Day 4 – A Story in a Single Image
Today I needed to pick a photo out of four and use it as a starting point, a springboard into a story, poem or personal thoughts. All four photos had things I could say about them yet this one spoke to me in a way the others did not.
There is such care-free abandon in that jump, such freedom, such joy. It makes me happy that there is such joy in the world and yet at the same time it makes me feel so sad and so lonely. Moments like that seem so rare in my life, my life which feels so controlled and worried about. I want that type of feeling, I want to gleefully leap into pools, dance down the street and laugh with my friends. I want to feel such freedom rather than the feeling of constraint and tension that seem to accompany my day to day life.
Wanting and doing though are two very different things. The very things that mean my life feels it is missing these moments are the very things that put barriers up to stop me moving towards such a place of, if you’ll excuse the language, not giving a fuck and grasping life with both hands. Every movement towards a life that will bring me joy seems to be so hard fought, involves such effort. And I am tired, tired of this constant battle with myself. The me that is so scared, so worried, so doubting vs. the me that sees such joy, such fun, such pleasure in the world and wants it in my world. There needs to be some agreement, some compromise…because that person in the photograph, that is me, I can feel it deep inside.
“Yes, you and I will die one day.
But before that day comes: let us live“
John Pavlovitz, On the Day I Die
This article by John Pavlovitz recently popped up in my Facebook memories. I remember reading it for the first time and feeling the impact of it so much that I shared it (a rather rare occurrence for me). I still feel that impact each and every time I read his words. It gives me that little nudge I so often need to focus on what really matters in life…to live.
Being someone with anxiety, I spend much of my time in the past or in the future, dwelling on what has passed or worrying about what is to come. I am pretty rubbish at living in the now, enjoying what and who I have in my life. I get so caught up in small and quite frankly insignificant things that I forget to focus on what really matters to me. Years of my life were spent trying to live a certain life, to be a certain type of person fitting with the expectation of society. It took serious anxiety problems and a whole heap of soul searching to see that type of life wasn’t for me.
And yet I still struggle to let go of so many worries and issues of the type listed in the article, things that really won’t matter when my life is over. I know that in that instant when life becomes death, all those things that have caused me stress and anxiety will be over and no longer matter. All the material belongings I sometimes feel I am drowning in yet struggle to give up will no longer be of consequence to me. All those plans made, arguments I won or lost, things I never did, all the panics and stresses I have had ~ all will suddenly no longer have an ounce of meaning or importance. The world will keep turning, social media will carry on regardless and I will no longer care about what I may miss out on.
Quite frankly I don’t want to wait until I die for this to happen. My life has been so controlled by my anxieties, worries, fears and how things are supposed to be and I am tired of living like that. I want to live a life that makes me happy, that allows me to appreciate the wonder of being alive. I want to spend time with those who matter to me because the article is right, when someone you care about dies, the one thing you really want to have is more time with them. And you can’t. So I am going to try to remember to worry less about those things that will no longer matter or are beyond my control, the things that are stopping me living now. I am going to enjoy who and what I really care about. I am going to live now because one day I will die and then it will be too late. And I will read this article again and again every time I need a reminder.
Photo by ColobusYeti
People often seem surprised that I have anxiety with the occasional side helping of depression as they often will see me smiling and laughing. I use the word ‘surprised’, perhaps sometimes disbelief is more appropriate to describe what I see in their faces or hear in their voices. It seems that to some people unless you are sad or panicked 100% of the time, you clearly cannot have any difficulties and are simply exaggerating or making it up.
Well I do chuckle, I do laugh, I do enjoy things…and I do have anxiety that at times has been fairly crippling. I do little in my life that is not affected by my anxiety yet, just as someone seriously ill can find fun and smiles in their life, I can also find plenty to bring laughter to my life.
So don’t judge the photos I post on my social media and think ‘things clearly aren’t that bad’. Those photos are the happy moments in my world, the times when things seem good and not bleak like life can sometimes be. I choose not to share on Facebook or Instagram when times are tough not because I want my life to appear wonderful, I do it because for me that is not the place. And I’m not really sure a photo of me laying on the sofa aimlessly staring out of the window would actually be that interesting…
It is said laughing is good for the soul and it certainly does help mine. It reminds me how much good there is in this life. Laughter and anxiety are not mutually exclusive states.
I appear to have got distracted from my planned next post! I fully intended to write to you a little bit about my trip to Orlando…and then I kept seeing photos popping up on my social media of all the sakura (cherry blossom) in Japan right now and I felt I wanted to write on that instead. Pinky promise that some posts on my vacation will be coming up real soon though.
I love all the seasons for different reasons. They are part of the cycle of life for me, they remind me how things start and end, how the world keeps turning and that life goes on regardless. Winter is a time of snuggling, crisp days and woolly hats. Autumn is full of glorious colours and piles of leaves made for kicking. Even hot uncomfortable summer (assuming we get one in the UK that is!) when I can’t sleep or go outside because it is too sunny has bluer than blue skies and house martins sweeping overhead Spring though holds an extra special spot for me and every single year I am reminded how much I love it.
Photo by ColobusYeti
This time of year is when that part of nature that has been having a jolly nice winter snooze wakes itself up and everything springs back into life (pun intended!). Seeing all the crocuses, tulips and daffodils makes me smile and feel all sorts of happiness inside. There is such joy in them. Buds appearing on the trees and bushes delight me more than the leaves that will take their place. There is an energy that I feel at this time of year that lifts me up and makes me happy to be alive in a way that no other season really does.
Cherry blossom sparks off all these happy feels big time and I love seeing the trees erupting in that all too brief moment of fragile beauty. It is a stunning sight wherever it happens in the world yet nowhere seems to take it quite to heart in the way the Japanese do. Sakura (the Japanese word for cherry blossom) seems to be something all Japanese love and I have been lucky to experience cherry blossom season there several times giving me a huge appreciation of how important it is to them. People stop to admire the blooms wherever they appear. Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties spring up in parks, by canals and in graveyards. Social media is full of snaps of cherry blossoms and shops or restaurants awash with sakura themed items. It seems to take over daily life from the eagerly awaited first sightings of blossom until the final bloom has died.
The Japanese love for cherry blossom runs much deeper though than it simply being something pretty to look at and it is something that really rings true for me. They value cherry blossom not simply for its simple beauty or for the festivities that accompany it, they also find a message in its short yet brilliant existence. It is a reminder that life is brief and fleeting. Life slips by so very quickly without people really noticing or accepting that one day death will come for them and cherry blossom reminds us that life is short, amazing, precious and something that we need to enjoy, take note of and be thankful for. Life is for living and for me, spring serves as the perfect reminder for this. So next time you see some blossom, take a moment to consider our fragile yet awesome existence.
Photo by ColobusYeti