it seemed like the right place to be.  I was crying.  I was so excited to be going home after four  months of being away from my family but I was also scared.  Scared to go back to being at home, without all of the freedom I had grown to love.  Scared to go back to all the drama of high school friends, and old high school loves, both of which I had already started to outgrow during my short time away.

Then I heard his door close.  I had it timed down to the second.  I knew that after hearing the door slam, it would only be eight seconds before he reached my door.  His room was just across the corridor and three doors down.  Then he knocked.  My roommate had finished her exams and was already on her way home; same with my other two closest friends who lived next door.  We joked that it was kind of funny that the person from the farthest away (me) was the last one to get to go home.

I yelled for him to come in.  As soon as he saw me he knew something was wrong.  He came over and stood in front of me.  I turned toward him and he opened his arms to me.  All the guys I had known before him would have been afraid of my tears; would have sat across the room from me, not wanting to deal with my emotions.  He just opened his arms and held me.  I got lost in him; it felt so right.  For once I wasn’t afraid to show who I was and what I was feeling; I didn’t try to hide myself from him.

We spent the evening talking and laughing and when it got really late, he went back across the hall and I heard the door close.  I curled up and went to sleep.  The next day I said goodbye to him as he left to drive home for the break.  We hugged, mostly friendly, nothing more.  He turned and took two steps away; and then turned back.  He took the two steps back toward me, stopped and kissed me on the cheek.

Our friendship ended right then and there.

Now, 15 years later, I can still close my eyes and hear the sound his door made when it closed.

And my heart still beats a little faster.

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