How many of the stories that we tell ourselves are actually true? How many stories do we create and believe and preach, steering ourselves tragically into self-made pitfalls and locking ourselves in prisons we truly believe we can’t escape from?
There’s more than one side to every story.
We spend our days torn between the past and the future, as the present slips through our fingers. Ironically that present was the future, and now it’s the past.
How much of who we are in this very moment is residue from failures of yesterdays and defences built for the troubles of looming tomorrows?
Life is lived between the lines of today, for the individual details of this fleeting moment. We are all living in the most unique moment in time, that moment when the armies of the past and the armies of the future meet. We live in that tiny space between, untouched by the pains of a lifetime of past struggles and the uncertainty of an eternity ahead of us.
So why do we insist on ruining the only moment in time we are able to immerse ourselves in? The only moment of time we can actually control? The only moment in time we can actually enjoy?
“I’m better at being somebody else than being myself,” I whispered, staring deeply into the eyes of a stranger I didn’t know. A stranger I didn’t want to know. There was pain in those eyes, uncertainty and an innocent violence brewing. A civil war was raging inside his head, unheard by the rest of the world around him, yet deadlier than the pandemic that was washing across the real world.
I relaxed my white-knuckled grip from the sink and dropped my gaze from the mirror in shame.
For the better part of my existence I’d been running away from myself, content to let the impatient society we’d created distract my brain and numb my senses. Settling for temporary fixes, building destructive habits cloaked in comfort and reassurance, expanding the empire inside my head into new uncharted areas and neglecting the foundations of my very existence. I was a castle of cold stone, with walls that nothing could overcome, yet it was nothing but an imaginary metaphor. I was held up by sand and ashes, regret and ignorance, forgotten truths and forged facts.
I spent my free time pretending, and my tied-up time dreaming. My energy was directed toward convincing myself that I was making progress, trying to dilute the fact that I was not doing what needed to be done to make that progress. I was afraid of becoming who I wanted to become. But I would never fool myself. Not ever.
Yet, with dawn came opportunity. It knocked on the door, soft and cynical, informing the world to stay home. To suffer in peace. In silence.
So I spent everyday staring into that mirror, forced to face myself. Forced to face what time had done to my world. The lines and wrinkles about my eyes and mouth spoke of troubles I had buried years ago. My lips, pressed into a taut line, spoke louder than any words I had said before. And my eyes were windows, tinted with pride, yet inside the battlefield was replaying itself again and again. The circle of life was playing a murderous tune and my emotions were its puppets.
Every day I studied my thoughts and patterns. I took notes on my thoughts and actions, took note of my reactions. Every day I took up sword and spear and battled, without option of retreat and no longer having the ability to overlook the madness of my brain. Slowly civilization returned, bringing back the trade of healthy thoughts, the sharpening of a clear mind and the brandishing of a lost confidence.
And now, studying myself intently, I see the peace in my eyes. The confidence in my chin, and a glow in my skin. The empire inside my head is thriving, building again, sound structures and habits on which more can be built upon. The foundations are pure, unadulterated by lies, and founded in reason and order and experiences.
With a new dawn came opportunity. It spoke of a world void of pandemics and pain and suffering. A world of tattered economies and poverty, but a world of raw beauty and filled with people with genuine passion and happiness. A world that wasn’t taken for granted, a world that swore it had changed for the better.
But life is a circle, lessons are learned and unlearned, and time would see my mind begin to stir and shuffle once more. Time would see the peace I had fought for replaced by panic.
Panic for lack of progress. Panic for lack of understanding. Panic for lack of conflict.
And I will meet that stranger again. I will stare unwillingly into his eyes and see myself. I will realize I’m better at being somebody else than being myself . . .