Shadows & Puzzle Pieces

How does it all come together?

You wonder.

When it’s all said and done and the light in the living room light of your life is turned off, how does the puzzle on the floor you’ve been toiling at look?

Is it a complete work? A picture ? A moving hologram?

Are the edges smooth and crisp with lines perpendicular to one another?

Or are they jagged and piecemeal – curvy gaps left open, craving for closure?

Ah – and the ultimate question, are the lines supposed to connect, revealing a picture complete in its finality?

Or are there supposed to be jagged edges?

Is the puzzle supposed to remain unfinished, ever looking for that final piece?

And as we stand up to gain the higher view, the outside upward perspective of the picture that is our life – what is it that we see?

More work to be done.

More pieces to collect.

More angling and fishing and finishing and solving.

Or are we satisfied in our achievement?

Is whatever it is- enough ?

Can we see the beauty we created ?

Can we appreciate the complexity of the effort, the momentum of the task, the joy in its completion?

Not me.

Not matter how hard I try.

No matter how often I coach myself.

I will already be looking for that piece I lost somewhere under the couch.

I can’t even tell what the shape is supposed to be or where in the picture it is filling the void.

Like a shadow, it’s just there, behind me, over my shoulder, out of my reach.

The lost puzzle piece that is you.

That is what was.

What’s supposed to have been.

What will never be.

Always close but elusive nonetheless.

And somehow, someway, at some point before the end table lamp of my life extinguishes the light for the long night ahead – I will hold that piece in my hand and I will know.

I will know if it was meant to be lost all along.

Or if it truly belongs, in my puzzle.

And then, there will finally be peace.

Finding gravity again

One day the fog just lifts

It doesn’t have to be a special day

It doesn’t have to have a key moment

It just happens

And you see the world again through happy eyes

And your heart beats a peaceful rhythm

And your smiling more, laughing more

Like really laughing

From that deep place you forgot even existed

The one that tells you everything is ok

Not is going to be ok

It IS ok

Your center of gravity is back

The Scar Tissue of Strength

What I have survived. 

People always talk about how strong you are, how you’ll get through this, how god doesn’t give you what you can’t handle. 

But no one ever mentions the toll it takes on you. 

No one ever says, “Be strong, but remember, your body and soul will pay a price.”

It’s like a difficult class at the gym.

You go into Spinning class thinking, “Ah, I made it, I’m here.” And you look forward to the sweat and the music and the endorphin release. But 15 minutes in you realize, this is a ball-buster. This bitch instructor is set out to kill me and for a moment you think of leaving. Fake a phone call. Take a piss and just not return. Whatever, just get out before the real pain starts. But then, somewhere around the 30-minute mark you’ve broken through “the wall” and now your legs are on fire. You are grinding a hill and every muscle in your body is working in unison. Your veins run purple with blood. The towel is drenched, the water bottle near empty and you realize that in only 15 minutes this will be over. The grit sets in, the next hill is higher, harder, and you’ve got this. Not only can you do this, but you do this more. More than anyone else in the room, in the gym, in the world. You are the bike. You are the music. You are the heart beating loudly in your ears and only you got yourself here and only you can choose when it ends. 

Until it does. The last song is played. The dial turned down, the lights brought back up. And you are no longer flying on your high. You’re wiping down and packing your gear to go. 

You are strong. You are stronger now than you were 45 minutes ago. And you are tired. 

Later, later that night or maybe well into the next day, it becomes harder to get up from the chair. Your legs are heavy. Your muscles weary. The balls of your feet start to ache from the metal pedal they hugged so tightly in class. 

And you realize, in a simultaneous flash of pride and regret, you are stronger because you survived, but you are scarred. See, when you workout your muscles ebb and flex and grow and change but when they do that they also tear. Small microtears in your muscle fibers is what is really happening. And when those tears heal the muscle grows and that is how you get stronger. So, in a way, muscle is scar tissue. Healthy scar tissue. 

You do this two, three times a week and the scar tissue grows and grows and your image in the mirror looks better and better. And so, you keep doing it. Until it no longer becomes a choice. 

That is surviving what god gave you. 

God or fate or life or whateverthefuck throws these hardships at you, day after day, week after week, and people tell you that you are strong and so you deal with the hardships day after day, week after week, until you really are, in fact, strong. 

But no one sees the muscle tears. No one ever mentions the scar tissue that is building up and has nowhere to go. Where does all that go – that pain, that sadness, that fatigue, that anger. 

When you look in the mirror you see it. It’s the lines dug into your forehead. It’s the bloat around your chin and neck. It’s your fake smile, your slow, hunched over walk, it’s your hands wringing each other over and over in sweaty circles. 

It’s your indifference. It’s your apathy. It’s your carelessness. It’s your panic attacks. It’s your meltdowns. It’s your benders. 

That is now your muscle. That is the price for exercising your strength. 

The First Step

Look up, toward the threshold ahead. Though it may be a steep, cold climb there is virtue in the effort.

I want my story to be one of thrival, not just survival

I want my story to not only have a happy ending, but an inspirational one.

I want to not only be vindicated, nor validated, but victorious over my victimhood

For this is a story of choices

Some good

Some bad

And control

And lack there of

But mostly it’s a story of what happens when gut punch after gut punch keeps a person in perpetual survival mode.

A story about the consequences and sacrifices of simply surviving instead of thriving.

It’s about how many hits does it take to knock down a truly strong person?

And once once down- what happens next?