I’ve received quite a number of emails over the months and read many responses from people who ask how I stay so positive, happy, and humorous among illness and all the things I’ve lost. It makes me smile to read emails like that because it’s sort of like “Oh, haha, these people think I’m happy and have my shit together.” The truth of the matter, is that happiness is something I work at, every day. I mean that. I’m not a naturally chipper person. Especially in the mornings. Most days I don’t feel incredibly alive until about 7 pm. I don’t have a ton of friends or a blooming social life. I am OK with that as I’ve always been someone who enjoys solitude. But I just don’t want to give the impression of “The grass is always greener” over here. I’ve gone through a lot of heartache and despair. I’ve just made it out on the other side. But I still struggle with optimism and simple joy. Writing here has enabled me to find the lessons that were hiding beneath the tears and sickness and loneliness. So sometimes it appears that I’ve got it all figured out and wake up whistling the tune to “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…” I don’t. I work to find the beauty and meaning of every day of my life. And many times, I fail.
I have been prone to periods of despair throughout my life, especially last year. One day in February, I cried almost the entire day. I kept thinking I would run out of tears, and I never did. As soon as I’d finish blowing my nose and wiping up my face, I’d sit down just to have the tears return and my heart go back to aching. That night, my mom brought in tomato soup to my room and made me eat even though I had no appetite. There I was at 26 years old, being spoon fed by my mom. It was humbling, but also a really beautiful moment to know that even in all of the isolation I felt, someone was still there to feed me, when I didn’t have the strength to feed myself. She talked me through the pain and the tears, many of which were falling in the orange liquid in the bowl and making little ripples like a rock in a pond. I remember how sad and hopeless I felt that night, distinctly. But, I made it through, with the help of my mom. It wouldn’t be the last day where I felt like I was drowning in the sadness of my own story. But each of those moments when I reflect on them now, were revealing something quieter, and not as easy to see. In my anger that I had to move back in with my parents, I missed the fact that I was lucky to have somewhere to go and have someone to take care of me. In the sadness of losing my job, I skimmed over the idea that staying there would’ve made me sicker, possibly to the point of no return. Last year revealed many moments that at times would suffocate me, if I looked only at those moments. But life isn’t isolated that way. In every moment of darkness, something else is revealing itself, if we choose to see the whole of it. A lot of times, I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and take an honest look at the way things were. This was not easy, and it still isn’t easy. It’s work. Like Nepo says “This is the trick to staying well isn’t it; to feel the sun, even in the dark.”
I still struggle today in finding the meaning of my life. But further than that, I struggle with general happiness. I sometimes slip and get stuck in a hole. At times it feels easier just to be depressed or angry. And momentarily I guess it’s OK to feel those things, I just know that the only times I’ve been able to move forward is when I choose to look honestly at my experience and try to see what it has to offer, not what it has taken away. Staying mad, staying sad, saying ‘It’s not fair’ just keeps me in the hole. And who wants to live in a hole? It’s dark down there!
Everyone is fighting their own battle, whether it shows on the outside or not. We often assume everyone else is happy, has an easy life, and could never understand our struggle. I often felt that way last year. But that thought is not only our ego trying to isolate us, it’s false. Peel back the layers of any person, and you’ll see the battles they’re undergoing and the scars they carry. I have mentioned this before, but it is something that has stuck with me for a while. Trust your battle. Trust that the life experience you were given is exactly what you need. The lessons you learn will become the whole worlds lessons. Wayne Dyer says to find the lesson, you have to actively ask each experience “What is this here to teach me?”
So that is what I’m working on; not only to seek the lessons of my experience, but to try and live each day happily and with ease. Again, it’s something I have to work at. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the questions and mysteries of life, that I miss the simple pleasures. I could spend all day wondering and fearing whether the sun will rise tomorrow, and wrapped up in that anxiety, I miss the sunset. I’m going to try and trust my experience and my battle. I’m going to stop wishing for a life that isn’t mine. And I’m going to try whistling that tune “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…” every morning. Because my grandma always whistles that tune, and I’ve yet to meet anyone happier.
Health, Happiness, and Battles.