I spent an entire morning in the beginning of January writing a blog about New Years and reinvention and that painful ritual of self-reflection. I wrote about the highs and lows of my 2011; the beauty and melodrama which was scattered throughout the year… I wrote a lot… only to have not been signed in… henceforth, nothing I wrote was saved, which in a way is kind of ironic. It’s ironic because I thought I had come to all of these amazing self realizations; then to have the whole work disappear, at first felt a bit crushing, like everything I had uncovered would now crawl back into my subconscious until I could get it out on paper again, as if they never existed at all. I struggled with how to get them back, as quickly as possible. But then my boyfriend reminded me of a painful truth that every writer must learn the hard way; you can never recreate something that you have lost. It’ll never be the same – but ok, perhaps this is not so bad after all. And if I really think those realizations are no longer viable, just because I no longer have them down on paper (or on some electronic database), then I’m in more trouble then I thought. It’s ironic because I made all of these promises to myself for 2012; to not be so critical of myself, to accept and relish in the presence that is this moment… blah blah blah – and then when the words were gone, so were the promises… well, until I discovered what I was doing and then embarrassingly made the addendum promise not to renege on my promises. Then I extended this promise, not only to promises made to me, but to promises made to others. (I really wanted to continue this trend and add promises made BY others, but I realize this is entirely out of my control.)
So here it is the end of February. I am sitting in a sunny window at a friend’s in Istanbul – up early to bask in the glorious morning sun that I have been stupidly denying myself for months. I don’t know how the beginning of this year has managed to be so exactly what I was trying to avoid; filled with insecurity and self-deprecating frustration, but here I am, engrossed in more questions than I have answers to, and those promises I made only a couple months ago… seemingly light years in the past.
There were a lot of things I wanted for 2012; a lot of places I wanted to be and realities I would have liked to have existed in. But really, my biggest struggle, is just to exist in the reality of my own skin. To make that conscious choice to just BE HAPPY… for fuck’s sake! And I almost believe that it really could be that simple… make the choice and just ‘be’. Just like so many, I’ve had a lot of beautiful things taken from me in my life; however, just as well, I have also consciously walked away from just as many beautiful things, people and places. I’ve ran, I’ve fought, I’ve struggled to exist in a world I seldom understand. I’ve made choices I’m proud of and choices I sometimes cringe at, but they’re mine, and so I stand by them, loyally, like an attention starved puppy.
But here we are again with this conundrum concept of, choice. ‘Free choice’, ‘the choice is yours’, ‘pro choice’, your choice… a million and ten choices! I have had this conversation many, many times with my fellow expatriates – and the weary conclusion always comes to; we have too many choices. Especially being an expat, we have created an insurmountable array of choices for ourselves. We have the possibility to live anywhere in the world, to embrace any culture we are drawn to, to learn, to work, to love, to run, to stay… to be virtually anything and anyone, and if we get tired of a decision made, it’s just as easy to reinvent and start again – making more choices and expanding our possibilities. And do those possibilities ever get worn out? Some I suppose must. Do WE ever get worn out? Some, I suppose MUST. It’s exhausting all these choices. Not that I’m unhappy with the choice I’ve made to make possible all of these choices, but after a while the decisions become extremely difficult to make and the labyrinth just keeps getting more complex. Sometimes I think I just want somebody else to make a choice for me – like I am too tired to possibly make one more life altering decision. Because that’s what they are – every choice made is a choice to move your life into another realm – to turn down a path, to open one door and close another. We see all the choices, all the possibilities, and they’re mind-numbing. When all anyone wants is to find happiness. Does door number one have the highest chance to provide happiness? What about two, seven, forty-six or perhaps eighty-nine? If I explore them all, with that bring me a greater sense of clarity? hmmmm…. perhaps. But really, isn’t THAT also a choice? Nobody else can make us happy, no special location or occupation. No person, place or thing can save us from our own insanity and self-loathing. And I think it’s the hardest choice we have to make. Where it’s only so easy to choose a new hairstyle, house, city, country, career, lover, or persona – deciding to be happy with whatever choices we make, is, terrifying!
So here I am, back making myself promises again – to be happy – to make better decisions that will somehow lead to a greater chance at being able to actually stick to those promises – to not so easily and quickly loose sight and perspective when life doesn’t go as smoothly as desired, or those previous choices made turn out to not have been the wisest decisions. It’s rarely easy, but if we are always waiting for it to GET easier… we’ll always be miserable and stuck in the cycle of promising ourselves, and others, a reality we’ll never be able to live up to.
“The question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any place we can stand in ourselves where we can look at all that’s happening around us without freaking out, where we can be quiet enough to hear our predicament, and where we can begin to find ways of acting that are at least not contributing to further destabilization.”
― Ram Dass
I’ve always tried to remind myself of this quote as I go about my life… yes, another one of those pesky promises I’m apparently so bad at keeping… well, at least I’m trying, and if that’s the best I can do – then so be it. 🙂