But if we sit with the discomfort, there can truly be a lesson within the pain. When things are in disarray, there’s actually something there that the rest of the world around us can see, but we are so blind to. It’s an opportunity. A chance to do things how we want. A chance to take control of the wheel. A chance to write the next part of our narrative, however we see fit.
When I first arrived in Massachusetts after leaving Denver, the place I called home for almost three years, an old friend I stayed with told me they were envious of my situation.
“You literally have the world at your fingertips,” Old Friend said as we warmed our feet by the fireplace. “You have nothing holding you back, telling you where to go or how long to be there. You have endless options ahead of you.”
And they were right, but the grass is always greener. I was too busy focusing on the lawn of which I used to have that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me. Even when I told myself, I can rewrite the narrative whenever I want, I still repeated the same patterns and sank lower into the white noise of distraction to dig myself out instead of just building a ladder with the tools I had.
Fast forward to laying in my bed on the third morning of living in my new apartment. It’s a Saturday in April. I roll over on my side and blindly reach for my glasses, place them on the bridge of my nose, and grab my phone to check the time. 3:41 AM. My eyes are heavy. I can feel the bags beneath them swelling from lack of sleep. My body is exhausted, but my mind is already three cups of coffee deep. I put my phone back on the side table and extend my arm out towards the other side of the bed in search of my dog, Luna. She exhales a deep, prolonged whimper I know is saying, “Good morning, and I love you.”
I try to allow myself to fall back asleep, but my mind continues to say otherwise. I take it slow. I stand up and start my morning ritual to begin my day. My knees are aching and can feel the joints in my ankles wondering why they couldn’t have gotten even just another hour of rest.
“Just take it slow,” I say to my body out loud. My body responds with my feet dragging one in front of the other towards the kitchen. I pour myself a cup of ice coffee. I grab Luna’s leash. I head out the door for our morning walk.
What am I doing? This looks the same as it always has. Nothing has changed. This is the saga you wrote a book about, the monotony of isolation while the sloth of loneliness creeps along the same tree as it does every day.
For the first time in months, I wasn’t distracted. I took enough time within the tiredness to slow my body down and see that old habits, in fact, die hard. I had been searching for a sense of freedom, stability, to find that solid ground. And here I was, in a new town in my new apartment with my new life staring blankly at me in the reflection of the bathroom mirror while the rest of the world was still fast asleep.
What did I want it to look like?
As the author of my life, what story did I want to write?
I chose that morning to rewrite the narrative. I could see the blank canvas and I was ready to splatter the paint against it. We are all our own painters, artists, authors, narrators towards our lives. And no matter if there is some dramatic change that is altering the course of your life, or a moment with yourself in the mirror, there is always time to regain the freedom and autonomy of your story back. It just requires taking the first step by being silent, and recognizing the opportunity that’s in front of you.
Step outside of yourself. Ask yourself what you want. Question the things that you desire to be different and give yourself the permission to BE different. What’s the worst case scenario? You don’t like it? So you tuck it away into your filing cabinet of “Things I Tried and Won’t Do Again” and you try something else to finally see what sticks.
I built my ladder, and coated it with a bright, shimmering gold finish. I walked up those steps effortlessly and with grace, I took my first step out into the light and walked towards change. I walked towards my story. I walked towards freedom. And my gosh, was it beautiful. Take that Dr. Watson.