Finding Beauty Where You Can

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s the night before our move and it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a day. After an early morning conflict with M–, over money, we got called to a friend’s house to help with childcare while they figured out what to do with an ailing parent. From there, we raced to our new home to do a quick inspection, pick up keys and scrounge some extra boxes for the last of our packing.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this scared.

It isn’t so much that I don’t want this to happen but that it evokes those other crappier times I’ve moved and I want this to be different. I keep having to remind myself that I chose this; that I want this; that this is good. How to be with the uncertainty. Because, this early in the game, I can’t really know if my life is changing for the better. I have to trust myself and M– and believe that even if things don’t work out, we will be OK; I will come back from this. And if it works out? What does that look like? It’s knowing that you’re part of the equation, and you have an impact on the result. It’s terrifying.

Being in a partnership, I’m discovering, means learning to collaborate — something that doesn’t come naturally to either M– or me; we both have histories of living in prolonged solitude. I have my way of doing things, and so does she. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the controls and just be flexible. And so, we find ourselves rubbing up against each other’s raw spots the way we tend to, especially with the people closest to us.

It’s tempting to retreat into my turtle shell and wait it all out. The way a person with depression sleeps and sleeps when the darkness descends. At least, that’s what I used to do. I hoped I could sleep away the numb emptiness, but the numbness followed me into my dreams. And what dreams I had (and I must have had some because we all dream) evaporated long before I woke up; I felt like even they had abandoned me.

But I’m not there anymore. I have found a will to live that previously didn’t exist. Or maybe it existed, but I just couldn’t access it. There’s no one moment to point to when the sun finally emerged from behind the clouds, really; just a slow thawing, ice melting all around me until I found myself breathing again. I’m alive! So wonderfully alive! And regardless of what happens in the coming years, all I can do is truly touch this moment, be in it, experience it, even when it’s painful. And it’s painful.

The future isn’t exactly a blank slate; it never is. We acquire certain tendencies, prejudices and preconceptions along the way. We each fall somewhere on the spectrum of wealth and health, sometimes by luck, sometimes by bad luck. We are like manufactured robots, pre-loaded with lifeware, shaped by our parents, our peers, and our circumstances. But what if we have the ability to overcome all of that?

What if we are each Pinocchios in search of our Blue Fairies? We seek her out in the hopes that she will turn us into a real, live boyOr girl. Or person. We think that when we find her, our troubles will dissipate; our sadness will disappear. And when we find her, we discover she’s inside us. She’s been there all along. Because that’s what being human means: The yearning for more – not material stuff – but something sacred, something deeper, more meaningful, that’s already inside us. All of us.

What if we are artists and the hand we’re dealt in life is the palette of colours we have to work with. Imagine: some of us are abstract artists, some of us realists, some of us prefer acrylic, and others use water colours. But what we do with what we’ve got, that’s where the magic happens.

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