I don’t know what I thought happiness would be like, but I know I never expected this.
In fact, the idea of happiness seemed so far out of reach that I don’t believe I ever formed a coherent expectation as to what it might actually feel like. For most of my life I was just battered and cooked in a deep fryer of sizzling pain, dripping with the stuff, that I would simply dissociate from life. Nothing ever felt quite real enough. I was certain I was watching a movie of my life from the outside, with a really bad actress playing my part. She never really got into that role.
So. This is what life actually feels like when it’s lived.
I can feel my muscles tense and loosen. I can feel the bones, ligaments and tissue of my body working together to accomplish what none could alone; to constitute me. I feel so alive that every thought, every sensation and every emotion feels almost overpowering it its strength and ferocity. The dips and humps of an ordinary day can have me traveling the entire emotional spectrum, leaving me worn out yet energized. The highs have me so placid, so peaceful, that my soul is enlarged by mere virtue of partaking in the greatness of the world.
And somehow, the same is true of the lows. I feel sensitive sorrow more keenly than I have ever before felt it, but in an indescribably healthy way. Ever time I attempt to put words to it, I can only seem to construct a series of apparent contradictions, and yet, so it is.
In the past, periods of difficulty in my life were dark and confusing. I knew of no laws that governed my life, no larger purpose for me in the world, and no larger purpose for the world in me. Weeks, days or years would pass before I could begin to retrospectively make sense of my circumstances and possibly siphon a lesson to be learned out of the whole mess.
Now there is an unflagging gratitude and awe underpinning my entire life, a gratitude that does not wax and wane with my good fortune and misfortune. Even when the struggles hit– and to be sure, they still do hit– I remain mesmerized by the beauty of it all.
I can’t remember the last time that I felt confusion. When I bare myself in this way, completely vulnerable and ready for each hard knock, my eyes fly open. In the moment of struggle I can see the lessons that I am learning, the lessons yet to be learned in the future, the role of each hardship in shaping who I am, in allowing me to become the person that I hope to become, in affording me the opportunity to rise to the occasion.
Today I may have made a mistake. I’m not sure. I may have said something unkind to someone. Or it may have been exactly what that person needed to hear. I don’t know. Regardless, I don’t think I was as caring as I could have been and that thought saddens me, knocks the wind out of my sails. I’ve had so much experience being unkind to people that I don’t have the desire to ever be unkind to anyone again– especially someone that I care about so deeply.
Although it saddens me, it does so only momentarily. I feel more acutely aware of the consequences of each careless word that issues from my mouth and yet I feel no place for regret. The tapestry of our interwoven relationships is far too exquisite a thing to be marred by the stain of regret. I am maturing in strides– strides that will inevitably clip the toes of others from time to time.
The sadness that I experience nowadays is a soft, pure emotion, unadulterated by confusion, fear, guilt or shame. Those are the poisonous feelings that drag sadness down to misery down to overwhelming grief.
I don’t know how else to describe it except to say that when I’m sad, I’m still happy. I feel light and full of joy, knowing that every moment I am exactly where I am meant to be and fulfilling the purpose I was created for. I am invincible and untouchable with the knowledge that I will be prepared to meet every new challenge thrown at me for the rest of time. I may lose sight of this power in a given moment but that does not make it less real or less present.
So this is life. I’ll take it.