April 28th, 2016 at 11:00 pm, I’m sitting in a white-walled bedroom, on a quiet mountain despite the nearly-constant barking of a neighbor dog, in a bed that is mine, but on a mattress that is not. And I couldn’t tell you how, in four months, I got to where I am at now.
For me, 2016’s first quarter has been one for the books; a ride that has thrown me for so many loops that I can’t predict what the next month could even look like. I feel as though it’s probably been like this for most people, and I don’t think many of us are happy about how it has turned out.
However, these four months have taught me more than in the past four years. I’ve reached a place of mindfulness where I have really been absorbing the depths of the events that happen in my life. When you can open yourself up to this level, life becomes a lot more interesting.
Of the lessons I’ve learned, the biggest by far is to not fight the loss of your comfort zone. Life is not meant to be lived comfortably, and when the life you’ve built so nicely around you is stripped from you and fallen away, you cannot fight to save the pieces you so dearly think you need. People will leave you, opportunities will pass you up, and so often in life will you feel like something is missing.
Notice these changes, these feelings, and adapt. Life is nothing more than a wave, and you are nothing but a grain of sand along for the ride. Embrace change.
The hardest change for me to embrace, and the biggest change of my four months so far, was losing many people in my life. When you think you’ve found your rocks, the people to keep you grounded throughout your trials in life, and the people you wish to be there for forever leave you, there is nothing to feel but confusion and pain. It cannot be what you let contain your mind, though. Acceptance is the only route. Even when others in your life show their true selves – types of people you never thought would be hiding under the masks they wore in the world you built inside your head – you must accept it.
With this acceptance, you must rebuild from the ground up. You are your happiness, you are your love. You are your source for all positivism, and you are the root of all good energy in your life. You must always love yourself first, but you must always love others as well.
It is crucial to understand that when you lose people, or you see the difference in them, they are not bad people. They are not wrong because they initiated the cut-off, or because they showed traits in them that you never expected. They are not bad people for feeling or acting different than you want them to. They are simply growing into their own person, and you are too. You are not meant to grow along with everyone in your life. Trees do not grow up in one tall stalk, they grow out in branches that reach out in every different direction. We are all part of the same tree at the root of it.
For the people that I’ve lost in these four months, I’ve grown a new and different kind of respect. Admiring from afar has allowed me to send out the best vibes I can for their happiness and well-being. Everyone I’ve ever had in my life is on the track to such great things, and being able to cheer them on from the sidelines like any other fan would. You must love everyone, and yourself too. Because everybody is right, and everybody is wrong. There’s just no time for resentment and bitterness, life is too short.
“Life is too short.” That’s just yet another lesson learned in these four months. It’s astonishing and terrifying and heartbreaking the number of lives that I’ve seen go. The number of celebrity deaths have struck the world hard, but even losing personal people in my life has shown me that there’s no time like the present.
On Valentine’s Day, I received the news that my mother’s best friend had passed in her home, most likely from untreated pneumonia. I watched my mother’s life change, and I watched this woman’s daughters endure the effects of losing their only real parent. I watched their family mourn the loss of a life too early, and I flashed back to the memories I had with this woman myself. With all of this I thought, what could she have wished she’d done, had she known she would leave us all so soon? What kind of regrets would she have? Then I awoke with the wonder of how we could all live our lives in such contentment, to not take the risks we need to live our lives to the fullest. It is not healthy to live with such regrets.
In these four months, I vowed to follow one dream this year. I have to go somewhere new, on my own terms. Making excuses is no longer an option. There can be enough money, the good experiences will come with the bad, and it’s all an opportunity to learn. The greatest gift we are given as humans is the ability to learn all that we can. We can do so much, there is no sense in limiting ourselves. The world is too big, and life is too short to think we are too small to do something great. Nothing can stand in our way.
Take these lessons as a journal of thought, or as applicable memos of happiness to your own life. Whatever you do, I hope that what you can take out of this are love, drive, and mindfulness. Be open to what 2016 brings you, and reflect on the past four months with a new light.