I was asked by my therapist recently who my support system is. I stared blankly at her for a good 12 seconds, not because I don’t know what a support system is but because I don’t have one. I have no family and one parent whose depth of conversation usually involves my dogs and work. I know plenty of people but have no good friends ( I had several childhood and close friends but we are no longer in contact). I’ve heard the saying we can get used to anything but hadn’t truly grasped how real that was for me. I am alone. Not out of choice but out of circumstance. Truly alone. And I’m so used to this I barely noticed it. I could say support isn’t really necessary, look how far I’ve made it. Look how strong I am but that would be false. I am in fact so without support that I am paying someone to be there for me (insert laughter, because I find humor in everything). I pride myself on being able to outlast anyone and live through anything but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. We need support, friendships, relationships to go. To learn. When all you have is yourself you become a different kind of tough and it’s not always for the best but it’s because you have no other choice.
I’ve had a lot of experience with death throughout my life. I’m familiar with the feeling of loss and being alone in an instant. I’ve become hardened, maybe a little jaded. How else would I survive, I thought. How could I not become a little cold, a little detached. Another light in my life recently went out. I sat with him as his heart stopped beating and instead of turning away I looked straight into the moment. Because that’s what this all is, just a moment. One long or short moment, one moment here or there. It’s all just a moment. Seemingly insignificant because all it is is meaningful. We are all so fragile. So breakable despite being so solid and real. The moment is so easy to extinguish but so much harder to construct. Life takes. It takes time. It takes work. This one moment of death somehow touched me. It shook me. It broke me. It wasn’t just an idea, a formula. It was real. It was a whole moment of nothing at all. It was knowing that someone else’s moment was gone. We do a lot of things to deal with death but being in the moment with it usually isn’t one of them. I realized in that moment what was lost, what was gone. It’s funny how seeing a moment pass by reminds you to be more in the one right now. Don’t try to escape it, wish or think your way out. Don’t waste your moment because it’s all you have.
This post may stray from my normal reflections and advice but I felt I needed to put it down in words. Two days ago I had to euthanize one of my two dogs. His name was Sterling. He lived every day purely in love with life his best friend Ronan and me. No matter what I did or said he loved me. We went through tremendous ups and downs while I had him. He taught me about intentions. He taught me about never regretting. He taught me about letting go. He taught me I should be better, kinder and more patient and I wish I had been. Putting him to rest was one of the hardest and most painful decisions I’ve ever made and although it was the right decision I do not think a part of that will ever leave me although I hope to let go of my regrets. I am heartbroken without this amazing little being who changed my life and made me feel less alone every day. I know he is finally at peace and for that I am grateful. I wish his time in this world had been different, better and more what he deserved but I walk away from this knowing I did the best I could and although I feel I let him down I try to move on the way he did-with love and joy living entirely in the moment. We should all be so lucky to be around an animal who forgives our weaknesses and faults and loves us unconditionally. If enlightenment means living only for the moment with an open heart and forgetting all else then dogs are the enlightened beings. I took his little heart for granted and realized I take so much for granted on a daily basis. We truly are here and then we are gone and no one really will notice that void so we need to do something, make something count while we inhabit this space and time. If you want a paradigm for how to live your life, live it like a dog does. Live it with nothing but honesty, gratefulness, happiness forgetting all your yesterdays and thinking today is all your tomorrows.
I wanted to start the week off talking about the moment. What moment are you in? Where in space are you living? I recently made the choice to be more aware of how I’m living my life and realized most of my thoughts and therefore energy are either in the past or in the future. I am therefore creating a predictable present. Learning to control my thoughts and my emotions connected to those thoughts has been difficult, to say the least. I am someone who likes control because I often feel like I have none. Trying to become more aware of myself has made me see that I indeed do not have much control over myself only because I haven’t been training my body and mind to stop creating chaos at all times. I like to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Nothing about this process is known or sure. Instead, you’re trying to live solely as much in the unknown as possible. Create the life you want from the present moment. I am always off in a thousand places, as I’m working, driving, shopping. I’m never truly here. Becoming aware of this has been scary. No wonder I live in a state of stress and fear. A quote I often see is “The past is past, let it go” and that is true. I worry most about the past and thus let it create my future and then I wonder why the future is as I predicted. Change your thoughts and change your life has become a cliche notion in the mainstream media in the last few years but it is true. Don’t just change your thoughts, change your attachments and your feelings to those thoughts. If I want to live a different life with different outcomes I have to change how I live right now, I have to be a little uncomfortable all the time. None of this is easy or even satisfying in the moment. It’s frustrating and scary but I think it’s a necessary talk we need to start having since we live in such a fast-paced and futuristic world and thus are missing out on the moments of joy and change we can create right now.
I was talking to a friend today about a situation that I just can’t seem to completely remove myself from or have removed from me. I said I was aware that my actions often backslid myself into the position I didn’t want to be in and I had two choices: 1. do things how I usually do them, which is to make continual, slow and griding process-up the mountain 3 steps forward 4 steps back or to stop walking completely and just sit with it. Sit with it until it’s gone, until it means nothing, until it means everything. She noted that that is obviously, short-term the much harder option but long-term the less exhaustive option. Sitting with it is what we are least likely to do, we will do anything to avoid having to deal with pain, the suffering, the anguish head-on with no distractions. We live in a culture that does not value the time it takes to do this or the willpower and decisiveness. And that is why I think sitting with it is always the answer.
It is easy for us to be upset when our expectations about what we think we want are not meant. However, understanding that if you worked hard, put in 120%-no bullshit, no excuses and it still didn’t turn out in your favor then it was not meant for you. The only way to reconcile this is to continue working and realize you have to have faith that something better is coming.
Most people say that regret is a bad thing. I would disagree. Regret is an amazing motivator. If you’ve ever sat with the elderly and asked them what they would have done differently they will give you a list of things they wish they’d spent more time on. Living a regret-free life isn’t just accepting that “it was meant to be” it’s being proactive. That fear of missing out, not taking the chance, not going for what you want should motivate you to want to not look back at sixty, seventy, eighty and say I wish I’d done it differently.
We have one chance to get it right. You can’t get that time back once it’s gone and I can guarantee the fear of failure and the fear of being uncomfortable are so much less than the fear of seeing what could have been.