I don’t think it’s a coincidence that travelling feels much better when you’re not all-consumed by an eating disorder…because I guess life life does in general.
The first few days of this trip (to Iceland!) have already been an opportunity for me to reflect on how much things have changed – and how much damn work I’ve put into changing them.
It’s striking to realize that this time last year I never could have imagined what this would feel like – a life not entirely dictated by of fear and despair. A life in any form at all really.
It makes you realize how drastically things can change without you even noticing. Fighting through what has been the most difficult time of my life with my head down, braced for impact, has simultaneously made it difficult to see the progress I’ve been making.
When I do get a chance to stop and reflect, the moments are a mixed bag. Gratitude? Of course. Happiness – I dare say I think so.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of apprehensive reverence that comes from both the sweetness of newfound freedom and the bitterness of a melancholic history still left on your tongue.
It’s like suddenly having a cake placed in front of you that supposedly holds the secret to happiness but you’re reluctant to take a bite because what if it isn’t true?
Or worse, what if it is but the cake is suddenly taken away from you just as quickly.
(Okay a bit of a contrived metaphor but hopefully you get the point…)
Not only do I think no such secret to happiness exists, but I’ve also become somewhat familiar with how to talk myself through this “philosophical dilemma” if you will.
Here it is:
Just because there may not be a key to happiness, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the damn cake anyway!
Maybe happiness isn’t just one thing. Nor is it a destination. Rather it’s extracting as much joy as often as possible from wherever you can find it. Which means eating the cake whether or not happiness is guaranteed – because chances are it isn’t.
Maybe it’s worth the illusion. The promise of something good. Maybe that’s how we keep going – how we cultivate hope. And there will be something good, it always comes back. And each happy memory goes in to the bank of good moments and genuinely contributes to the kind of life you want to live.
Happiness isn’t guaranteed, so we might as well grab onto it whenever we can.
Plus, if the answer was in the cake, not only would you miss out on a delicious treat, but you’d feel pretty silly if you didn’t eat it.
Having gone so long without cake (both metaphorically and literally…) I’m painfully aware of what it was like not to have any, so I’m scared to get my hopes up or become accustomed to a life full of cake if it could easily be taken away again. Had too much of the metaphor yet?
I think people have been entertaining this issue for ages and I’m certainly not going to pretend to have the answers, but I do know that worrying about losing something prevents you from truly enjoying it while you have it.
It draws us away from the ever sought-after mindfulness everyone so gallantly pursues. If you’re too afraid to take the leap you’ll never learn to fly. If you protect yourself from heartbreak, you’ll never open your heart to love. If you starve away the bad feelings you’ll lose the good altogether.
Unfortunately, you don’t get to pick and choose the good bits – but in accepting it all you’ll likely find there are many more good bits to choose from.
And if I ever hope to build myself a life worth living, it includes enjoying the whole life I’m living, or at least being present to all of it – in the moment.