I have this personal tradition where in I put a title on the year in order for me to keep track of what has happened in my life. That’s the reason why I’ll never forget the year 2012 because in my books, that was “The Year of the Great Depression and the end of the World.” I took such a hit, a low blow that I don’t even want to think about it. Every department of my life was chaotic then. It’s like a super typhoon came in my life and destroyed everything and then left just as quickly as it came. I guess in some way, that year made me more resilient.
2018 has been “The Year of Friendships and of Travel.” That’s what I keep thinking every time I mull it over. And it was true. Last year I belonged to a group of friends and I’ve had the most number of friends that I ever had for as long as I can recall. And for a lone wolf like me, that’s saying a lot.
I’m not really the Miss Congeniality type, on the contrary, I’m always guarded and I really choose my friends carefully. My trust is earned; never given. Sometimes it may even take years just for me to open up to someone. But sometimes there are some people who make me feel so safe that I open up after getting to know them. After my instinct tells me it’s okay to put my guard down, that is. Sometimes I never open up at all. They do all the talking; I do all the listening. I know all of their secrets and their life story but they don’t know anything about me. Only the superficial. And if further down the road you prove to be not trustworthy, I will gladly shut the door and slowly pull away and never look back.
Some may think that’s pretty ruthless but I’ve been burned before by people who pretended to be friends, who pretended that they have my best interest at heart. And I have forgiven them and gave them another chance but after all of that, I have learned that people don’t really change. A leopard doesn’t change its spots. A zebra doesn’t change its stripes.
Now that 2019 is drawing to a close, I’m still wondering what I will be calling this year. This year, that feeling of being adrift without an anchor is the dominant theme I’ve been feeling. I’m being sent to and fro by the waves of time but never really going anywhere, just rocking to and fro in the same spot. It’s like the year passed by over my head and I’m still in one place, never moving, always waiting. Waiting for something that will never happen. I’ve always tried to be optimistic and to be the sunflower that some of my former students said I was. But you can only take so much, really.
I’m not ashamed to say that I’m spiritual and that I go and pray at churches that I take an affinity to. Sometimes I just sit there and revel at the silence. Sometimes I kneel and say “Thank you” over and over again with watery eyes full of gratitude. Sometimes I ask for something and try to believe that it has been given. But sometimes God goes quiet and he doesn’t answer and that’s okay, I try not to take it personally because He’s not a vending-machine God.
But sometimes when He doesn’t answer for a long time, I try to look for inspiration around me. And I heard from a podcast that we are so afraid to feel pain that the moment pain presents itself in front of us, we tend to run away to the other direction. Because we don’t want the hard life; we don’t want to get hurt. But to undergo pain is actually a blessing because it helps you shed your old self and come out with the new. In your pain, which is specifically made just for you, there is wisdom to be learned. Wisdom that you will be needing in the future when you undergo another Dark Night of the Soul, or another Dark Valley, or another Barren Dessert. So instead of running from the pain, you stand your ground and you face it and then you come out on the other side.
Some people think that since I am older that I have it all together. But nothing could be more further from the truth. I am still as clueless as I was when I graduated from college and had to fill out tax forms and government memberships. And I also learned that no one has it all together. No one, and that’s okay. And we’re doing the best we can to try to manoeuvre ourselves around this human existence and experience that we’re all clueless about.
This year, I also felt this never-ending coldness in my body that sometimes even during the summer I would wear a light cardigan. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my body though. My thyroid is functioning properly. My thyroid hormones are within normal range. I think this is some sort of funny metaphor that life tries to throw at me to tell me that my internal embers are growing cold. I have let the fire die down and there’s no one to blame but me. I have wandered too far away from my purpose that I literally get cold easily even if the air conditioner is near room temperature.
During the middle of the year, I have asked myself the proverbial, philosophical, rhetorical question “What am I doing here? What is my purpose?” If you’re shaking your head right now because you think I’m too serious about life and that you don’t think you will reach the point where you will ask yourself the same question, trust me, if you live long enough you will. It will come to find you if you steer too far away from your purpose. Because inside of me there’s a gaping hole that needs to be filled. I’ve travelled to different countries, drove thousands of miles, just to look for something I have no idea about. And then I heard that in order for you to know your purpose, you have to look back at your life and look for a pattern. Try to recall those times in your life where you felt alive, where you felt that little bit of grace upon you where you knew you were living life as it should be lived.
I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to be a writer but I kept putting it at the back of my mind because there is that fear that I’ll never be good enough. What if I’ll never get published? What if the inspiration to write goes on another hiatus? What then? There is always that fear of failure. But after walking through the Dark Night along the Dark Valley, I have come to accept that I have to try doing it because whenever I write, I can feel the coldness slowly disappear. I have to reprogram my mind that I shouldn’t try to be perfect but that striving for it is enough. I wanted to be perfect that it broke my spirit because I was always pressuring myself to be in a state of perfection that doesn’t exist.
I am slowly letting the tension on my shoulders lose. That I don’t have to be tense and on guard all the time. Although I find it hard because that’s how I protected myself in the past. I was always on survival mode but I’m way past that now. I am now in the season of reaping. I am now in the season of my life where I can finally try to let go of the things and the people that are not meant for me. And everything’s going to be okay.