Life And Your Place In It

Standing in the hospital ward on my call last night, waiting for the round to begin and thinking of all the things I need to get done I suddenly hear a scream in the last cubicle and the nurses get up to go look. I run too. It’s a mother with her baby who stopped breathing. His little body lying there, emaciated and helpless, is making the occasional gasp, but he is no longer breathing. 

He was HIV positive, having gotten it from his mother at birth and had pneumonia and malnutrition. The Doctors had known beforehand he would most likely not pull through and if something like this happened, he was not for resuscitation. 

We walked with his slowly deteriorating body to the resuscitation room while bagging him for a while and calling the mother in to say her last goodbyes. But she wasn’t crying. She carried on as though it didn’t matter to her. We stood outside with sad faces. I had never seen a baby die right in front of me. 

I thought about his short life ending, I thought about a little girl in another cubicle with xeroderma pigmentosum – severe skin lesions covering her entire body and face leaving her disfigured and weak for the remainder of her life and likely to develop cancer from them. I thought about the abandoned premature babies in another ward. Then I wondered… Why??? Would that little girl who never spoke and had her skin destroyed ever feel like she belonged somewhere and meant something. Both her parents were deceased. No one was there to hold her or build her up or take care of her broken heart. Would those abandoned babies ever feel like they had a place in this world? Would that mother who was HIV positive and didn’t take enough precautions to prevent this ever value life enough? How did life become so neglected. How did we stop realising how fragile life is?

I walked back to the student’s lounge to sit for a while and on my way watched other younger students with their mint green scrubs, pink stethoscopes and bleached hair walk past and how preoccupied they were with the way they looked and appeared to the world and it all suddenly seemed so ridiculous. All this obsession and hype about futile things. “Build a booty, go vegan, gym and trim, have the nice clothes, spend money on crap you don’t need with money you don’t have and cry about and worry about self-image and take a billion selfies to make yourself feel better.” I read these articles flooding Facebook about women being admired for no longer shaving their legs and being overweight and promoting it as if they suddenly made a change in the world. I read about a woman suffering from anxiety, posting a billion selfies with make-up galore, hair done, pouting and her hand always posed in this same position next to her face and then sharing one photo of her tear-streaked face after an anxiety attack to make people see what anxiety really looks like, yet she’d never stop posting her beautiful selfies and I wonder, why are we so insecure about the stupidest of things?

Yeah, I guess I am playing the “there are less priviledged people than you” card.  But I am playing it because people get so bogged up in their own little new-age worldly problems and blast it out of the box. People become oblivious to real pain. You are beautiful and you are so damn lucky. You need to stop trying to convince the world of it. You probably have a beautiful heart but ask yourself what you’re dedicating your heart and life too. You feel insecure and like you fit in nowhere and mean nothing to the world and the only way you’d mean something is if you stepped up to mediocre world views of what you ought to look like and care about; the trivial and superficial stuff. 

Have you ever looked out the window of an airplane after takeoff? Watched people become matchstick size, then grain-of-rice-size, then suddenly disappear altogether in their thumbnail cars on the highway?

You watch, nose pressed to the Plexiglas, your breath leaving a fog on the pane. You watch, imagining the hundreds, the thousands, the millions of bodies moving around their homes, driving on busy streets, cooking breakfast on their stoves, running with their dogs through the park.

And you wonder where you fit.

You think about all the people you haven’t met, and maybe never will. You think about the emotions, the unspoken words, the connections you might not get the chance to make. You think of all the cars and planes and trains and busses and sidewalks and highways, one flurry of constant motion. Never still. And suddenly you feel so damn small. Suddenly, the world seems terrifying and your existence is a dot on the map. Do you even have a purpose? Would it matter if you disappeared, faded away, left this earth altogether? Would anyone know you were gone? Does anyone see or hear or feel your pain right now?

And like clockwork, you’re in your own head, filling it to the brim with negative thoughts. It’s as if you’ve realized, for the first time, that life doesn’t stop just because you’ve lost someone you love, because your heart is broken, because you’re lonely or tired or afraid or sad. But you convince yourself the world doesn’t stop because you don’t matter. And that’s so far from the truth.

The truth is, the world doesn’t pause. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t drastically change because you’re hurting. But that doesn’t mean who you are or what you’re experiencing doesn’t matter.

The truth is, your emotions are just teardrops in a giant freaking ocean. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t making a ripple if you choose too. That doesn’t mean you can’t touch other people, connect, make that ripple become a wave. That doesn’t mean your pain is any less valid than the people around you, or that your teardrops don’t carry their own volume and weight. That doesn’t mean your heartache is not as real, or that you need to lessen yourself to let others express their burdens.

Your agony, your guilt, your frustration, your failure, your pain—those are real and valid and matter. You are real and valid and matter. Don’t let the world and your insecurity tell you otherwise.

Yes, you are tiny, but even the tiniest of pieces are significant. Even the tiniest pieces can make an impact, can have a voice, can create change, can affect the people and things around them and cause others to stand up.

Even the tiniest can make the whole.

Maybe what you’re experiencing right now feels devastating. Maybe your whole world is crashing in, and it seems like no one is listening. You have to understand, first, that the world owes you nothing and won’t always give you the love and support you need, but that doesn’t mean what you’re feeling is unimportant.

Your pain might not be the end of the world, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like the end of your world. And that doesn’t mean people don’t care. That doesn’t mean your existence is meaningless. 

If you think about the airplane, watching people and houses and cars and roads all fading from your window, it’s sort of a metaphor for life. When we’re so zoomed out, it seems like all of us blur together. It seems like all of our experiences are pointless and impermanent, shuffling through until one day it all ceases. But when you focus in, you see that each person is crucial—the mother, the daughter, the brother, the cousin, the school teacher, the doctor, the businessman, the mailperson, the secretary, the sick, the weak, the lonely, the poor… When you focus in, you see how each person directly effects those around him or her, how each of us has a purpose, a role, a duty, an importance. When you focus in, you see that we are actually so big, so capable, so able to make a change in the lives we touch. And when our little voices speak, they blend with others, creating a glorious, unified sound.

But that all started with one.

So when the world and your tired mind tries to tell you you’re too tiny, when life tries to shuffle away your pain, when people try to diminish your feelings, when you look at the earth from an airplane and just feel so damn small—remember that you matter. To people around you. To the causes you believe in and the things you stand for. To the changes you have, and will continue to make if you choose to make them. To the world, in little, yet significant ways. You may be small, but small does not equal weak. Small does not equal unimportant. Small does not equal purposeless. 

So step forward, open your mouth, raise your voice, speak your truth, feel your emotions. Let go of all the futility and superficiality. Whatever you’re going through won’t last forever, and you won’t have to go through it alone. You matter. You are heard. You are loved. So love others, make others feel heard, make others feel worthy and less alone.



You Are Not Broken, You’re Healing

For every time they tell you to take a step back, move forward. And, stop. Walk in circles. Do it all at once. Don’t constrict your limbs. Collapse if you must. Break down. Let yourself go.

Write.

Re-write. Scribble a few pages away. Hit the backspace rather generously, and start again. Pen down memories you want to re-live, moments you felt you could wrap nature in your arms and focus your cluttered mind on all things beautiful; the times you swam into the ocean despite your sea- sickness, letting the saltiness engulf your tongue and numb your taste buds, and in the numbness you opened your eyes and stretched your arms, letting your other senses feel the depth of the universe, as if in that moment, you lived.

Lived not just as a plus one to breathing, but invited yourself to explore spaces that you thought would make you claustrophobic. And, they probably did, but you also yearned the life you’ve dreaded for so long.

Cry.

Weep and wail as if it detoxifies your body. Tears make you beautiful, because beyond that ache, you’ve learnt to be kind. Take out some ice cubes and clench it in your palms. Be kind to yourself as they melt away, reminding you how your state of being is so fragile and fluid. You don’t have to preserve them in the freezer.

Feel.

The void. The empty spaces that weren’t meant to be. Live the silence. Be as helpless as you want to. Pick up the broken shards of your being and guard yourself against your own invasions. Stop trying to be the infinite. Be the multiple once. Let yourself grow, exponentially and finitely. Measure how long you take to bloom.

Love.

The stench of ugliness. The crooked staircase, and the dim-light hallways, and the scratch on the door – everything that doesn’t fall into symmetry – dark block colors, lacking shades and tones. Stretch your arms to the night sky without stars. Embrace the galaxies for what they can’t contain. Listen to the vulnerabilities – the ones you’re taught to neatly wrap up in beautiful looking packages for display. Lay it bare open.

You’re not broken. You’re healing.


When Life Screws You Over

We’ve all felt like that… That life has screwed us over countless times and we raise our fists at it and scream until our throats are raw but to no avail. Anger rages, yet life just keeps on screwing us over. Am I right? Well, I guess it depends on your perception of the definition of being screwed over. Something happened which was the last thing you ever expected. Something happened which left you dumbfounded and angry and robbed. Something bad happened to a something that was supposed to turn out good and in which you just intended for good. You just wanted to be happy. Hell, not even happy. Perhaps just okay. 

There’s this wise old saying some people use to shrug life’s robbery off; “Shit happens.” The world is made of a butterfly effect and therefore is the most unpredicatable chaos your heart and mind could ever behold. With the flap of a wing and a chain reaction of events, while you are so blissfully unaware and going about your business, the chain suddenly flows through you and everything in your life changes. Perhaps you develop depression or some other terrible illness. Perhaps someone you love is lost to death. Perhaps you lose your job or your business crumbles. Perhaps, no matter how hard you try to climb that ladder to reach your goals, every step is broken and you’re the furthest place from where you wanted to be right now. Who do we blame then? Ourselves? The people around us? Your boss? God? The guy who broke you? Anything… Anybody?!? Yeah. We do. We do that just because we are trying to find peace and we think we can find it if we pinned down the cause and found justice. So we find justice by hurting ourselves, becoming so cautious of everything in life, by being hurtful towards others because suddenly, everyone seems like a terrible person deep down. I’ve been down this road. I’ve hurt myself and screamed at God and my parents for having depression develop and spin my life out of control. I’ve screamed at God some more because he took the most beautiful woman in the world who was all I had – my mom. I’ve started glaring with anger at every guy I see because my body was misused for sex while I thought I was loved and respected. If you read my last post you may have deduced that. My long time ago ex made contact with me and asked if we could have sex again but no relationship. Just sex. Followed by three smiley faces. Meanwhile, here I was missing him over the months. Stupid me right? I hate him, I hate myself… I don’t know who to hate… There’s so much more on this list of life that can immensely piss me off right now and I can choose to think about it and play the victim. But I don’t. I’ve come to accept this butterfly effect of chaos none of us are resistant too.

The thing is, we get screwed over because we all screw each other over and we live in this broken and fallen world where people lose their minds in fear and pain and they will do whatever it takes to not be at risk of loss. Even if it means hurting others and sending a ripple effect down their lives. Illness infiltrates our bodies because of this fragility we were created with and the mere impact the environment has on our genetics. Death has no predilection for anyone. We ask, “Why me?” But really, why not you? Why should you be spared and not another kind and caring soul who never harmed anyone? So, we don’t get to ask “Why me?” 

What we have to realise is, we are not in control of what life deals us with. We are only in control of what we are going to deal life with. What are you going to do to stop a ripple effect on others? Are you going stop all the crap you get up too? Because if we admit it, we’re all up to some or other form of crap that sometimes we just burn ourselves. No, depression or any other illness was not your choice but staying down was. Did you really fight as hard as you could every single time it hit? I know some days I haven’t and instead, I just let the waves of it carry me and ended up hurting myself and my own life more. Yes, I got used for sex, but after strike 3 you’d think I would stop letting it happen. Yes, my mom died, but after throwing my fists at God for three years and rejecting my spirituality, my own soul suffered the consequences. I didn’t always choose the right thing to do when I could’ve. Sometimes we are in such a turmoil in our hearts that we simply don’t have the capacity in that moment to be superwoman/superman. We don’t have the capacity to see beyond our pain. We’re stuck in a big black hole we fell down in and we can’t see the beautiful sun on the outside of it so we just decide to bury ourselves in that hole. Maybe that’s why life screws us over more than once.

I realised today that it took my stubborn heart several times at failing the same test before it got the message and stopped digging deeper into a hole it already fell down in, and so, maybe being screwed over isn’t such a terrible thing. Eventually you realise that nothing will change unless you change how you will react to a screw over. I had to get to a point where I stopped allowing the effects of depression to dictate my life and give up and lose all hope. I had to keep fighting in every which way I can because eventually, you do find a way out of it. I had to take my treatments and go to my therapy and retry new therapy and go to gym and force myself along in every area of my life I was supposed to and that my mind needed me too. I had to stop letting myself go into relationships in which I start caring too easily, trusting each and every word, instead of watching their actions, so that finally, I wouldn’t allow my body to be misused and disrespected. I had to take all that screwing over and instead of relying on my desperation for others to love me, learn to love myself. I also had to realise that not every human being is representative of other human beings who hurt me and so, I deserve to give them grace and be kind. But I also had to learn how to put up boundaries. I had to learn that my mother’s death didn’t mean I entirely lost her and that I can still choose to live in a way that honors her, knowing she’d smile if she was here. I also have to learn to stand right in the fire and learn the burning. In other words, life isn’t easy and I get tired and weary and things are hard. It’s hard to go to a job that exhausts the hell out of you and it’s hard to allow yourself to work at relationships. It’s hard to keep doing what’s good for your health and it’s hard to still have life’s common problems come and go while you’re trying to find a place in the world. It’s a constant matter of endurance. Just as you physically have to bear a lot of pain and breathlessness and your heart racing while you run a few kilometers and your legs are burning from the ache and all of you wants to just stop and sit down on the ground, you have to endure such a burning mentally. The secret lies in not focusing on the burning and how your legs ache and you struggle for breath. Instead, focus on keeping on moving one foot in front of the other and the road ahead of you because you know you have a destination to get too. 

I am enduring the ache for my destination and I am working on myself for all the times to come in which I will be happy. I am learning how to navigate through relationships so that someday, I will be happy in a real one that honors love. I am working on taking care of my body so that I will get to use it so wonderfully in all the moments of dancing and running and feeling healthy to come. I am working on my mind so that I will never be defeated by depression again. It took a lot of screwing over to learn how to walk through fires and not just stand in them.