When asked, what’s the worst thing that could happen, my face fell, my insides froze. I could not possibly speak, I could not respond. My mind was full of jumbled thoughts and indecipherable emotions. I am intellectually rational enough to know that I have to leave my baggage in the suitcases along the side of the road I travel on, but at the same time, memories don’t disappear, experiences inform future decisions.
I asked the universe to inform me how to deal with today, how to live in the moment; I’ve asked it that a lot this week, because while I’m by nature impulsive, I try to rein that part of myself in and operate in a more scientific mode, to create balance in my life. But human interaction should be more spontaneous, frivolous even, as someone else put it. This morning, my daughter brought me my old journal I used while student teaching; it’s in a skull notebook she always coveted, so I tore out my pages and gave it to her. In reviewing the pages, all that remained were to-do lists and one very profound self-reflection, which I’ll reproduce here.
Late Winter 2012…..
Happy can be scary.
Why you ask?
Well, misery is a feeling with which I am much more familiar.
Scared? Oh hell yes. I am scared. Why, you ask? Because I am happy, that’s why. Because I was so accustomed to misery, unhappiness, pain. Because my life, until recent times, was no fairy tale. Or was it? A fairly nightmare, at least. But, let’s deal with here and now.
I have supportive friends and family, I am pursuing my dreams, and I am healing myself. I go to “work” happy every single day. So for the uninitiated what about being happy would make me, or anyone else, fearful? It’s so simple, I cannot believe you missed it. I’m scared that the happy will leave me. I worry that I will be unable to sustain happiness, I worry that life will become “hard” or mean again. By some people’s standards, my life is pretty hard right now. But by my standard, life is damn good and I do not want it to change. I do not want to feel unfulfilled, unhappy, miserable, sad, fearful anymore. I understand life will have hard, difficult moments like last Friday that might set me back temporarily, but instead of trudging along, I feel like I can bounce up and forward.
Forward. Yes. Pay it forward. Move forward. Do I look back to see what might be chasing me? Not so much. I just try to keep my eyes focused forward while my ears and other senses listen for danger. I am forward focused. My past is what it is. Better yet, it was what it was. I am not limited to or fully defined by whence I came. I can be today defined by who I want to be, what I want to be, how I want to be.
Profound stuff, right? So why was this entry placed in my hands today? Probably because I was looking back to see what was chasing me, and because I have been elated by the developments of my life but also fearful of letting the happiness course through me. When I run, I know the adrenaline and dopamine rush are temporary, and I accept it because I know I can run again. The struggle comes when I cannot run. This is the same, but different. I am happy, but I cannot guarantee this happiness will continue. I am not in charge. I can only enjoy every happy moment and not look too far ahead to see if the happiness will still be with me. Teaching will have happy and unhappy days, and I know that I will live to create another happy day as an educator. Other aspects of my life I may not find it easy to live in the moment, since it’s less about looking forward and more about living in the here and now. Even as I read my notes from almost a year ago, I see that theme; I can look forward and back, but I am uncomfortable, alone, in the now.
There’s always room for personal growth. My self-esteem is growing by leaps and bounds, and it feels great! My friend said as I grow stronger, to remember to stay humble and focus on helping others. I will say, for now, that’s where my focus will be–helping others and letting go of what I cannot foresee. I free myself today to be happy, to live for today in order to make tomorrow even brighter.