Sometimes you need to meditate; sometimes you need to cry.
Sometimes your thoughts and feelings will pour out of your fingers, and sometimes they sit in the dark, stalking through shadows while you peer into the eerie pools of shimmery gray water that rest on the stone-cold floor, trying to make sense of the shapes you see.
In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says to never write on a Monday in December. Mondays in December, draped in the dreariness of post-freedom chains, are simply impossible for writing.
So now here I sit at my computer in the still-dark morning of the last Monday in December, allowing the words to catch the tears as they stream, effortlessly, down my cheeks.
Sometimes it’s meditation, and sometimes it’s Yoga practice, and sometimes it’s a salt-bath pool made up of those very same tears. Sometimes its music, and sometimes it’s the latest trend of an adult coloring book.
December, with all of her Mondays, has got me in the spirit of reflection, contemplating the past year and where it’s taken me. All of the battles and hard-fought lessons and, time and time again, returning to the love that makes up the core of it all. Because nine times out of ten the battle is with myself.
Last year, around this time, I set a New Year’s intention. We were in a cabin in the snowy mountains, and someone brought wishing paper. So we wrote our New Year’s wishes on slips of bright red and lit each of them, one by one, allowing the sparkling embers to fly away into the cold, dark unknown.
Because that’s what you do with wishes. You hear their whispers from the center of your heart and then stir them up with your breath, giving them meaning and form to release those whispered wishes into the ether, where a magical spirit of the Universe, the ruler of desire, transforms them into reality.
At least, that’s what I believed.
Last year, I set my New Year’s intention to fall in love. Maybe fall is the wrong word. I didn’t want some kind of damsel swept up by a horseback-riding prince scenario. I was in the process of getting over someone, and I was hurting a lot more than I allowed myself, at the time, to feel.
I came face to face with the reality that you can grow, slowly, bit by bit, one word at a time, in love with someone, and because of something as trivial as timing, it will never work out.
I had to face the cold, harsh reality that sometimes the sparks stemming from my intuition lead me toward certain individuals not because we are going to be together in any of the traditional senses of that notion, but because, for whatever unseen reason, in that moment of time, we were right for each other.
And then, just like my wish, any inkling of the two of us must be burnt to a crisp, and set free to float away into the night sky. The moment will last forever, but the two of us will not.
So I, all high-hopes and fantasies, set my intention. I felt confident that I was ready. I was done with the learning experiences, the pain of unresolved issues working themselves out. I was ready for the real deal. Someone who addresses his own shortcomings and humanity in general, and wants to go deep.
Someone who wants to feel.
At the time, too, I had all the other pieces seemingly in place. My living situation was ideal, and I was about to embark on what I considered my dream career as well. The missing piece to the puzzle seemed to be, quite simply, love.
What I learned, pretty quick, is that no career is perfect and sometimes the devil comes disguised as a fairy tale. To live in what appears to be paradise, you must swap blood with the gruesome, control-gripping monster that reigns over those very lands. And the learning experiences, they never end. Nor do we want them to.
Because as soon as you stop learning, you die.
As soon as you stop growing, you wither.
As soon as you stop carving through the caverns of your soul, trying to find something more, the world, and all of its high hopes and searches for meaning, will simply cease to exist. We will walk around, empty shells under the palm trees of delusion that this picture of paradise is all we have to live for.
Needless to say, this year, my New Year’s intention did not come true. I did not fall in love. What I did do, instead, was begin a Mysore-style Ashtanga practice. I learned to stand with my legs straight. I learned to keep moving to my own internal rhythm. I learned to balance my soul’s work with intelligently-sequenced days of rest.
And most of all, I learned that each of the spiritual disciplines that I engage in, whether it’s Yoga, meditation, reading ancient texts, or journaling, is a means to an end. And as soon as I begin worshiping the act, well, then, I have completely missed the point.
So now I sit, as light dances off white-brick walls and the tips of green begin to show themselves out my window, swaying ever so slightly until I feel the itch of invitation to join in their wind-drawn movement, and realize that I am no further along than the starry-eyed child who daydreamed her way through each and every day.
I am no readier than she for some kind of happily-ever-after ending, nor will I ever be. I have never stopped daydreaming, nor will I ever stop. There is no such thing as ready. There is only right here and now. And right here, and now, I am alive.
I breathe one cold, December breath at a time, and my fingers continue to make their way through raw, wildly beating canals. And that sense of aliveness is the only fairy tale that I will ever need.
This article was published on Rebelle Society.