Only Tomorrows

Hold me to your chest,

Erode away yesterdays

With the winds of change.

 

Breathe life in my ears,

Exchanged for sighs of distress

That used to burden.

 

On sturdy shoulders

You carry away the pain;

The wisdom survives.

 

In your acceptance

Only our love matters now;

Only tomorrows.

 

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Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

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Road to Enlightenment

I want to be free.
Free from the judgment of others.
Free from society’s ideals and expectations.
But mostly, free from myself.

The above series of brief thoughts is profoundly meaningful in my life’s journey, and I imagine in many others’. The last line, however, is perhaps not only the most consequential of all, but also the most complex and challenging freedom to achieve.

I am harder on myself than anyone else is. This is probably true of most of us. I set high expectations and lofty goals for myself and I think that usually this serves me well in the kind of life I choose to live. Sometimes, this can cause disappointment or self-deprecation.

But beyond my desire for self-acceptance, there is an intricate and almost contradictory truth: there are elements of myself that I don’t particularly like and which don’t serve me and my relationships well – those aspects mainly relate to attitudes, reactions and emotions. In short, I want to continue to learn to love and accept myself as the person I am, but in order to be content with my existence and to feel I am living a progressive, blissful and healthy life, I need to continue to change and grow in the ways that I can. I know that there is a very natural and constructive way to strike this balance, which involves being content in who you are in the moment while seeing the need for change and working steadily towards those changes with patience and focus.

Some of my attributes and tendencies are innate in my personality and some of them are a product of the environment in which I’ve lived my life to this point: both macro and micro. Furthermore, certain of those attributes have developed over the period in my life in which I began to explore more complex, mature relationships with the people around me. It is in those relationships – with family, friends, colleagues, lovers, partners – that we experience the greatest highs and lows and perhaps our deepest disappointments and injuries. For me, this is certainly true.

I’m not quite ready to explore some of those aspects of me here, just yet – to a degree because they are not easy to articulate, but chiefly because this process means laying myself a little barer and holding myself more accountable to the changes I want to see in myself.

So, for now, I’ll simply reiterate my philosophy of responsibility for self. I know that only I can choose to change and grow, and this includes recognizing my opportunities for growth; big and small, easy and difficult. It means listening openly yet discerningly to those who care about me and who are willing to constructively share perspectives as well as to my own internal voice. This discernment involves wisely sifting through information for pure truth, which is sometimes obscured by fear, pain, alternative purpose. Moreover, it requires more objective observation of the world, other people, myself and the interaction between them all. Ultimately, I know that I must take full responsibility for myself – my choices, attitudes, reactions, actions. While “shit happens” and people will hurt me, it’s ultimately up to me how I move forward. If there are two facts I am certain of in all of this, it is these:

1. There is much in life I cannot control.
2. I can control my state of mind and what results from that.

I do see this lifelong journey of freedom, discovery and focused change to be one of spiritual and emotional enlightenment and I have to say, I’m pretty excited because I can already see the benefits that some of these changes will beget.

Good Enough

I supported you,
Trying to fill the holes in your heart.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I cared for you,
Trying to become the woman you needed.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I forgave you,
Trying to believe it wasn’t about me.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I conceded to you,
Sacrificing and believing in more.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I am strong,
Continuing to grow and care for myself.
I am better than I’ve ever been,
I’m good enough and free.

Freedom to Choose

I learned long ago that I cannot control many circumstances in my life, and therefore that I should choose to be happy regardless of the conditions that surround me. The essential lesson was around controlling other people and their choices. This was a difficult lesson to learn.

From the age of about 18 until my 32nd year, I have dedicated myself to people I have chosen to be romantically involved with. Fourteen years have been filled with 3 long relationships, a smattering of shorter but still significant, torrid romances and peppered with a few ephemeral yet passionate experiences in between.

My three longest standing relationships involved people with pretty heavy emotional baggage, and I was convinced I could help them attain happiness and peace in their lives. In the end, I wasn’t able to help them change, and ended up hurt and, in my own insecurity, believing that somehow their unhappiness was related to me. I had a very self-centered perspective of my relationships and the choices of others.

I am forever grateful for those relationships – I have no regret. These relationships I entered trying to act as a counsellor ultimately served to teach me great lessons about myself and the changes I needed to make instead.

Although I am generally an optimist, I am also a chronic thinker. I analyze situations five different ways, slicing and dicing to try to comprehend others’ behaviour or anticipate the outcomes of my own choices. Of course, this type of scrutiny and expectation usually results in disappointment. Combine all of this with the human need to be loved, and we find fourteen-plus years of great blessings and also challenge. To me, the recurring incidence of similar situations or outcomes in one’s life is an evident indicator of a lesson that needs to be learned. The lesson I’m now finding ahead of me is not related to being joyful despite others’ choices, but rather finding joy in each moment without needing to seek my crystal ball.

I have long believed that circumstances or relationships occur for a reason. A few times throughout my life, people have entered and brought with them a great whirlwind of wisdom. A small number of those people have remained in my life long-term, popping in and out at what always appears the right time for one or both of us. Despite sometimes years in between reunions, and with the intensity and abundant trust of a lifelong bond, the relationship will bloom for a short time and one or both of us will walk away renewed and constructively changed.

Recently, I made a new friend who, in the span of only a week, has had a profound impact on me. This person has begun the patient journey of continuing to teach me a lesson I have been learning most of my adult life to date. It relates to that struggle between heart and mind.

I am the only barrier to my happiness. I may put up walls between myself and the great possibility of joy. I might let the fear of tomorrow get between me and today’s elation. Ultimately, if I am self-aware and willing to accept that the only person I can control is myself, then I can choose freedom. Freedom from being obstructed by emotional responses to the choices of others…..freedom from circumstantial joy…and most importantly, freedom from my own fears. This is all easier said than done, but a chosen journey nonetheless, perhaps lifelong.

“Man is free the instant he wishes to be” ~Voltaire

Let Us be Still

Let us be still, now.
No deliberations or constructions.
Even a few brief moments
Without the requisite evaluation.

Let us be quiet, now.
Words convey silent messages,
While actions dutifully communicate
The truth of a moment.

Let us be free, now.
Choosing to relish today:
Enchanted by the present,
Unimpeded by ourselves.