March 22, 2015

What a Desire to Die taught me about Living Fully.

Courtesy of Author (Garrett Paknis)

If I smoked fewer cigarettes on Tuesday, I would drink more liquor on Wednesday.

If I ran eight miles on Thursday, I would think it was a most excellent idea to do drugs all Thursday night.

For so long, I would methodically and righteously avoid my inner voice, the one that told me to be still, and so I ran into the noise until I couldn’t hear any longer.

It all culminated to a deaf, blank space, when I found myself awake for 72 hours on the bender of benders, looking into the mirror.

I couldn’t recognize who I was, and I knew, in that moment, that I had two choices—to decide whether I lived or died.

And I wanted to die.

It’s as simple as that.

But my spirit would not accept that for an answer and so I started to dig myself out of the seemingly bottomless pit of fear.

The next five years would prove to be the most difficult (and rewarding), days of my life. It was a time of ups and downs and merry-go-rounds, false expectations, prayer, and, at the end of the day, tremendous faith.

Spiritual teachers sell the idea of waking up as an easy process, but it’s not.

Instead, it’s real and gritty and necessary.

It also rewards us with everything we will ever need.

This necessary process tells us that our personal battles and what happens on our private path can harden our hearts and close us off from our truth. Sometimes it seems easier to avoid our reality, but what happens after a while of doing this—we crash.

In my case, I crashed time and time again, until I finally allowed myself to learn the lesson that life was trying to teach me.

That lesson may come in the form of a failed relationship, a major and literal car crash, or something as simple as misplacing our things all of the time (all three for me) and so it’s imperative we live a mindful enough life to notice this.

When we undertake the process of unearthing who we are, we will see an awakening to all that life has to offer.

The liquid drano to my faucets of truth came from where all good things come from—forgiveness.

Forgiveness for not only those around me, but forgiveness of myself—for all the pain I was harboring. I held onto things because I had a sick habit of taking the blame for situations that were out of my control.

In a way, I was brave for standing up for others—but in reality, I was a coward for never standing up for myself.

When I awoke to the realization that the sum of all of my mistakes is strength, I was able to pick myself up from the battlefield and start making a life worth living.

I was able to ask myself questions about what I wanted and I was shown that the simplicity of mindful living works.

It took me years to realize this, but nothing is worth avoiding. And more importantly, if we are avoiding any one thing, that is exactly what we are meant to address.

The journey to my truth wasn’t a trial without error.

Sometimes, I had to practically chip away at the congestion in my faucets in order for the murky and muddy water to clear out.

What I was faced with, during this period of my life wasn’t at all pretty, but I discovered that I was able to deal with this leakage because we, as humans, are built like mops.

We are built by strength and the human mops that we are, can clean up any amount of overflow or spillage. There is no mess that we can’t handle, and we are able to be rung out as many times as needed in order to clean up the biggest catastrophe (think red wine on a white carpet!).

I sure had to clean up my fair share of spilled wine—and tequila.

But what I learned from cleaning up the mess of my life, was that we live in a limitless world of possibility even when we are feeling extremely limited.

Life is going to try to harden our pipes.

There are going to be spills in aisle five, six and seven.

But, if we put in the work, there’s nothing that can stop us from a life truly lived, full of the components of who we are.

Courage, wisdom, perseverance, compassion. I can keep going, but deep down, we all know how good we are.

So, let’s clean our pipes, mop that mess up, and then sit back and relax for a little bit of a happy hour of sorts—because our faucets of truth are the sponsors of our next cold beverage.



Today, I Forgive Myself.


Author: Garrett Paknis

Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/ Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of the author

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