How things have changed over time

At the beginning, I wanted so badly to make the world a better place. Instead, I was pushed to focus on making my own life better. Sure, social and environmental issues are important too, but I don’t have the ability to do anything about them, and worrying about it was just making me feel awful all the time, which only hurts me without fixing anything. Better to focus on my own happiness, selfish as that may sound.

There were many other instances where I wanted to go one way, and was advised to go a different way, and sometimes back and forth.

At one point, I needed to take a break from social media, blogs, and people in general, and focus just on myself, without any other voices in the room. I need that from time to time, to be alone with myself for a while, but this time I needed it for much longer.

Then it was the opposite: I was encouraged to spend MORE time with people, put myself out there and interact more with people I don’t know well, as well as spend more time with friends.

Do more, do less, do more again but don’t go overboard. Avoid stressful situations–then go INTO stressful situations and deal with whatever needs dealing with, but be careful to only take on as much as I can handle. And so on, in every aspect of life. I didn’t always understand, but I went along with most of it, because it felt right.

After a couple years, I’m starting to see where all the little nudges have been leading me. I’ve been going in a certain direction for some time, but as things keep shifting around me all the time, I keep having to adjust various things to maintain a balance.

I still struggle with some things, especially things like asking for help when I need it, but I’m slowly getting there.

And all the little things that seemed unrelated to anything else? They all fit together. Like the moment when you realize that all those boring hours of practicing scales have given you the skill needed to play a song, and the seemingly pointless repetition now makes sense. And even though there’s still a long way to go…that moment of understanding, that’s something.

Well, that’s the generalities. In looking at specifics, this is what has stuck with me most:

“Choose life, every day.”

Changing directions

When I was little, I started out with an animistic view of the world. Then I was taught that some things are not alive, and even though plants are living things in a sense, they don’t possess consciousness. At the time, I believed that, because the grownups know what’s what, right? But eventually I ended up defaulting back to animism. I can’t remember when or how that happened, and it’s interesting to me, because no plant or stream or anything ever talked to me, so what was my belief even based on? But it’s the only thing that ever felt right to me.

Whatever else I may be, it’s built on a foundation of animism, and that affects how I interact with the world: Since I believe that everything deserves to be treated with respect, I try to be a good neighbor or a good guest to whoever I’m sharing space with. And when I see places where nature is hurting, I want to help.

That desire, of wanting to make things better somehow, that’s been the most important thing to me for…I guess most of my life. I think it is a good aspiration, but it seems I need to walk a different path.

The way I relate to the world won’t change, I will go on being a good neighbor, but I have to give up this notion of trying to help make things better. I think help is very much needed, but that work is not for me. I have other things I need to be doing; I need to focus on that now, and let this go. There is a keen sense of loss in this, but I want to move forward.

Despite that loss, I’m happy with my new direction. I think I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and really excited to be moving forward. Also a little scared, because while I have a general sense of where I’m going and how I’ll be getting there, I don’t know how I’m supposed to get past all the obstacles in my way. But I’m going for it anyway. I have to.