So often in life things turn out far different from how we imagine them to be. Often, what we count on and believe in with all our heart turns out to be far more fragile and unsure than we ever imagined. Sometimes, it only takes a few days or weeks of intense pressure, or a break in familiar routine, for the walls of the temple of our hopes to crack and crumble, debris raining down all around us… leaving us to wonder why the beautiful structure we had built had looked so formidable and strong… yet turned out to have walls as thin and treacherous as an early-winter layer of ice on the pond of our desires. Reality always comes with a twist. Plans we make go up in a puff of dust, because life – more often than not – has other plans. Maybe our path is supposed to be far more challenging. For us to grow and learn from past mistakes we were only vaguely aware we were making. Maybe reality checks need to hit us with the force of a raging tsunami, tearing us up and away by the roots, so we can reawaken to what’s truly important, move forward, and build a better foundation, forever being more aware and appreciative of what we have been blessed with.
A little while back, on June 2nd, 2017, I read the following text underneath one of Brandon Stanton’s photographs for Humans of New York (thanks for your inspiring work Brandon. I hope you don’t mind if I share this here):
“I don’t think I’m going to miss eighth grade. It’s been a tough year. A lot of my friends are struggling with depression and self-harm, and it’s hard for me to watch. I just care about them so much. Growing up is so hard for some people. It’s such a big thing. It’s your foundation, I guess. You’re becoming you. It’s such a big thing and we’re going through it right now. Some of my friends are struggling with loving themselves and loving life. I think they forget that we’re still learning. They think that they’re already who they’re going to be. They think they know the future. And it’s going to be horrible. And they’ll never be able to fix it. But that’s not true because we’re still changing. And we’ll always be changing. Even when we’re old, we’ll be changing.”
As I read the musings of this insightful teenager, what she said struck me as such a profound truth. She talked about herself and her teenage friends, most likely never realizing that, by doing so, she described the human condition in general. Most, if not all of us, face similar existential questions and troubles no matter our background or age. Many of us are struggling with loving ourselves and loving life. And yes, we’re all continuously changing. Life and change are one. Irrevocably. We spend our entire lives becoming who we really are… learning, un-learning, growing, evolving with each experience we make throughout our turbulent life journey. There is nothing to do but to face those waves as they crash over our heads. Some breakers will pummel the crap out of us. They’ll push us down like a bully in a kid’s swimming pool until we can barely catch our breath. Other rollers will lift us up and carry us further than we ever imagined.