One of the things I have always loved about writing is the way it seems to come from nothing, form into something vague and hazy and finally, transform into something concrete and “real.” When I write, I more often than not, turn off my thinking and just let it go, being whatever it wants to become. Sometimes I start with an idea of what I think it will be and when I am finished, I am often surprised at what comes out. Of course, I sometimes have to force it, but I have discovered that is when I am either not really interested, not not being authentic. When I am being me, really me, it flows and I make no attempt to stop it. I don't worry what people will think and I don't go back and criticize or judge. It is what it is, what it is supposed to be. I feel the most present when I write or take pictures. That is probably why they are two of my most favorite things to do. Travel also puts me in that space.
It is easy to talk about being in the moment, being present and letting things happen as they will, but I know from recent experience, putting it into practice is hard, and at times, can really suck. I have spent a lot of time since the stroke wondering why this happened to me, comparing the “new” me to the pre-stroke me. I have spent a lot of time looking at my life from a sense of loss. I was everywhere but in the moment. I have felt angry, robbed, frustrated, isolated, confused and scared. Strokes are the number two killer world-wide and I remember making the decision to live that day in the hospital. But live for what? What was the reason? I have spent a lot of time wondering why. Surely I did not live to just go through the day-to-day feeling all those negative thoughts, mourning the life that was, unable to accept the life that had become. Searching for the reason drove me crazy, but I was sure there was something that would make sense.
A couple of weeks ago, and coinciding with going off the medication, I watched an conversation between Oprah and Nate Berkus. Nate was talking about how he lost his partner during the tsunami when they were in Sri Lanka and he spent a lot of time wondering why he survived when his partner did not. The thing that really struck me was the idea that so many people, like me, look for the big reason. We want to be able to say “I survived because I was meant to (insert major achievement here)” but the reality is, that every day we spend alive is the reason. I did not live to find a cure for cancer or win a Nobel Prize, but I lived because I did. I made a choice. I lived for myself, to spend time with my sisters, my niece and nephews, to see my sister Ava married. I lived for those little reasons and so many other ones. The other gift I got from the stroke, is the true knowledge that life, all this, is temporary. It is coming to an end. It will end. No matter how much we worry, regret, judge, compare or whatever, it will end. The only thing we really have control over, is how we spend these moments. And, I have learned even more than before, that being in the moment, being present, being open and willing is the key to truly amazing things happening. I would like to say I have it down, but I am learning. I am learning that it is not the destination that is important, it is the journey. It is what we take with us and what we leave behind. It is about going through the things that strip us from who we think we are to revealing who we really are.
These days, I am trying to stay more in the moment, present and open to what wants to be. I am trying to put the writer part of me into the every day places. Not judging, not controlling, but being. Yes, I have my plans, and no, I am not sitting around doing nothing as though waiting to win the lottery. I feel like something big is coming, something just around the next turn. I am not sure what it is, I have a hazy vision that each day, each minute comes a little sharper into focus. I am excited about sailing the unknown waters off the horizon.