Everybody says that life is short. Everybody has a quote or a personal story or philosophy that they either came up with or adopted which explains why life should be enjoyed. But from what I find, both in working with clients and just in my day-to-day experiences, is that people can talk the talk but they don't exactly walk the walk.
I can't say that at 30 years old, I've had the easiest and most graceful life possible. I have had ups and downs, made more mistakes than I can count, learned from more mistakes I can count, started jobs, left jobs, started relationships, left relationships -- and even moved across the country a few times. Things could have been much worse and I am grateful every day that they weren't -- but at the same time, my life never really felt like it made much sense to me. I spent a lot of time chasing things that I couldn't put a name on and running from things that I knew I didn't want. In other words, I spent a lot of time living everywhere except the present moment. I thought ahead, haunted with anxiety of what was to possibly come, or stayed lost in the past, filled with my own resentments and ashamed feelings of not doing things exactly as I had hoped. I've been scared, selfish at times, self-involved, irresponsible, reckless and generally impatient with the process of life. In the most clear and direct way possible, I simply was not enjoying my life. I was existing in my life and going through the motions of what looked like living, but I wasn't experiencing anything other than my deep-seated fear of never actually living the life I thought I deserved and wanted more than anything.
I don't believe in having my happiness and enjoyment of life dependent on other people. Of all the things I have learned in my 30 years, that is one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn. One of the reasons I spent so much time being unhappy is because I looked to other people, relationships, friends, family -- to fill a void that I had in myself. I wanted people to fix it, I wanted an easy answer... and above all I wanted someone to tell me just how I could find the path that would lead me to my very own pot of gold. I didn't want to work for it and in some ways, in hindsight, maybe I just didn't want it bad enough. Maybe part of me was happy walking around, feeling sorry for myself and waiting for the right person or situation or experience to magically change my attitude and circumstances. And perhaps I just needed to sit in it. I needed to fully experience, for years on end, a general state of unhappiness and anxiety in order to fully and authentically embrace what could be and was, on the other side. There's a quote somewhere that says that without the darkness, there can't be light and that is the best way I can think of to describe a lot of my past.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my boyfriend's living room and I started to cry. I realized, in one moment, that the life I have been dreaming about for years and years, is finally the one I am living. Now, I am not an overly romantic person and am pretty practical and reasonable for the most part. I like to embrace things as they are and not be too overly dramatic about situations. But all of the realizations of what I have been dreaming about, fantasizing about and writing about for the past decade all came together into one thought that changed my life.
I looked around the room, took in a deep breath and just let myself experience the fullness of the moment. I knew while it was happening that my life was changing. I knew that all of the anxiety and fear and negativity and cynicism from the past years of my life no longer have a place. The years of feeling like I needed to really "experience the darkness" all came flooding to the surface of my conscious mind and I realized that I finally understand what people are talking about. All the books and quotes and magazine articles about embracing life and experiencing all it has finally began to make sense. It felt like everything I had been working for and wishing for were suddenly at my fingertips. It was as if I finally opened my eyes wide enough to realize that while I had been living in the moment for the past two months, my life had unfolded in a way that I could actually see and recognize.
Yesterday, I stepped out of the life that I thought I was supposed to be living and into the life that I created, one step at a time, for years. All of the past mistakes, relationships, jobs, sadnesses and negativities just don't really hold any meaning anymore. It hit me, deep in my soul, that no matter what my past has been like, I am still completely worthy and deserving of this life. And in that moment all I could do was cry, and not because I was sad but because I was so happy and shocked and felt so loved and proud of myself for being brave and for doing it. In some ways it felt like I hit the finish line but realized that the finish line is only the end of one journey and the beginning of another. And after I cried, I took a breath and felt my body relax into the experience of being introduced to the path that is going to be the next chapter of my life.
I have spent years reading and writing articles about all sorts of things from love to relationships to health to spirituality. I have taken classes, gone to school, held workshops and even started my own book. But for the first time in my life, I don't want to write about what's happening in my life. I don't want to document every minute on Facebook or Twitter or write journal entries that dissect every minute and interaction. I just want to live it, talking my talk while I walk my walk. I just want to be in this beautiful life I have found myself in and love every minute and experience true gratitude that I have had the opportunity to meet someone who wants to be here with me, my partner in crime -- embracing the moments with me. I never understood what people were talking about when it came to enjoying life. In some ways, I felt like life was just something to get through.
Up until now I have had a pretty black-and-white attitude about things and couldn't every really understand why or how there could be anything in the middle. But what I am finding is that somewhere in between the black and white is where the enjoyment of life actually is because I am no longer trying to put a name on everything and instead I am just experiencing and living. John Lennon said: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans," and this has been a favorite quote of mine for years, despite having no idea what it actually meant. But today, I read that quote and it hit me so deeply in my heart that again, I cried. I waited for what felt like so long to have something that seemed to fall into my lap when I was least expecting it.
Last night, a close family friend passed away. He left behind his wife and daughter. I took this news a little harder than I thought, not because I was personally especially close to this man, but because I could not bare the thought of how his wife or daughter felt. And in hearing this news, though I was sad, I told myself that it was just another reminder for me (and everyone else) to keep on living my life, as happy and positive as I can, enjoying everything as much as it can be enjoyed. And as much as I am not putting my happiness into the hands of my boyfriend or relationship, I can definitely say that having someone and something that adds so much to my happiness is truly a gift. I am not a religious person and have been becoming increasingly less spiritual these days, but when it comes to what I am experiencing right now, the only word I can use to describe it is "magical." And the things that can happen in life when we allow it to be magical is amazing and mind blowing and cannot even be understood. Sure, there are things to complain about if we really get down to it, and we all have cranky days where we just want to go to bed and shut out the world, but the purpose of life is so much more than that. And even if what I am experiencing only lasts a short time (or the rest of my life), I feel that I'm lucky because now I know I have experienced one of the main reasons that life even exists. Happiness, when authentic, true and deep is by far the most rewarding and breath taking experience there will ever be. And I am going to embrace it, for better or worse -- accepting and appreciating the path that is unfolding.
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