Some of my absolute favorite moments in life have been those that can only be described as awakenings. A switch is flipped and sudden light reveals the details of objects that before were only shapes in shadow. Sometimes the switch is an idea, something purely rational that just never occurred to me before, like when a theorem is proved for the first time. Other times the moment is ethereal and strictly emotional, like that initial fleeting glimpse of mindfulness after I spent months attempting to meditate.
But, sudden awakenings can be painful too, and full of loss. Earlier this year, abruptly realizing my partner didn’t love me anymore. More recently, coming to terms with the fact that despite years of work and recovery, I still have some poor habits that need to be painstakingly improved.
One thing I have learned in life is that the story we tell ourselves is important. Even though the details are subjective and oftentimes inaccurate, I believe collecting events into a coherent narrative is a survival mechanism. It allows us to think we have learned something, and that our futures will be better because of it, that we will approach things more intelligently armed with our prior knowledge.
So, now that 2015 is coming to a close, I am naturally beginning to think about finishing a chapter in my story and moving onto something new. This was precipitated by a feeling in the last few weeks that something was changing inside of me. I felt the rush of anticipation that an enlightenment was unfolding and I was almost giddy to think about the excitement of a new paradigm to explore.
And yet… here I am, completely still. For once, I have no great ideas about where I’ve been and where I’m going, and the concept of a radical switch feels all wrong. I don’t know what 2015 meant for me, and I don’t know that it’s reasonable to believe 2016 will be wildly different. I’m in limbo, and, uncharacteristically, I’m fine with it.
Perhaps the change I felt coming is just a brief respite. I think I’ll visualize it as a great desert, under a sky very softly illuminated by distant stars. The flatness fills the space after half a lifetime spent slogging out of the jungle, and before the strenuous climb up the mountain peaks begins. I’m going to set up camp out here. Attempt to enjoy the peace of only observing, before I inevitably get to work classifying the entities into constellations, and using them to further mythologize this life.