The light was the first thing my eyes touched on this past Tuesday morning. It pushed me against my pillow with its humming fingertips and kept me there until I had peace.
The light…it was everywhere, like the presence of a spirit or smoke in a closed-off room. My slatted blinds, though closed, simply blunted the bright cast that softened the white of my walls and emphasized the plushness of my cream comforter. It highlighted the quotes tacked to one of my three bulletin boards and circled around the rosebud-shaped whorls of my softest pillow, bounced off the mirror and added clarity to the bottle choked with fake daisies bought at Michael’s, meant to stand in for the real thing while waiting on warmer weather.
It took those few seconds of sleepy-eyed bliss to fall in love with the world all over again.
Sometimes, I forget that there is anything to love. In fact, there are times where I hate it.
Being real, there’s a lot to hate.
I hate tragedies splayed in black print over tissue-thin, grim-colored newspapers that my father purchases at kiosks. I hate that the money he uses to pay for these newspapers comes from a job he can barely stomach anymore after working within the vicinity of the same work space since he was ten years old. I hate that I can’t help or save everyone, and I hate that at times, I am lazy enough to squander time, money, and other people’s efforts because it’s easy to take things for granted. I hate that imperfection is unattainable.I hate that as a society it is common for most of us to spend 85% of our days, if not more, doing things we’d rather not do, and that most of the time, this cannot be avoided.
There are days where I literally feel as if I am dragging my body through on the verge of exhaustion, and that if only I had the ability to break from it, I would own enough energy to feed starving souls, manage my chaotic life with grace, and be productive enough to receive the You did it that I strive so intently to hear from myself.
You did it. With a period at the end.
But it’s amazing how three seconds–three seconds of white walls glowing that Tuesday morning–obliterated all scraps of dark, toxic-infused negativity that try to wrap itself around my limbs and settle low in my belly. Because those three seconds…those three seconds sent me somersaulting after memories presented in clips and provided a citrus-like burst of hunger for the future.
Sweet hot chocolate from my grandmother on a silver-turning-gold summer morning, where the dewy weeds bowing down in our camping site are blocked from itching our ankles by flare jeans brushing over athletic shoes. My first bite of brownie in the triangle shadow of my house, the rose bush blushing. Recess basketball on a rain-pelted court. Four pairs of tanned legs dangling over the edge of the bed of a dust-colored Chevrolet. Clipped pounding sounds belting from my typewriter. Rain at the edge of my bed, trailing down my window, saluting the circle of trees that belonged to four young girls with muddy hands and stubborn resolve. Sweet, peppered corn on a sliver-trap porch. The unsteady sway of a cruise boat, the words of a play, the tired eyes of a reader and flowing ’70s tops racked tightly against one another, waiting for adoption. Guava juice paired with crisp rolls in Paris, blank pages waiting to be named, stacks of books and the massive courtyard at UW, disorganized dress-up clothes stuffed in giant Tupperware, a roughly-textured yellow room, windows thrown open in every room of Willey Wing and the flickering of a fire underneath scores of stars in the company of life-hungry youths.
As usual, these images were not chosen. They simply presented themselves. As I laid there, experiencing this bombardment of scenes speeding through my mind faster and more disorganized than a film strip, for the first time in my adult life, I realized just how full my life has been.
Yes, there is so much more I want to do. I want to publish books. I want to find that one person I won’t be able to keep myself from falling madly in love with, over and over again. I want to travel to as many places as I possible. I want to be middle-aged with my best of friends, and honor those who gave to me by giving back. I want to reach a point or two where I can say to myself, You did it (period), because there is nothing like a job well-done, a goal achieved, physical proof as to why you should be proud of yourself.
But on Tuesday morning, I came to the conclusion that even without these things, I would be content. If I were to have died that afternoon, and been able to review the 20 years of my life thus far, it would’ve sufficed. And that is a conclusion I never thought I would reach without “having it all.”
“All” doesn’t even exist yet.
The stuff leading up to it, however, does.
I think one of the leading causes of fear of mortality has less to do with what happens after death and more to do with what we don’t complete before it comes. Everyone is always advising that each of us live in the moment, live every day like it’s our last, and it’s discouraging to realize that the way this world is structured does not allow for that.
Thus, the heavy days.
But, it was reassuring for me to reflect and have a clear picture of how I don’t need to “do it (period)” or “have it all,” simply because there are a lot of things I have done and a lot of things that I have.
I am in love with my story, and for that I am so thankful. I am relieved.
I am in love with my story and the world it is told in, but not in an attached, don’t-take-this-from-me way, because each section of my life, though very different, was of the finest quality.
Quality doesn’t have to mean good. I can definitely pinpoint several incidences where everything was less than okay. Nevertheless, I find them quality because like crayons, they colored my life and taught me that the first draft will not always be perfect, and that I am forgiven for that.
I need to try. I need to keep trying, to keep practicing what I love and attempting to achieve and experience that of which I dream of. But after Tuesday, I realize that my life is not without substance if I don’t make everything happen the way I hope or plan.
I’ve done the best with what I’ve had. And that is enough.
I am enough.
And I am so excited to see what is in store.
The light stayed for a bit. It warmed the air long enough for me to lock my apartment, hop into my car, and dart to class. When I emerged, the light had sidestepped and was replaced with yet another shade of grey.
What the light didn’t do was fold into the grey, like a paper napkin on a picnic table that will cave after a few drops of rain.
No. The light just let the grey take place, and accepted it, knowing that it would be back soon.