New Chapter

This summer, I moved with my family from one continent to another. And so began a new chapter in my life. I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities, paralyzed, really, by all the different ways in which I can reinvent myself. What will most likely happen, though, is that I will stay put in this exact same persona, doomed to carry on the same cycle of negative thinking. I’m trying so hard for this not to be true. To be a stronger, more emotionally resilient person. Not so dependent on any one person to make me feel loved or special. The love lies within, I keep telling myself. The strength lies within.

But who am I kidding? This is easier said than done. The frequency of moments in which I feel overwhelmed just keeps increasing. The potency of those moments, too, and their ability to just shut me down, completely. I always feel a hair’s length away from falling apart. Why am I like this, I often wonder. God made me this way, so I can’t be all bad, right? God made me sensitive and caring to a fault. There must be some way to be sensitive yet strong. To not lose heart every time I hear the news, or talk to my son about what bothers him, or see my spouse vacillate between moods. I want to find this wellspring of strength within me. I need to find it. Because I don’t think my life can go on this way.

A new chapter means new beginnings and endless possibilities. I hope I find that strength so that I might be the surprise character who emerges from this next chapter, the one who will carry the entire story through to its glorious end.

Walls

I’ve been hearing how satisfying it is to allow oneself to be vulnerable.

Tear down those walls, they say.

Only then will you feel real joy.

Live each day to the fullest, they say,

doing whatever it is you were meant to do.

Follow your passion, they say,

but first figure out what your passion is.

What they don’t really focus on, though,

is how terrifying it is to do any of this.

I built these walls three decades ago.

I know what to expect.

They protect me from feeling too much,

when the news has only death to deliver,

when my spouse says something hurtful that will stay with me for years,

when my boss overlooks me in favor of my colleague.

These walls have kept me from drowning in sorrow.

But they’ve done something else, too.

They’ve removed me,

made me irrelevant.

I’ve spent so long crouched within them, I no longer feel like a part of this world.

Is that what’s happening to all of us?

We’re not just building walls to divide borders,

we’re building walls around our hearts?

I don’t like what’s happening to us.

The isolation,

the fear,

the paralysis,

allowing others to take over,

allowing power and money to take precedence over life.

If tearing down my walls is what I need to do to become more a part of this world,

to the point where the sorrow might overwhelm me,

but it might move me, too,

and push me out of my comfort zone,

then that is exactly what I’m going to do.

The thing is,

it’s terrifying.

I cry every day.

My heart shudders all the time.

I feel more scared than ever.

But I don’t want to hide anymore.

I don’t know why God made me this way,

a hulking mass of depression, anxiety, and pessimism,

but I need to believe that I am who I am

for a reason.

The truth is,

we are living in monstrous times.

The worst monsters are the ones we can’t see,

but that manipulate us anyway.

How can we get rid of something we can’t even see?

Well, we built invisible walls around us, didn’t we?

If we can create invisible forces,

we can certainly learn to get rid of them, too.

If we shed the walls, we shed the chains.

If we shed the chains, we’re free to “fight” the monsters,

the ones we can see, as well as the ones we can’t:

the power that corrupts

and the people who wield that power,

the imbalance where money is more valuable than human lives,

the suffering of those people, who,

even though we can’t see them or they’re just a soundbite in our system,

and they feel so far away,

are still a part of this world,

and a part of us.

Just because the powers-that-be thought it best to divide us into nations, races, and religions,

doesn’t mean we should let them separate us in spirit.

We are all one.

So to hell with it if I cry when I watch the news.

At least then I might actually take action

in ending this misery,

because the truth is,

we live in monstrous times,

but these are the only times we’re going to get.

Let’s turn them into something else,

so that years later,

when our children and grandchildren remember us,

they’ll say,

“Man, those were such wonderful times.

Everyone cared, everyone was an activist.

Everyone did their part in unifying this world,

which is the main reason

we live in such peaceful times

today.”