Some days, I feel like I’ve lived a thousand years or so.
Others, I wonder if I was born yesterday.
Though I’m fairly certain I’m hovering somewhere in between the two extremes, the middle ground proves a difficult place to find, let alone conquer. I’ve often let my mind wander into the questions it begs, fully knowing that I am in fact there—here—in between young and old, naive and wise.
When I drift just far enough, I remember the name of this sacred middle ground: It’s learning.
And although I may not have been around for a thousand years, I’ve certainly learned a great deal in my speck of existence thus far:
I have learned that some days are good and some days are not-so-good, but a day that blesses me with another chance to breathe is anything but bad.
Waking up, breathing, thinking, feeling, doing—these are not promises, but gifts. I have learned to be grateful.
I have learned that I’m allowed to ask questions. I’m allowed to try and succeed. I’m also allowed to try and fail, though I’ve also learned that failure isn’t real, because eventually what once was a failure becomes the start of something new—perhaps something better, a victory (or maybe not so much, and the process continues).
But who am I to say what’s real?
I have learned that no one can define reality for anyone else, for reality is a thing to be perceived, to be tried on for size and lived in a way that cannot be replicated.
Yet, we all live it.
And that’s another thing: I have learned that life is the art of paradox—that the world is huge and yet minuscule, that we are all the same and yet entirely unique, that brokenness can solidify unshakable strength and that the notion of balance requires playing with extremes.
I have learned that the truth is alive and well. So are lies. So are dreams and so are realities, the harsh and the lovely.
I have learned that some things can only be endured wearing blinders, but that it’s important to remember to take them off eventually. The best of this world can only be experienced without them—eyes, mind and heart wide open.
I have learned to trust a little more, to let myself feel; that it’s better to feel everything, the good and the not-so-good alike, than to feel nothing at all.
Otherwise, I might miss something brilliant, something like fireworks or peace or possibility. Or love.
And I have learned that love is good. I love love. It’s the only thing I’ve ever known to both slow my heart and make her race, to cradle her softly and slingshot her across my insides. I have learned that love is gentle and love is wild, and that it can heal beyond the inevitability of time alone.
In fact, time left untouched doesn’t really heal at all.
I have learned that time needs love. Love needs time. They’re interdependent, delicately woven into a beautiful braid of moments and questions (and sometimes answers).
And speaking of time, I’ve also learned that age is but a story to be told from and by the soul, not the years spent in one life or another.
And speaking of the soul, isn’t it beautiful?
I have learned that it’s not the kind of beauty that is decided, but the kind that is known all along, deeply rooted in the foundations of existence. The truest beauty has no means of description; it is far too great, too high a notion to authentically define.
But I have learned that when I feel it moving inside me, I know it. We all know that feeling, we just can’t say it. That’s what makes it such a marvel, and that’s what keeps us doing whatever makes us feel that way.
That’s what keeps us growing—what keeps us true.
And I’ve learned that to be true is to simply be. Period.
I have learned that being true doesn’t imply effort or exerting force; it means relinquishing control over perception and circumstance. To let that go is to make room for the wonders that could be—to grow into the wonders that already are.
I’ve learned that I was put on this earth and given this life to do something only I can do, a task that only I can fulfill: to cultivate and contribute what is inherent to my own happiness and to serve with my unique strengths.
It doesn’t mean I don’t have weaknesses (I have tons), and it doesn’t mean that my understanding will always be clear (it usually won’t be), but if I am still and patient enough—if I’m really listening—I will know when I’m living the possibilities that reveal my potential (and when I’m not).
I have learned that each of us is specifically born in purpose, yet we are infinite in our means of understanding it. Much the same, we are limitless in love—how we give it and receive it—how we live it.
It has nothing to do with what should or shouldn’t be, but what is. It’s not a matter of when or what, but how and why. And the questions that cover each deepening surface are just as important in peeling back the layers to the truth—my truth, the one that sings to me and becomes restless in my heart when I stray too far from home.
But I have learned that I can always find it. Home is always here.
I have learned that things fall into place, perhaps in ways I never expected they would. And I’ve learned to trust that—that the song is my reality, inseparable from the blood that pumps throughout, one and the same with the bigness and smallness of the things I have learned and all that I have yet to know.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: courtesy Sara Rodriguez