This is happening – yes, this, writing, blogging, settling into my own space. Let’s try this again.
Now I live on the other side of the world, back in a place which has always felt more like home than home, where I step out of my door each morning and fall in love all over again just with the way the air smells. I’m back in academia, and wonder why I ever left. Many a time over the last 10 years, I’ve thought about how wonderful it would be to be back in ‘school’ but there was a time this seemed an impossible thing to think about. But it’s happened, it’s happening and I’m exactly where I’d been dreaming-thinking-imagining I’d be for years, doing something that makes my heart sing a little louder each day and my skin prickle from that loveliness of feeling right where you need to be.
I’d been looking back on some of my old posts, especially the ones about putting your life back together. They sound so dramatic now, so angst-ridden, so very laden with that heaviness of wading through treacle. It’s amazing to me now to think back on how difficult it had seemed just to reconnect with people, learn to rest, go for a coffee, live in a space that wasn’t defined by fear all the time. It now seems like that was a different girl, from a different life in another place. When I talk about it to new friends now, it feels only like it’s a story I’m telling, like it didn’t really all happen – like there wasn’t really a time where it was a struggle just to be awake and I got through each day only because I took Xanax to sleep through it.
There is something magical about being physically far away, to meet people who know nothing of who you were before or what you had done, who look at you and just see you. It is a relief to be able to actually completely erase 12 unhappy years and start again. The people I have met here are kind and energetic and passionate. They’re not interested in history, but in where you’re headed, what you’re doing, who you want to be. They are people who want to change the world – even if it’s only a little bit at a time; who are excited about learning and who know that there will probably never be a way to learn everything there is to learn in the world, but who sure as damn hell are going to try anyway! It is wonderful to be around people who, without trying, make you remember all that you do well and all that makes you a not-altogether awful person. It is incredible for me to rediscover what it means to be in a place where I don’t feel guilty and ashamed all the time.
There was a time where I wouldn’t have allowed myself to think of living life any other way because that seemed the only right way, because I was told repeatedly that the rest of the world was a terrible selfish place headed only towards All Bad Things. But I’ve been meeting all these new people who have made me rethink all that – there is kindness and goodness everywhere, manifested in so many different ways. I wonder now how I could have slid into a place where I felt so sad, so disempowered for so long – and how I could have believed that that was supposed to be good for me, the only right way. I wonder how it is that all that I have now – this space, the surprising ways I find connection with people everywhere, the genuine heart-filled actions and conversations I encounter with people – could be considered a bad thing; how I could have believed that this was something I should strive not to be a part of because it was ultimately unhelpful and negative.
I have relearnt a kind of effortlessness in living – feeling good and at peace with yourself and your world doesn’t need to be angst-driven, or filled with effort. It should just be there; it can just be there. Extending and receiving kindness, living rightfully and joyfully feels light and spontaneous and grounded, not an obligation or a way of measuring ‘progress’ or something that’s always slightly shadowed by guilt and worry – that you’re not doing enough, that it isn’t the ‘right’ way, that you might have done something wrong. It is stepping out in the morning with that proverbial bounce in your step, breathing in the air of a new morning, and remembering all over again how grateful you just to be here. Everything else that follows – being effective, helpful, positive, joyful, kind, energetic – follows without you even thinking of it.
Three years after starting this blog, I think I’m finally, finally understanding what “effortless” really means.