the subjective perspective of an analytical optimist

The Beauty of Waking Up

In the face of deep and heavy questions, I breathe deeply and close my eyes. Whomever I’m with will often repeat their question, reword it in simpler terms. That’s not what I need. I hear the question and I understand the format, the context, the implications. Yet…the answers do not come readily; they don’t arrive in a neat and orderly succession as young ducklings trailing behind their proud mother. Rather, everything hits me all at once, lunging forcefully into my frontal lobe. Everything I’ve ever known and everything I have ever felt cushions that piece of myself that you are begging me to reveal.

Heaps of chaos and mental secretions fall to my feet and quickly build up around me. And I begin fanatically digging and sorting.

1, 2, 3…

As you anticipate my answer, anxiety builds. I am attempting to trudge through the madness of my mind as quickly as possible. I am trying to gather the clever and relevant bits, without dragging along the aimless ramblings. My truth is buried, not obvious. I need for you to have patience with me. It is here, somewhere. I swear.

The answers, my truth, that intricate map stitched onto my heart that plots out my destiny. Everything is within me, waiting to be uncovered and discovered and shared with the world. Yet, there is so much to sift through.

There are so many questions lately, from others and from myself. There are so many new ideas. So many things to be studied, explored, and created. There has been a huge influx of incredible people into my life these past few months, each of whom is challenging me to be braver, stronger, more open, and more courageous in the face of risk. It has been such a gift. Yet, it has also been monumentally challenging.

Having transitioned quickly from a lifelong self-starter, happy to move at her own pace, to a young woman with multiple huge goals and over a dozen people holding me accountable, the digging and sorting have become ceaseless tasks. I build up and then stomp out the sand castles of my mind, fervently searching for the treasure within. I build, I destroy, I question, I repeat.

So much I need to do…

So many people to follow up with…

So many projects I feel inspired to pursue…

So many places I fall short…

So many things I’ve failed to acknowledge myself for…

There is so much to ponder and so much to pick apart. Too much, perhaps. I don’t quite know where to begin. Or when to stop. I’m not sure I can keep up with my own mind; I can’t shovel away the ever-falling snow quickly enough to comprehend the presumably firm foundation which supports it.

I’m quickly learning the difficulties of being an over-achiever when you have so many people enmeshed in your process and tracking your every move. It’s easier to just paint a picture than to explain beforehand WHY that particular scene must be translated from your feverish imagination to the page. I’m not convinced that everything has a clear-cut reasoning. Often, something just feels right–and that’s all there is to it.

This has been troubling me a bit lately. How can I show up fully? How can I bring All That I Am and All That I Am Working On to the table? Where can I find the confidence and clarity to share what I’m doing? What am I doing? How can I bypass the stressful process of finding my answers? How can I lock myself into a state of flow when a dozen tasks are persistently banging at my door?

Because that stress permeates. My not being able to instantly pinpoint an answer often translates to: I don’t have an answer. Which is further dissected to: I have no idea what I am doing: with this goal, this project, my life. Which then lends itself to: Who do you think you are? What make you think you’re capable of such lofty feats?

I can be not-so-nice to myself, sometimes.

I am in a good place right now, hands-down the best life situation to date. My day-to-day life excites me to immeasurable degrees. I’m smart, driven, kind, and well-connected. A lifetime of hard work has led me to today and I have the world at my fingertips. There are a million incredible things I could do right now, if only I had the courage to say Yes, to follow through. But I allow myself to entertain thoughts of inadequacy. It’s often a daily struggle.

Though I thrive in solitude, my strength is bolstered by the support of those who dream my dreams and believe the same concepts that bring meaning into my life. Yet, I’ve gotten into the habit of beating myself up over small things. When you strive for perfection, the slightest deviation can be reason for reproach. I am working to shift toward acceptance of best efforts and appreciation of my slow-to-arise brilliance. Once more, this requires a mindful effort.

I believe Life sends us messages. I was rear-ended by an uninsured driver last week. Someone I haven’t spoken to in years contacted me asking for forgiveness. The labradoodle I’m dog-sitting shit on the carpet in front of me. What does it all mean? I’ve concluded that each was an opportunity to stop, relax into the moment, and recognize how much credit I owe myself.

A woman slammed into my car and I treated her with the kindness I would someone who had bought me flowers or lost their dog. Someone who was once a cruel and manipulative friend received my forgiveness and the sincerest well-wishes for their future. I knelt down and had a conversation with the dog–I apologized for not paying enough attention to him, for not recognizing his needs (even though I’m pretty sure he’s just dense).

Life pointed out to me how selflessly I love those around me; yet, it also highlighted that fact that I do not show myself that same level of compassion nor forgiveness. I have been well-aware of this for months, if not years. Self-love is my core personal project and my intention at the start of nearly every meditation. Something that, even so, does not receive quite enough attention.

For the past few months, the first thing I’ve done upon waking is proclaim in my most cheerful voice: Good morning, beautiful new day!

It is cheesy, I know. But it makes me smile. It wakes me up. It make me feel alive, and grateful for the air filling my lungs and the crisp fall air slipping in through my open window. I begin each day with joy, love, acceptance, and anticipation. Today will be the day that I release self-criticism. That I read in the park instead of listening to my friend rant about her stupid ex-boyfriend. That I assert myself and ask for what I want. That I think only loving thoughts about myself.

I am still waiting for that day to arrive. A day filled with self-love and free of harsh criticism and belittlement. A day when the answers don’t come, and I can accept that. A day when Good morning, beautiful day! is my 24 hour mantra, as opposed to simply the act of crawling out of bed with joy in my heart.

Each morning feels fresh and new. Each moment is the same, really. In every second of every day, we have the option to let go of the last moment and embrace the next. A continuous cycle of new beginnings, now and evermore. I forget that, throughout the day.

I wake up in awe of my expansion and contractions of my chest. I recognize myself as the universe personified, a universe in awe of its own unique beauty. It’s a wondrous experience–that early-morning stretch of post-meditative contentment. Before my ideas are challenged and my mind is ransacked. Before I have the opportunity to shove myself onto the back-burner as I toil away in service to someone else. Before it slips my mind that: This life is perfection.   

I love mornings. I feel raw and unnerved, yet ready. Though I have done nothing to prepare, I am ready to face the day and tackle new challenges. Despite my un-brushed teeth and empty stomach, I feel beautiful and excited and eager to take on the world. I am ready for novelty, adventure, and love as soon as the gentle light begins to cascades over my face and that first small smile creeps across my face.

I wonder if I could live in a world of perpetual waking, constant opportunities in which to open my eyes and see the world through a new lens. I wonder I could achieve that. To be present, truly and consistently. Perhaps put all my big projects away for a few hours and ignore the questions piling up on my doorstep, and instead chase down the rising sun. To capture the brightness and the light in a small vile, to hang it around my neck so it remains close to my heart always. Perhaps, then, the continuation of the day would be less daunting. Perhaps if I could simply recall the feeling of seeing the world anew, after hours and hours away, I could appreciate precisely where I am, who I am.

I think that if I could carry the soft morning rays and the lightly caressing breeze with me–if I could focus on the delicate beauty and external serenity–I think my nerves could remain steady, I think that the jumbled mess of my head would make far more sense. Or I would care less that it lack any hint of rhyme or reason. Nothing would matter much at all, because I am alive and I am loved and who I am will always be enough.

I feel as if each day, I move closer. I carry the desired feelings longer. I hope–and imagine–that, at this rate, one day I will arrive. One beautiful day, I will wake up and never fall asleep again.

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