The three points of change in our lives

There are three different points in our lives when big changes occur, and where we are along the spectrum of these points can alter the way we live significantly.

The what was Before; before you turned 31, before you got that job, before you lost her, before you made all the mistakes you made.

The what comes After; you learn from your mistakes, find new purpose, strive to be better than your past self, grow and grow until you reach that light you have been searching for for years.

The In-Between is what gets you every time; where all that was before haunts you, and all that comes After is still in front of you but seemingly out of reach, no matter how many days and weeks pass, you can see the After but cannot grasp it.

You’re stuck in the In-Between. It hurts here, not like Before,  when all that pain and suffering was fresh. No, it hurts like a stubbed toe, the knowing you should have and could have avoided all those mistakes if you had just been better, paid more attention, not been such a klutz, such a failure, but you didn’t and now you’re stuck here, in this place you don’t want to be, with all this regret.

It’s embarrassing, but you’re lost and confused and no matter how much you know that you should walk towards the After you know is right there around the corner, you’re so damn exhausted and the ground looks so soft and inviting that you may as well lie down and rest, you deserve to rest after all because the Before was so bad.

But you don’t deserve it, far from it, and you know it but rest anyway and you hate yourself and are disgusted. And now the In-Between is all there is, it is who you are, just a failure.

Until one day, for no reason you can pinpoint too, or a multitude of reasons, you wake up and realize that Before was just a part of life and you maybe made a lot of mistakes but it isn’t over because After is just right there around that stupid corner.

And there you are. Around the corner, in the After.

Life isn’t perfect here, but there is a sense of possibility, of good things, of hope.

All it took was a bit of time to get here, but you made it.

Congratulations.

The in-between

This Life flays the Soul

Disparate parts, decaying, lifeless

Strips the Spirit bare of Meaning

I circle through Life again and again

Searching for the Spark of Joy

Spoken of in childhood hopes and scattered dreams

Until Death holds me by the throat

I choke on this thing called Life

For there are no answers here

In the in-between

Only whispered lies and false promises

-Jason B

 

 

What defines us?

What does it mean to be an individual?

Are we to be judged on the color of our skin? the misdeeds of our ancestors? hair? style of dress?

How about the foods we eat or the music we listen to?

What defines us truly?

Most of us go through life merely reacting to whatever our lizard brains throw at us. Consciously attempting to express who we are should be viewed in a positive light as it is our attempt to self reflect and figure out the world around us and who we wish to be within it.

To explore ideas, disassemble them, and come up with new and exciting ways of viewing the world is paramount to a society that wishes to progress and grow. We need to embrace complexity, refrain from putting things and people into little boxes.

But to do all this all of us requires us to be patient. We need to allow people to stumble, to say the wrong thing, to ask uncomfortable questions, to push ourselves to see the person behind the question and not just violently react whenever someone says something we disapprove of.

Social media has created a culture where its cool to start attacking whomever you disagree with without taking a single moment to attempt to understand why a person is saying what they are saying.

We can do better people.

I open at the close; Death and sacrifice

I open at the close.

I still remember the first time I read those words in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and had to work through the idea that Harry was going to die.

I remember feeling disbelief, rage, disbelief again and finally despair.

I had been through so much with Harry, and even though it infuriated me that it had come to this end, I had to accept the outcome because, after all, this wasn’t my story.

Luckily for me Harry ended up surviving, and all my emotional tumult was wasted. Yet even though I have re-read Harry Potter dozens and dozens…and possibly dozens more times since I was a child, every damn time I get to that part in the book I get super emotional. I realized a long time ago that it wasn’t about the fact that Harry would die(seemingly!), but more so that he was ready to make that choice. For someone that young to choose to die so that others would simply have a chance at a safer life was truly a beautiful ending for someone who had given all(albeit for nonsensical reasons due to the fact that half the stuff in Harry Potter is plain stupid, and I say this with deep love for the books!).

Self- sacrifice to something bigger than yourself is a difficult concept for many as we all live in such a narcissistic bubble these days, but it is the foundation of most hero stories and is what draws us to many of the characters in well known books and shows.

The idea of the hero is so pervasive because it touches upon a core issue for many of us, which is to push away that deep biological drive to save ourselves.  The hero does not want to die, but she believes that the responsibility to aid others is paramount and is worth dying for.

I think the world would be a very different place if each of us had something we felt was worth dying for, because it would give a deep sense of purpose to our lives.

In the end, death is the final chapter. Whether hero or villain we all must walk through its doors in the end. The reality of death pervades all life, sweetens it and terrifies the shit out of us.

The question is whether at the end of it all, we can look back upon our lives and know that, at the very least, we tried to stand by our beliefs.  Tried to figure out who we wanted to be, and strove towards those ideals.

And if you are one of those great souls who gives their lives in service to whatever your ideals are, hats off to you.

I will leave off with this little story pulled from the book bird by bird by Anne Lamott, because I believe innocence and the heroic many times go hand and hand.

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Burden

There is a path hidden before me

Layered with dirt and tendrils of ancient Giants

Watchers wrapped in armor of bark and leaf

Standing Sentinel over Time

Waiting, judging, to go left or right

Or straight through the heart of what could be

Choice is a burden we all must carry

Until it grinds us all to dust

-Jason B