At the beginning, I was terrified. Stressed more than anything, but still terrified. The world around me was closing in, claustrophobic. There was no space, no time, no energy to breathe. “If I can just get through this…” I kept telling myself. I made myself trudge there every day even when I didn’t want to. I had to. I kept counting off the days until I would be free again. I felt like breaking down was as imminent as a heartbeat.
The dams were open. I had just come out of the whirlpool with the new knowledge that what I had been seeking HAD NOT BEEN THERE. I had searched for it, implored that it show up, talked to them, tried to open up, felt at home, lost it, had to remain there. For years & years, the thing that haunted me had been my own deep isolation, & through trying to find that connection I learned it had never been what I’d been looking for. I finally had the experience, but it was worth much less than the price of admission.
I watched as people around me changed. I drew back, quiet, the recluse in the hall. I watched them branch out & make new connections. Their connections made me jealous, sad, outcast at first. “WHY NOT ME?” I cried to the broken windowpanes. But through the months & the journey, I realized I liked solitude & connection, but only if connection was genuine, & if it was authentically valuable to me. I would hate to have friends like she has. What a change from before, when even the most deadbeat of friends would have been welcomed with open arms!
But I connected with things differently. I saw them differently, felt them differently. I felt the visceral satisfaction in the lighting when it was just the right way. In the photographs I saw. In the music that played over crackling speakers on vinyl. In the way it smelled in the car when the sky was just clearing from rain & that song came on the radio & I plugged into beautiful, indescribable things. I still embraced the Alien I had discovered last December, but it stopped being so self-loathing, & I learned to love it & trust it.
I realized I didn’t have to be like anybody else.
& despite my terror that 2017 was going to be bland & meaningless, mixed with my hope that it would be the year things finally began, I started finding my way.
I stopped doubting the way I felt about the inherent things inside me, feelings I’d carried since birth. I stopped putting on their brown-lensed goggles that made the world look dark & muddy & hopeless. My real eyes saw colors other people could not understand, & different things had meaning to me than what they found valuable. I got my sustenance from the images inside & outside of my mind, & from the specific feelings those images evoked. I stopped looking at her life like I was falling behind, like I was the late-bloomer, like there was something wrong with me. Because perhaps I was, had been blooming, but my flowers were much different than hers.
I let the weird, wonderful authenticity of my real self finally show through. I loved the things I loved with childlike abandon. I stopped apologizing so much for the things I should never have apologized for in the first place. I opened up to the things worth letting into my life, & finally said no to the things that stopped serving me, or never had in the first place. I stopped feeling so guilty about doing what I needed to do, especially when I saw people weren’t as disappointed by my lack of participation as I’d always thought they would be. I learned that happiness was my choice alone, & that it was separate from my circumstances.
Most of all, I opened up & let the Universe change me, I let it show me beauty, I let it show me awe, I let it show me pure joy. & I let myself feel those things, finally, deeply, lovingly. The Universe always had my back. It was always sitting there, hidden in the back row but cheering the loudest of all. It was always rooting for me even when I was afraid that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. Just when I thought all the lights had gone out, the Universe always showed up holding candles, slipping a crumpled piece of paper into my hand which contained a clue for what I should do next.
I was never alone in this.
& when I set out on adventures that months before I never could have began to fathom, I found myself. I found myself on the pier at sunset. I found myself in the deep night of the Everglades. I found myself in the ocean swimming with the loose shark. I found myself in the photo of pure joy I saw in my own face as I reached out to touch the animals. I found myself in the perseverance it took to push past my comfort zone & repeatedly triumph. I found myself in drive along the bridge trying to get to where I would sleep, & in the arms of beaches, quiet Atlantic waves lapping my feet at sunset. I found myself in hotel rooms, sleeping in cars, hiking the trails; in the explorations, the tribulations, the challenges, the pain, the fear, the uncertainty, the moments of sacred profoundness. I found myself in a room of people who believed they deserved better, & in the seats of concert halls as familiar music played. I found myself on the airplane, in the music I heard there, in the jazz night in the city, in the gardens, in my own courage of getting myself there, somewhere new, & back home safe. & I found myself on the hill watching the headlights go by on the highway at night, under the full moon while people skipped in time with pure, alive radiance contained in music.
& I finally learned to be happy. Alone on that dark sacred highway at night, as I drove under the warm yellow streetlights illuminating the smooth dark highway, with the jazz playing deep & quiet & ineffable in the background. & the feeling bubbled up inside me, it frightened me because it was so strong & so sudden, the pure vibrating eternal radiance of the sincerest relieved joy. In that moment I learned a new emotion; spontaneous laughter sung out from my lungs in euphoria; I could not help but laugh at how beautiful everything around me was. I found myself on that drive home on the pitch-dark highway as I trusted in the golden radiance & recorded the exact color of moonlight on my arm. The moon shone down around me on the sacred fields & the tiny farmhouse & the sleeping cattle, quiet & smiling & deeply nurturing in the pale blue sacred light.
2017 ended up being the year of OPPORTUNITIES. Where I learned how to see opportunities where I only saw dust before; to have the courage to pursue them when I found them; to open myself up to the vulnerable faith that everything really was going to be okay & let the magic change me.
At the end of 2016, I summarized the year with the phrase,
“I did my best.”
But 2017 was bookended by a much more optimistic phrase:
“I am on my way.”
Because I truly feel like now, I am.
2018, I know you’re going to be amazing. The seeds I have sown in 2017 are going to blossom into things that will nurture me. They will blossom into big beautiful trees & the brightest neon flowers. Now I know how to make, to design, to build, to manifest an amazing year, & now I know who I am & who I’m going to be, I know that all good things are available to me.
& so 2018, I say this deep & from the bottom of my heart:
I trust you.