Monday, March 29, 2010

Late for Today

Isn't it so funny how sometimes time can stand so completely still? And I'm not talking about those moments you read about in books where "I looked into his eyes and time stood completely still". I'm talking about those moments where something so subtle can bring you back so far so quickly and make you feel like you never left, like you never grew up, like things haven't changed so much.

It doesn't take much for me to experience this type of nostaglia, or so I noticed today. It can be the simplest thing. Take, for example, a visit to the dentist's office. The very same dentist you've gone to your whole entire life. As soon as I walk through the doors I am 10 years old all over again. Despite some random updates in equipment, everything is exactly the same--from the big automatic chairs, to the yellowish tinge in the overhead lights, to the reception desk and all the fun prizes hidden behind it (the stickers and bouncey balls and  plastic froggies). The years have passed everywhere else in the world except for that dentist office, where I am still that little girl, nervous to be there again and excited to have a day off school. I am that little girl when I open the door to Book City and smell that familiar smell of books old and new, thick and thin, black and white or coloured all over. The same Book City with the same yellow and black sign with the same shelves. All of a sudden I am tugging at my mother's jacket, begging her for the latest Berenstain Bear book to add to my already vast collection. Memories seep through the walls and standing in that room again brings them back into painfully vivid focus.

No, it does not take much at all to take us back. A movie, a storybook, a favorite meal, a cartoon show, a bowl of cereal, waking up to the surprise of cooking pancakes. And even if it's just for a moment, everything is erased. All that we have gone through over however many years that have passed. Getting over our first day of school, making our first friend, conquering our first ever homework assignment, graduating from high school, getting our degree, getting over a flu, healing a broken bone, healing a broken heart...losing someone you love.... And for that moment everything is right again. And nothing has ever hurt enough to leave a scar. We have so much to gain and at the same time everything to lose. And you feel so innocent but still so indestructable. And so motivated and not quite yet jaded. And nothing is impossible.

And everything is possible.

And dreams aren't just for dreaming, but goals for acheiving.

And then you come back to now and you are determined once again. And now I am refreshed all over again.

But a piece of me wishes time could go back and stand still forever. And I wouldn't have to just pretend you were waiting for me in the waiting room. And I wouldn't have to see you in the paintings on the wall, or fly fishing picture frames you made on the counters. Or feel you in the eyes of an old friend. And the time I spend with you wouldn't need to end when I wake up. And I wouldn't need these moments to be reminded of you, because you'd be in the car right next to me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

If I hadn't just been sitting in it, I would say that you'd lost your mind!

There's something about being young that so many of us seem to forget. It seems easy to do so, too, considering for the bulk of our lives we are told that we need to grow up and be serious to save our futures. It's almost ironic, how we are constantly told we need to work harder when we are young in order to prepare ourselves for a lifetime of, let's face it, working even harder. So when do we get to enjoy the ride? I mean, sure we enjoy it in our own way, through our own outlets. In our social lives, with our friends, with our girlfriends and boyfriends. But that's only half of it. That's only a quarter of the way we spend our time. The rest of it is spent either cooped in the library, sitting in a lecture hall, working full time, building houses, building roads, installing lighting...

But who said we weren't supposed to enjoy what we do for a living? With a world so big and vast, yet with all our opportunities so close, why do we think we have so little choice? And most importantly, why can't we enjoy our road to discovery? Making a choice doesn't have to be as hard as we think, and at the same time it doesn't have to come so easy. We don't need to stick with our first choice...or second, or third. We don't even need to stick with any choice at all, ever. If success and happiness can come to you in constant change, than why do you need to settle for monotony? And if making choices isn't easy, then why can't it be fun? We have the opportunity now to dabble here and there, to explore things we may think we aren't suited for, aren't talented enough for or things that may seem impossible to acheive. But what do we know anyways? How well could you possibly know yourself at 16, at 21, or even 30 to be so sure that you can only do so much?  How many times have you surprised yourself by surpassing your goals, acheiving the unexpected...even if it just means finishing that essay you never thought would end (and acing it, to boot), or making your sales goal at work, finally saving enough money to buy a car, laying that last brick.

It's so easy for us to take our weekend so lightly. To have one too many drinks, to act just a little immature, maybe dance on surfaces not meant for heels, to crankcall strangers (or not) already sleeping, to kiss one too many boys you may not have if your vision was a bit less foggy, to use our outdoor voices indoors, to waste our money on unnecessary clothes, shoes, purses, sunglasses, alcohol...and to back it all up with the "I'm young, what does it matter?" excuse. Maybe the way we think on our offtime isn't so wrong. Maybe we shouldn't try so hard to not act our shoe size. Maybe we can really be ourselves when we don't take ourselves too seriously. Maybe we would make wiser choices, take the more daring path. Maybe we would find a more real version of ourselves, and maybe we would find a path that let's us express that everyday...not just on Saturday nights. Maybe we could end up doing something that makes us happy AND pay the wouldn't that be naughty?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!

I think I'm finally coming to that point now. My lack of formal responsibilities has cleared my mind and allowed me to reach that place. That place where I feel comfortable starting to think...think about possibilities, think about choices, think about tomorrow...but in a non-restricted way. In a no-deadline kinda way. Not in the way I've been trained to think, to function. There is no due date on my thoughts.

My first step, I've decided, is to think about my thoughts. To think about thinking. Because when it comes down to it, I am myself in my truest form when I am living in my mind. I think we are all most true to ourselves in our thoughts. Contrary to popular belief, we are not defined by our actions, I believe. So often they are done on impulse, so often our insecurities or our over-confidence force us to act, or not act, for all the wrong reasons. So often we regret our actions. So often we rectify them in our thoughts.

What kind of thinker are you? Do you think to dream? Or are your thoughts more grounded? How do you think about yourself? Are you critical or defensive? Do you chastise your self in your mind for the choices you make, or reason away the guilty conscience you have built for the choices you do not make at all? Do you dream of objects...of cars, or houses, or cottages or dogs...or do you dream of emotions? Of happiness and excitement, of laughter and of love?

Does your mind create a fantasy land for you that cushions your thoughts from the harsh reality? Do you dream of living in a land where fantasy is real, where you can touch your dreams with your hand?

I dream of a time where I can be where I dream, without dreaming at all....where I can live the life of my thoughts. I dream of the day when my body follows my find on my journies. When the lands I create can be concrete in some form, in some land not made of smoke. I dream of the day when everything doesn't seem so out of reach. When happiness and success can both mean following your heart. Where the impending doom of our futures doesn't seem so dark, doesn't stop us from remembering the present.

Where does your mind take you? And when do we leave?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lace up

I have a confession to make. It's not something I'm proud of...but really, yes I am. It has led me to make some not-so-wise decisions but has taken me on one of the greatest journies of my life.

I am in an abusive relationship.

Unfortunately, it is not fresh. No, it is definitely not new. It is ten years in progress, and for that reason, it is impossible to walk away.

If the ride on this endeavour has been anything, it has definitely been bumpy. But rough as it has been, every second has been worth it. Even those seconds when I forget just how good it is, especially those seconds when I come so close to giving up, to throwing in the towel, just to pick myself up again and put my all into it with a reborn energy so strong I feel like we're starting all over from scratch.

It is one of those relationships that keep you coming back for more, no matter how battered and weak you feel. It was hard from the start. Hard to commit to. Hard to find the time. Hard to find the energy. Hard to change my ways. The struggle only made it more difficult. Made me feel unworthy. Made me feel like I didn't belong. But as they so often say it will, time made it better. Made me stronger. Made me realize my potential. Slowly I got strong. Slowly I was ready to take on more.

The middle years have passed in a blur. Things got comfortable as they so often do. The whole thing just became a routine. But by the same token, it became my routine. It became a part of my schedule. It became an integral part of my to do list. It became not just something I did, but something I was. And as habit so often does, things became easier. The whole thing just got boring. The challenge disappeared and I lost interest. I stopped giving it all. I thought I had reached my potential. The relationship suffered. It was on the verge of breaking. I was on the verge of calling it quits.

And then it came. That renewed energy that so often seems to save us all in the nick of time. Just when you're convinced you can't take it anymore, you realize why you've come this far in the first place. And the love was back...if it had even ever entirely left. And I was strong again. And we were strong again. Things went back to the beginning. When you get over that awkward stage of finding your footing and finally start to enjoy the ride. And every bump, no matter how big, felt like a make-shift barrier, just put there temporarily, just waiting to be broken. And I could make it through all the pain as if it wasn't there. Ignored until it healed itself. Now, today, we are still going strong, although problem free we are not. I still wake up those mornings with a bad taste in my mouth at the thought of it. I still curse the day it all began, wishing I could have found a life that made me happy without it.

But the fact of the matter is, there is nothing quite like this relationship that I am in. It is contradictory in every which way possible. Just as quick as it can elate me, it will deflate me. It is a monotonous rountine, yet it is completely unpredictable. It has the power to break me down but has the tools to build me back up. It makes me strong, but at the same time it eats away at my bones, makes me weak at the knees. I dread the days when we meet but when we are apart I wish we could be together. It picks me up when I am about to hit the ground, it makes me feel like I can overcome it all...and then it sends me home in tears. It is the only thing that will make me forget the pain...the very same pain it has caused. It understands me the best, without asking for explanation. It needs no excuses. It pushes me further just as quick as it threatens to limit me. It takes me away from it all, without even taking me a mile. It is just as bad for me as it is good. Everyday I go to it with dragging feet just to skip back with a lightened step.

Through it all, it has always been there. Always the same, but always adapting to me as a change, as I grow, as I need more, as I need less.

No one ever said it would be easy. The things that matter the most never are.

It is my battlefield.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Wow has it ever been a while. I went through another one of my slacking stages. You know those stages where you get computer lazy? Lazy to turn it on, lazy to wait for it to load or re-load once it freezes, lazy to creep pictures on Facebook, lazy to respond to peoples posts. That's exactly what I've been lately...lazy...lazy and loving it.

After going through a few changes and switches since the fall I finally feel settled. If you're waiting for me to tell you I've settled into a job with a promise or in even semi-concrete plans for my future, you may be here a while. Because the only thing I have settled into is my meaningless routine of part-time work in service, going to the gym, spending my free time completely as I please whether it be sleeping, or cleaning, throwing tea parties or booking last minute Caribbean getaways. And it turns out it is precisely what I've needed all along, just what the anxiety doctor called for: to be settled feeling unsettled-not knowing what to do next and, finally, not worried about it.

Since as far back as high school (to Grade 10's Civics and Careers to be exact), I've been so entirely focused on the What's Next? What can I do now to make my Next come quicker, make my transition smoother, get me to that place where I make the most money to take two vacations annually and perhaps own a cottage up north. What can I do now to get the best grades to get into the best university? What program can I take that'll give me the best chance to land that lucrative career? What exactly is that lucrative career...why do I want it? What do I ask my work to bring me in my life and what am I willing to give to it in exchange? I always put so much on my plate to make the most of my time--sports teams and school councils, part time jobs that turned into 40 hour work weeks above and beyond my school time, taking on fashion shows during two of the most difficult years of my life, balancing a pretty active social life throughout it all and let's not forget my gym addiction which needs to be fulfilled at least 5 days a week. Although being goal oriented is definitely not a flaw, the problem it seems to cause is that we simply forget to focus on the What's Now? When was there time for me to just sit back and think, to put everything into perspective, to figure out who I am outside all my responsibities, my tasks, my assignments, my workouts, the clubs, the parties? What makes me me when I'm left alone to my own devices...what will I build for myself?  I've focused all my mental stamina on figuring out just where to turn next and have forgotten where I was walking. Every morning I woke up and worked for tomorrow, every night I fell asleep anxious for a sunrise instead of taking the time to enjoy the moonlight.

This realization has helped me to slow down, to step back. To see that after so many years of What's Next I'm finally ready to take some time to live for now. To wake up every day and create my own agenda, to have nothing tying me down from doing what I want when I want--no essay to stop me from going for a tan, to the mall, for a swim, to hot yoga--no meeting with vendors to make me cancel my hair appointments or take me away from that book I just can't put down--no full time job to restrict my vacation book-offs, to stop me from going up north for a few days when I want to just get away, to take me away from the money service work makes so quick and easy and limit my funds. Now I think freely...about whatever I want...about things that don't necessarily stress me out...although sometimes those thoughts creep back up. Now I go to bed as late (or as early) as I want. I book off my shifts online, guilt free. I draw pictures in my agenda to make up for the empty space left blank by a lack of school assignments. Now I am happy being uncertain and excited to make the most of this time of my work to work to live...and not to live to work....but to live for me.