At the beginning of the month I made a commitment to celebrate the good things, to look for the bright spots, and to dedicate myself to being me . . . and liking it. Over lunch the other day, a friend commented on how we both were attracted to the struggle. Her theory was that our ability to persevere, to not give up, and to refuse to be defined by failure made us the perfect people to take charge of impossible situations. Why? Because we believe in the underdog, make it our mission to succeed, and we truly believe if we wrestle adversity to the ground, we will make this world a better place. We are attracted to the struggle like moths to the flame and we either come to a fiery end or we sacrifice ourselves for the good of the cause. She suggested that it might be time to find another way.
I’ve been wondering about the truth in that observation. It certainly defines my writing in the last year. I could not write past my own struggles and I certainly let it define me. I became the confidante to others that were struggling, lending a patient ear to their health, relationship, and career issues. Their stories were looking for validation, and I certainly thought I could help by being accepting and understanding. Everyone hopes that they have at least one person in their life that will play that role. But at the end of the day, I not only took on each struggle, but I eagerly added that baggage to my own. And the truth is that by year end I found myself close to reenacting Brunhilde’s immolation scene or becoming Abraham’s sacrificial lamb.
Perhaps my friend was right and it is time to find a new way. If I could do it over, I would tell myself and my struggling friends the following: If you want to improve your health, live healthy. If you want to be loved, be brave enough to love first. If you don’t want to be judged, stop judging. If you want the life you deserve, start living. While you’re at it, get rid of the long list of rules you expect the rest of the world to live by and accept them as the shield that keeps you from living the life you want. Jettison your resentment and replace it with gratitude. Mark those moments when you feel truly alive. Is it any surprise that life’s adrenaline comes from risk-taking and life's endorphins come from pushing past the arbitrary limits we set for ourselves? Most of all, I would say take responsibility for your life. Look at the moon in all its fullness. Celebrate the sun in all its brightness. Remember the warmth and not the cold. Stop thinking you don’t have a choice and make a choice; and make it one that you can actually live and not simply live with. Perhaps my friend was right. Perhaps it’s time to find another way.
© Kelly Tweeddale 2013