On the last day of my first year being 25 (time is a construct and I flat out refuse to be older than my current age), I find myself oddly fine. Five by five, as Faith from Buffy would say.
Since I’m not getting older, the usual anxieties I have on the eve and day of my birthday (Where exactly am I headed? Am I wasting my life? Is the world made better by my being here?) aren’t plaguing me.
That means I have the free time to share 5 lessons I’ve learned from my cringe comedy life. Some lessons I had to learn over and over again, because oh how passionately do we (I) resist profound realisation. Some lessons I taught myself after years of contemplating, because life’s complexity deserves pondering. Some lessons I learned from being the best person I could be, and others I learned from, well, being an asshole. (We all contain multitudes, right?)
With no further ado, I present 5 Things I’ve learned in 25 years.
1. Life’s too short to be at war with yourself
From what I’ve seen, most of us who have experienced self loathing just sort of found ourselves in it; suddenly warriors armed to the brim with weapons pointed…at ourselves. Why? Maybe we didn’t feel like we were enough. Maybe the world told us we weren’t. And we took it as truth; and in this belief we built arsenals and waged wars that wounded us so deeply they left scars.
Scars that look like distrust, and leaving before you can be left, and dreams unfulfilled for lack of trying, and the distance you place between yourself and others, and all those dysfunctions that make your life so painful. Scars that exist from you winning pyrrhic victories after laying waste to your own soul. Scars that make us think we should hang on to our pain like it’s going to mean something.
You hang on to your pain like it means something. Like it’s worth something. Well, let me tell you – it’s not worth shit. Let it go! Infinite possibilities, and all he can do is whine.
Well, what am I supposed to do?
What do you think? You can do *anything*, you lucky bastard – you’re alive! What’s a little pain compared to that?
It can’t be that simple.
Nathaniel Fisher:Six Feet Under, Season 4 Episode 2
What if it is?
If you lay down your weapons and trade your war cries for champion songs, just as you found yourself suddenly imprisoned by self-hate, you’ll find yourself suddenly giving into deeper beauties and profundities life’s journey has to offer.
2. No one has all the pieces
Your palms aren’t big enough for you to gather all of yourself, the weight of who you are mean pieces of you will always spill over. By curse or design, you can only manage a handful.
No one has all the pieces, but gather as many as you can. Take pieces from your family, your friends, from the bonds you share with others; and when you find that, like you, these bonds cannot be the end all, be all then turn to gifts the world has offered you. Read books. Watch movies. Listen to songs. Enjoy art. Consume these things so you learn from the pain borne and joy felt by others.
Look for the pieces everywhere, lovely, and never stop.
3. The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it.
There I go again with a Buffy reference!Well, lovely, it’s true. To live is such a troublesome endeavour. You can’t avoid pain, and even when you try your damnedest, you often can’t avoid causing it. Sweet joys are threatened and marred by loss, beautiful things lack permanence. You’ll watch people you love die and witness awful feats of humanity. Irreplaceable moments with wither away in our memories and you’ll have to pay taxes (well, the moral amongst us anyway).
Through it all, you’ll be on your way to dying and one day this world will be as if you’d never been a part of it.
Worst of all, it will always be this way. It’s this fact that makes the sweet joys and beautiful things and irreplaceable moments so magnificent. The depths of sorrow are what makes us marvel at the heights of joy. The journey we take to discover and treasure these wonderful things are worth more than the hardships life promises. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it…the most beautiful thing is to live in it anyway.
4. You can’t run from consequences
You’ll often be faced with the choice of contending with the havoc you have wrought.
If you’re dishonest, you’ll bury the responsibility somewhere deep and let it poison you, and seep into the thread of who you are as you deny your way to the end of your life. And if on the way you happen to forget, you will still be poisoned.. You’ll be all hurt and anger and suspicion. You won’t know things like a true friend or love that isn’t beholden. You will build prisons to cage yourself from the pain you have caused and one day no one will be left to try to save you.
Even if you’re truthful and face the havoc, it’s weight may never leave. Sometimes there’s no forgiveness. There’s no absolution. It may just be you and things you’ve done – all added up.
5. It’s complicated
Life? Complicated? Groundbreaking. But alas, it is.
There you have it. 5 of the biggest lessons I have learned in my quarter of a century on earth. What do you think? Relate to any? Question some? What have you learned during your journey around the sun? Let me know in the comments.