When I left this piece back in February of 2010 (which you can conveniently find here), I was a very angry little monkey. Somehow envisioning myself as such brings humor to an otherwise bleak situation - really, how can you take an angry little monkey seriously? Standing there hooting and hollering, making angry little monkey faces, wrecking the place with its angry little monkey hands? It’s hilarious - albeit messy. Anyway…
In February of 2010 I was single, severely underemployed, virtually friendless, living in a sublet with a girl who seemed to actively hate me, and generally unhappy with the state of all aspects of my existence. I felt cosmically wronged, cursed, doomed to years of disappointment in a life over which I had no agency. So…basically I was a whiny martyr. Woe is me, enduring the trials and tribulations set upon me as Job to his adolescent God in hopes of earning, what? Pity? Validation of my suffering as patently unfair? Clearly not love because nothing about self-victimization is attractive, and no healthy relationship can come of loving someone who hates herself. Ah, silly little monkey…
Life does not get easier as we age. Instead, we can pretty much count on things getting increasingly complicated the further into it we traverse. Back in High School, every relationship seemed like the be-all, end-all, every test the determinant of our entire future success. I remember thinking “it’s gotta get easier after this!” But it didn’t, and it doesn’t. College came with higher stakes, law school higher still, and the working world, well, them’s some real consequences. Forget whether that boy will think you’re pretty; what that boy thinks won’t matter a bit when you’re angsting over whether you’ll have money left for food once your rent check clears…if it clears… And looking up from that low, dark place to see countless people dancing upon the summit of Maslow’s Hierarchy may well be enough to justify that anger which so possessed me in February 2010. But thankfully, I’ve learned a few things since then.
It is a beautiful thing to be independent, to need nothing from anyone, to be wholly self-sustaining. I craved independence from the moment I first experienced the capacity for dependence to cause pain. I was a hardened loner before I finished kindergarten. Just look at that face and tell me I’m wrong…
There she is, the little girl who vowed to do everything herself, never asking for help, never needing anything from anyone. She was edgy and tough and adorable but in retrospect, not the brightest. Ironic given that she was, in fact, the brightest - at least academically - as compared with 99% of the population. Lucky for me, I saw to remedying that with years of training too hard, partying too much, and sleeping too little and am now considerably dumber.
Anyway, the point of all this is that in looking back at where I was in February 2010, I appreciate just how far I’ve come, despite still sharing many circumstantial similarities in common with my slightly younger self. Maybe you can’t change your job, or your living situation, or your relationship status, as quickly as you’d like; but you can change your mind in an instant. Even when the circumstances of your life defy your control, the choice of how to view them is always firmly in your grasp. A while ago, not sure when exactly but some time within the last year or so, I decided to choose happiness, and that choice made all the difference. It led to countless other small choices, and those to other small choices, each time placing my outlook in my hands. I haven’t always gotten it right, and there are times when I do catch myself wallowing in the old feelings of general downtroddenness and powerlessness, but each time I seem to pick myself up just a little bit faster. And when I find that I can’t, I employ one of the other things I learned since that original post in February 2010 - there is no shame in asking for help! With enough trust in the universe and enough love for yourself, you will find that there are always people around who are happy to lend a hand to lift you up from that low, dark place. Being independent is still something I strive for and value highly (probably more highly than I should) and it still feels unnatural each time I divulge a weakness or need, but the end result is always far better than had I remained silent.
So no more ‘woe is me;’ no more ‘I’m fine on my own.’ Life is a far better place when you’re happy - regardless of the circumstances - and better yet when you surround yourself with people who you trust, enough to be vulnerable, enough to ask for help, enough to embrace it when offered. That is how you find love, and banish pity forever.
Looking out on Cat Hill from Central Park Boat House at dawn
In the middle of the day in the middle of the month I found myself with a bit of time to think - or read, as it were. So read, I did. I read the words of one not much younger than myself, bearing a striking physical resemblance to myself, and yet not myself at all.
A bit over 3 short years ago I began this little exercise in self-aggrandizement, the sharing of one’s thoughts and beliefs with an anonymous world as though they carry some peculiar significance lacking from the previous discourse: blogging. Well, while those views have done nothing to shed light on life at large, they have illuminated something very small and ineffably precious. They have shone a spotlight on a little girl and the angry woman in whose heart she lived. And reading them now, I had to stop what I was doing, reach in there and give her a big hug.
For nearly as many years as she had lived there, she had been scorned and shamed by her keeper and hidden from the eyes of the world. Not out of cruelty but out of fear - fear that should her fragility be exposed, her vulnerability known, she might render her keeper weak. But she was just a little girl, and she did nothing wrong, and she deserved to be loved, not shunned.
I hugged her again and with her in my now-stronger arms, embraced the knowledge that our scars do not make us weak; they make us human - flawed and beautiful and wiser for the experiences - however painful - we’ve had. The little girl inside me had a rough go of it and all those years of wishing her away and denying her existence only kept the wounds from healing. For just as physical wounds heal best when allowed to breathe, so too do emotional ones need air. We heal not by hiding but by opening ourselves up, with the full protection of our own unconditional love. And anyone who can’t embrace us scars and all isn’t someone for whose affection we should fight.
I’m not there yet, and I’ll keep going back and hugging that little girl until the wounds have fully scarred over, but I am healing. If this is the sort of growth that comes with growing older, I look forward to the years ahead.
Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with an old friend. We hugged and laughed and talked about what had happened in our lives since last we spoke many moons ago. As I tried to explain the vague unsettledness I still bear from recently going through a bad breakup, I realized I lacked the right words to capture the sentiment. But he didn’t—
"Echoes," he said.
“Echoes,” I repeated, nodding in affirmation. “Exactly.”
People come into our lives and change us - touch us, love us, hurt us in ways we never could’ve predicted (or maybe we could’ve, but the divide between heart and head guides many a decision). And even after those people are gone, echoes of them remain. Echoes of the feelings they engendered, the experiences they brought, the hopes and dreams they inspired. Echoes can resonate loudly enough to shake a soul to its core or whisper gently, raising momentary goosebumps like a passing breeze. Echoes can call out to us from anywhere, anything, anyone - hearing a familiar song, being in a once-shared place, seeing a reminiscent object. But echoes, as my friend pointed out, ultimately fade.
An echo doesn’t exist as an entity all it’s own - no, an echo is merely a dependent reflection, a response triggered wholly by another event. And the more distance between yourself and the event, the softer the echo. When you’re close, an echo can mimic its creator almost indistinguishably; when you’re far, you may hear so little as to be uncertain if you’re hearing anything at all. An echo is a shadow, a reverberation, a hollow, disembodied likeness of something that once was.
When an echo washes over you, listen to it - feel it move you, warm you, bring you to joy or anger or tears - but let it go. Remember that though the echo still exists, the person who created it is gone (probably for the better!) and what you’re grasping at is only shadow. And as surely as a child calling “hello!” into a cave will eventually hear nothing once her cries cease, so too will the echoes of relationships fade, slowly dissipating over space and time until all you hear are the sounds of your own happy memories.
seriously; the worst
I told you he was trouble!! First he screws up the photocopying and now this. WORST INTERN EVER.
it’s pretty much the worst intern ever.
Those pages are numbered 1, 6, 2, 17, 4, zebra
Small hope is there for perspicacity when dusk and dawn are nightly met by ever-open eyes. All consciousness as through a weary haze turns dream-like daily sights; resemblances of places unknown, unreal.
With a smile I rise to greet the streets of Manhattan—thinly veiled by a mist of my mind’s creation, each day reveals in them some new beauty, some strange calamity, always something. And though I miss my sleeping dreams, I cannot help but welcome the waking wonders made visible in their absence.
However, rationality, it seems, thrives on a well-rested mind; a focused mind. In tiredness rational thoughts falter, rational speech stumbles, and ultimately all utility gives way to incoherency. Ah, how heavy a burden is rationality—so evident in compromised alacrity.
But then again, watching potholes blur into bold artistic patterns made manifest only through eyes too tired to focus does add a certain bit of whimsy that I rather enjoy.