“Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings, observe how endings become beginnings.”
Tao Te Ching – 16th verse
2013 was a dirt path winding, barely visible, crooked through the woods. Step by step I ventured further into fragile self-awareness and awe drenched mindfulness. I tore my way past difficult terrain and stood broad even after my feet caught hold of sycamore roots. I dodged the falling flecks of granite and leering boulders; obstructions sent to lead me astray. I climbed until I reached the inevitable descent. I hit rock bottom to soak my feet in the icy stream and continued onward. I reached each peak with fiery grace and fury. Stopping in the earthly silence to meditate on my travel.
When I reflect on the year behind I see mountains; I see a scared little girl trapped inside her own delusions. I see her reach out from swelling, unforgiving mother nature and latch on to therapeutic creativity. I see someone who found the glitter in the black. Who grasped the opportunity to rebuild from ashes and lit herself like the phoenix. She has created beginnings from endings. She is an enigma.
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you will never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
Sometimes I “people watch” when I’m waiting. In lines at the supermarket or inside the plastic cages built at bus stops. I imagine their life in flashes. A memory of a college party, an explosive breakup, the birth of their daughter, sledding down a slope on a picnic table, and the resulted pain of broken bones. I like to imagine their sorrows and their happiness. Their ups and downs.
It exercises my empathy and broadens my perspective. It reminds me that we are all carrying the weight of the world; the baggage of our past. The world I live in is woven by my unique experiences. Every world is different. Every world is important.
Seems like lists are all the hype these days. Sites like Buzzfeed and Cracked are notorious for serving a list driven audience. They thrive in it. I thought I’d latch on to the rear end of their bandwagon and create a list of my own.
Ten of the Things I Enjoy
Nighttime snacks. Specifically the ones involving cheese. If we’re aiming for the ultimate specificity, something with both cheese and crunch.
The hidden track on Jagged Little Pill.
Things shaped like fire hydrants and wooden replicas of exotic animals. I’m not sure why I lumped these together. Think of it as a bonus.
The first colon clearing sip of coffee in the morning.
Finding money in an old birthday card or coat pocket. Finding money.
Binging sci-fi TV shows and preparing the essential skill sets I will need as a future space pirate.
My college had an excuse-to-binge-drink-fest every year near the end of the spring semester. I’m not going to lie and say I never partook in the genre of beer related gluttony that induces a double vision haze, but it is certainly not one of my favorite things. So when the festival of drunk college student debauchery unfolded, I would spend my time picking up cans for extra cash and making sure all of my friends made it home safe.
Senior year, 4:00 AM. My can collecting spree guided me to a development of student apartments in close proximity to the college. I notice someone laying face-down in the grass in the distance. I walk closer to investigate. It’s one of my closest friends, and he appears to have drank enough to foster a deep infatuation of the cold nighttime grass. I attempt to pick him up, drag him to my car, and somehow manage to lift him into my passenger’s seat. All the while he kept repeating the same thing: “Erica, this was the best night ever. You’re the best friend ever. YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND.” He seemed stuck in a repetitive thought loop resulting in an epiphany regarding our friendship. This continued the entire ride home.
He eventually sobered up and years later we recorded this together. He’s quite brilliant at keys, and he says I can handle a microphone. It’s a cover of a (mutual) favorite song by a (mutual) favorite band. I give you Destiny by Zero 7.