“…For maybe you cannot ever really walk away from the things you most want to walk away from.” –All The King’s Men
I’ve been stuck for a while–not in the sense of staying still, of not moving forward, but stuck in memories. Memories of times past, of an era of my life that was so integral to the human being that I have become in the past year. Time really is relentless–when you’re in it, you’re really in it, and you’re going through hell and back and it seems like all time has stopped and the only thing to pull you through the universe is the compass that you have to develop yourself. But when it’s over, it’s over, and suddenly you’re back in real life, given the tools to make it through and time just keeps flying and you want to scream to make it stop but you have to learn how to live it. What I’m trying to say is that sometimes a life event can seem so life-altering and so all-inclusive in the moment(s) that it is impossible to imagine life outside of that period. But time goes on, and then you’re out, and now what? Now you’re stuck with this dream world of times gone by. Do you push the memories away, like it never happened? Or do you curl up into a ball and succumb to the flashbacks, letting them wash over you like a wave that beats gently until you’re driftwood?
I’ve found that what you need most is to try to incorporate what you learned from that experience into your new reality. And that takes more bravery. It’s hard to face up to life after having been in a black hole an alternate universe for a period of time. It takes strength and integrity, a promise that you’ll stay true to the person your experience has shaped you to be. It takes a belief in your ability to face what real life has to offer you. You must recognize the fear–the fear that real life won’t measure up, the fear that real life will drag you down, the fear that life moves too fast, etc. Then instead of stuffing it away, you acknowledge it and carry it with you, all the time still moving forward. Conquering fear is doing, is living. Fear wants to keep you (or me, as of late) stuck, but if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you have to jump back in and embrace time again. Your fear is a part of you, your experiences are a part of you, but they are not you. You are a construct of your own making, susceptible only to that which you allow to creep in through your identity via self-doubt. My memories of an era gone by have haunted me only because I’ve let them do the haunting. I’ve been unsure of my next step, afraid to take the plunge back into really, truly being me. My next step is to use the memories to my advantage, doing them justice, taking what I’ve learned from my experiences and applying that to my life now, rather than letting them dominate this new reality. I’m afraid of letting go of who I used to be, who my Fear still wants me to be, but I must persevere. For I’ll never know what could be if I never try, and living with regrets is not something I want to add to my list. So here’s to new beginnings, to moving forward while still appreciating what has been left behind.