The last couple weeks have been good. A number of things have changed, so I’m not sure I can credit one thing over another. Most likely, it is a combination of things.
For one, T and I decided it was time to invest in a sun lamp. We turn it on every day, usually in the morning, and sit in front of its glow. It makes our faces so bright I’m pretty sure that people driving by see nothing more than our floating heads bathed in white light. It’s a little odd to sit in front of it sometimes, but it’s actually working. I find myself thinking more clearly. The brain-fog has finally cleared. I don’t feel like there’s a film between me and my emotions. I am much more present. I am much more productive and can stay on task. And I find that I have greater control over my emotions and my reactions. That lamp has been a life saver.
But that’s not the only thing that has changed. A couple of weeks ago in my Violence and Interpersonal Trauma class we watched a documentary on the Bloods and the Crips, the gangs that call downtown LA home. The documentary showed how the gangs came into being, how the culture is perpetuated, and how the greater upper-class culture has failed them on a couple of occasions. The film makers interviewed a number of the members, and they also interviewed the many mothers of boys who had been killed at a young age.
It was a heavy documentary, but I was astounded by these people’s ability to keep going and move on, even if the manner in which they tried to build a life wasn’t the best. It was the best they could manage. I got to thinking about my own life, about the struggles I’ve gone through. I thought about the things in my past that have hurt me that I never had control over. The things in my past weren’t nearly as traumatic as the things these people had to deal with regularly. So why couldn’t I move on?
Later that night, T and I were watching the Daily Show, and Jon Stewart interviewed Justice Sonya Sotomayor, of the Supreme Court. She talked about how she had come from a very difficult childhood, and how she decided one day that she would not let what she grew up in determine who she was going to become. That was very important in her path to become a Supreme Court Justice.
Naturally, this struck me as well. And I thought, how does one do it? How does a person sever that nagging connection that says “But I hurt!”? How do I let go of the misfortune I did not choose, in order to move on and grow?
Last week I began reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The very first habit he talks about is Proactivity, the ability to look at a situation and recognize that that a person has complete control over how he will let that affect him. He makes a very strong point that a person cannot choose or control others, or even sometimes the situation. But the one thing that he can control is himself. So when faced with struggle or misfortune, how am I going to react? How do I want this to affect me? Sure, it hurts, and I can be sensitive to that. But I can choose whether or not it controls me.
This realization reminded me of a quote from the book/movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
“I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song on that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite.”
Even as I write this, I am overwhelmed by the power of that quote. To me, it is power, it is liberation, it is freedom. It grants the ability to find joy in every single moment, regardless of circumstances. When I connect with the idea in that quote, I feel like I am flying.
As God often does, he orchestrates things to coincide. Over the week or two that I was making all these connections, I was also reading a book by Paolo Coelho (love this author) called “Veronika Decides to Die”. It’s about a girl to attempts to kill herself, only to wake up out of the coma in a mental hospital, told that she has a week to live. She spends the week in the mental hospital, freed from the silly social constraints of the real world, and finds that as she allows herself to live authentically and honestly the world becomes a beautiful place, and she doesn’t want to die anymore.
Her process of self-discovery inspires other mental patients, and they have their own beautiful awakenings. Among them is a boy that she falls in love with, who was committed to the hospital because he found his true purpose in life, his personal legend, and it didn’t fit with his family’s expectations. After being rejected by his parents, he attempts to go back and live as they would have him, but he can’t. He’s touched the soul of the world by discovering his true passion, and he can’t go back.
I finished this book last week, and the pure joy this boy felt through his passion was so evident. I could feel it. And I could feel in my soul that my own passion was already here, waiting for me. I’ve been sitting on it for years, knowing subconsciously that it was there, but I’ve been afraid to pursue it. Even when I would discuss it with my therapists, and they could see how just talking about it made my face light up with joy, I didn’t realize how deeply this passion ran. I cannot leave it be, and I cannot trade a life of pursuing my passion and art for some 9-5 job that simply puts food on the table.
So I am done wasting time and energy. I am changing the way I live each day, and I am making this passion, this act of creation, a vital part of my every day. And one day I will look at my bookshelf, and a score of books with my name on them will line the shelf, and I will think back to this moment, when I decided to get up and fight for my dream.
Since making that decision, everything has changed. Once again, it coincided with my other realizations almost to the day. And so the last while has been fantastic. I am living my dream. To put it in the words of Paolo Coelho:
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
And so, even though the skies outside are grey and gloomy, I have my own sunshine, in my lamp, in the infinite possibilities that lay before me, and in the dream that I am going to spend my life chasing over and over again.