Monday, 29 August 2011

My Return

It was seemingly if not accurately an erratic move back when I upped and left.  If you know me, then you have an inkling as to why, and if you know me well, then you know the details.  And if you don't know me at all, then you must think I'm crazy or unpredictable, and that's fine.  There were a lot of good reasons, but really, I just needed to detach myself from everything going on and approach it differently.

At the time, I had sought a lot of help to deal with the stress.  Yoga, massages, workouts, meditation, counselling, psychiatry.  One professional had asked me what I did to relax.  I went through the list of things that I pencil in.  He said that that's nice, but asked if I like to do those things.  I couldn't answer.  I still can't.  All I have are my recommendations of things to do to destress and my checklists that I use to keep track of them.  But they hadn't been working.  He told me to take some time and "find myself" and discover what it is that "energizes" me.  He said that I was running at 20% and that I need to get up to 100% before I go on.

This was a tall order given that I'd never done it before.  As far back as I can remember, I've basically just jumped from one thing to the next without stopping.  I want to find what "energizes me" but I don't know how to take time to "find myself".  I don't know how to stop.  How do you do something you don't know how to do?

The answer is that you don't.  (Not well, at least.)  I had spent months trying to relax by doing the things that are typically relaxing and all I would find is that those things did not work for me.  So, I did the only thing I knew how to do: I picked myself up, dusted myself off and got out there.  I met people.  I saw places.  I learned things.  I pushed my limits.  I did what I do best.  Succeed.  Succeed in non-ideal circumstances.  And I remembered what it felt like to get excited about something.  I remembered what it felt like to be happy.

I returned because my sister and my mom were moving.  The reason for the move was a huge source of my stress.  However, it was a welcome excuse to return because I'd been curious to see how I would feel after being misplaced for so long.

It turns out that it feels like nothing.  It was like I was in a warp zone.  Every moment I was away felt exponentially longer.  That is, the first week, I felt like I was there a week. The second week, I felt like I had been there a month.  The third week, I felt like I'd been there a couple of months and by the end of the eighth week, I just felt like I had been there forever, like it was "home".

But when I returned, I felt like I hadn't been gone at all.  How could so much happen to me, but nothing change back home?  Did anyone even notice I was gone?  Why should I have stayed?  Why should anyone have asked me to?

I have been told by everyone who has seen me since my return to Toronto that I look happy and that they see a certain glow in me that they haven't seen in ages.  I have been asked What happened? since they last saw me.  What has made me so happy?

I'll tell you what happened: I took some time.  I found myself and what energizes me.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Crashes, Beaches, and Bystanders

What is it about tragedy that is so intriguing that it catches our attention and leaves us dying to know the details?  We rubber-neck for a reason, right?

I drove past a car crash on my way into town this morning.  I did my absolute best to get as much as I could out of viewing it out of the corner of my eye while driving past it pretending to be attentively watching the road directly ahead of me.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pick up very much.  (I make a poor spy but an excellent ignorant bystander.)  However, this much I did catch: there were three people sitting by the side of the vehicles; there was a trailer, and a sedan; no vehicles were totaled - just tipped over.

As I made my way past, I thought about why I or anyone else would want to view it.  I thought about the people involved and how they must be feeling.  I thought about the hassle that it is to deal with insurance companies.  I thought about my own personal experience in dealing with my auto insurance company, and it was this train of thought that led me to recall my first auto collision.

I thought about how I felt when everyone passed by me when I was in distress.  I thought about how a handful of people came to my aid, and how dozens more just walked on by.  I thought about how it was rush hour, and how the streets were packed.  I thought about how the teenager who hit me called all of his friends to show up and pretend they were witnesses.  I smiled when I thought about how I shrugged it off at the time.  I smiled again when I thought about all of the people who waited by my side and helped me.  And then, peculiarly, my mind drifted right back to the people who didn't react and continued to walk on by.

The week following that collision, I went to the beach.  My sister and my best friend convinced me to take a day and just go relax.  On the drive out, my sister mentioned that there had been a number of drownings at that beach that summer, and that it was imperative that we be careful.  I remember scoffing as I said aloud, "With so many people around, it would truly be a tragedy if someone drowned."  So, when I got caught in the undertow of three, large, consecutive waves, it was these words that came to mind.  With every available breath, I screamed "help" as loud as I physically could.  It wasn't immediate, but it came.  I lived.  And here I am.

I do find it a tragedy when people don't get the help they need when there are so many people around, available, and who would be willing to provide it.  But then I think about car crashes that hold up traffic.  I think about how rubber-necking is discouraged because it further holds up traffic.  I think about myself, and how curious I am to know what happened, and then I ask myself "Why?"  Why do I need to know?

I like to think it's because I empathize, and that it's not out of some crazy compulsion to be entertained at someone else' expense.  I think that I need to know because I wonder if it could very well have been me.  What's the difference between me and the person who was in the car crash just ahead of me?  The answer: perhaps nothing.  Perhaps it was just timing.  Perhaps it was just some particular combination of the myriad of seemingly insignificant other factors that altogether amounted to my safety, and to someone else' demise.  Perhaps.

And similarly, perhaps not.  Perhaps I have nothing in common with the person ahead of me.  Perhaps there were unmitigated circumstances to which that person was exclusively subject, and of which I neither may nor am able to ever be aware.  It's hard to gauge.  In any situation, I'm sure, we have some inclination as to which it is, but in the end, it's just a guess.

So, I sit and I wonder.  I rubber-neck and feign disinterest.  I help or at least ensure someone else has.  I ask for help when I need it, and give it when I can.  These are the things that I do.

What about you?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Home, Roots, and Tumbleweeds

I used to think that there were few things that I could know in life besides that I belonged with a certain someone and in Toronto.  Fast-forward five years and here we are.

I have changed residences so frequently over the years that I have to keep a log of all of my previous addresses just so I can keep it all straight.  I don't even know if there's anything in my possession that I've had for longer than a year.  I donate my things with each move partly to reduce moving costs but mostly because I change - my tastes shift, and I get bored of things.  Am I nostalgic? I may not hold onto items, but I definitely hold onto memories.  I enjoy reminiscing fondly about les temps pass├ęs.  Do I long to have them back? No.  Letting go is essential in appreciating the true beauty in a moment.

I have always managed to make each place I've been feel a little bit like a "home".  I get entrenched so quickly.  It's that I find people so fascinating, and given the opportunity to indulge socially, I begin to find it difficult to uproot myself... But I always do, eventually.  I see myself as a tumbleweed: I survive in the desert, disengage from my roots, and leave a little bit of myself everywhere I go.

Someone recently described me as 'flittering about aimlessly'.  I don't think that's the case.  Some people have a home about which they navigate, and towards which gravitate for comfort, strength, and courage.  I don't have a home in this sense.  There is no place, set of things, or network of people that I will always come home to.  Some situations may mimic home in this sense for me, and admittedly, there were times when I thought I found one, but I was wrong.

I've learned that I am my home.  Wherever I go, I will have comfort.  Whenever I rebuild, I will have strength.  And whatever the circumstances, I will survive.
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