I’m tired of making the same post every year for sixteen years. I’m tired of reminding myself in front of the whole world what happened, what was lost. I’m tired of wondering what it means to me and how things could be changed if only we did something differently. One brief moment. One answer to a question. What path would my life have taken.
A yes instead of a no.
But next week I’ll have to make that post. The same one I’ve made for sixteen years. Because I can’t forget what was lost. I can’t forget how my life changed forever. I won’t ever forget that one brief moment. When a no instead of a yes was the last time I ever heard you say goodbye.
I remember standing in a yard of a home I’ve never been to, that belonged to a family I’ve never met.
I remember how bright everything was even though it was a dull cloudy day.
I remember all the oranges and yellows and reds.
I remember the light breeze and all the brown trees.
And I remember thinking how perfect the bright green grass looked peaking out through it all.
I remember the fall.
Essays of Maine.
That boat on the choppy waves.
The restaurant on the pier.
The little red cottage just up the hill, looking out over the water.
That’s what my dreams have been made of.
That’s what I have been chasing for all these years.
That little piece of paradise that no one knew was there.
That little scene that only I knew to be heaven.
The rocks down by the shore.
How big those rocks seemed to just a little boy and his even smaller brother. Those boys, so excited to climb to the top to look out over the waves. The first time ever those eyes seeing the ocean. Never knowing if they would ever see anything this great again.
I remember the up and down movement of the front of the boat.
The crashing splash of the waves.
The mist coming up so high and so cold with the gusting wind. It seemed as if we were moving so fast.
Though I think now, we may not have barely been moving at all.
When the whales breach for the first time it’s like you’re not even sure what you’re seeing.
And then the water sprays, and you’re a child watching fireworks. And then they come again.
And they roll on their sides as they spray more water and you feel like you’re running in a field with horses or dogs or something that just loves having you run with them.
Because they are just there with you.
There’s no reward.
Just your company.
One of my favorite memories to think about was how it looked when I would gaze up from the shore. Standing near the water on the rocky beach.
The pebbles so small, so perfectly smooth.
When I would turn and look up I would see the trees and the hills, which I would swear were mountains, go on and on, up and up.
And just that little red cottage at the base of it all, over looking the water and that smooth pebbled beach.
To this day I’m still not sure if that’s how it really was. I tell myself at some moments that I have exaggerated all the details. Or even imagined the whole thing all together.
But that’s how I’ll always remember it. That’s how I’ll always love it.
Those rolling mountain hills, covered in trees so tall, as I stand on that perfect rocky beach.
With the pebbles so smooth.
Someday, I hope to return to that place. That secret little scene that only I knew as heaven. It’s how I’ve always imagined spending the last of my days.
Standing by the water of those rocky beaches.
The almost too cold mist of the waves spraying upon my face.
Staring up at those rolling mountain hills covered in trees so tall with my old grey eyes. The same grey of the sky that backdrops it all.
And when I would turn and look up, there she would be. Standing ever so peacefully.
She’s what I’ve been traveling through life for, for all this time.
That safe, comforting feeling. That free feeling I haven’t felt in so many years.
She’s there, standing.
With the trees to her back, overlooking the shores, with the pebbles so smooth. So small.
She’s still there, that little red cottage.
Lost and Free
I saw a picture this morning. In this picture I was with a group of guys I no longer talk to at all. Not for any negative reasons but as life goes on some relationships just kind of fade away. In the grand scheme of things eight years shouldn't be a lifetime. But that's exactly what that was. That was a completely different life than what I have now. This picture was actually right before I met my ex wife. Which in itself makes me laugh. That in that eight year span since this picture I met a woman, fell in love with her, married her and then watched our relationship run into the ground below my feet. Maybe that right there is the whole point of this. Relationships come and then they go. Without any warning someone new comes into your life. Maybe they become a fun acquaintance or even closer. Maybe they are able to grab a hold of your heart. Then, again, without any warning at all, they are gone. It's what makes the moments that we have so special. We never know how long they will last.
I saw a picture today. In this picture there was a boy I used to be. This boy eight years in my past. I remember where I was then, how I felt emotionally. An odd combination of lost and free. And with everything that I have been through the last eight years. With all the love and heartbreak that comes with it, I am still that same boy. I may never change.
Have a happy life.
There was an article that I once came across on a certain social media site that caught my attention rather recently. It was one of those, 'so and so many ways to having a happier life' type of articles. It was probably some silly number like nine or something. Now, that's not to say that my life in a whole is an unhappy life. But of course there are parts that could be better. Whether it's relationships and love or my job or money, I think everyone has a part in their lives that they feel could be more satisfying. So as I sat there, Are undoubtedly on the train, I thought to myself, "yea, I could be happier. Why not? Why not me? Why couldn't I be more happy?"
Of course, as a 29 yr old man (I'll say my age rather than 'grown man' because, come on, let's all just be honest with each other) I didn't expect to stumble across a life changing piece of advice. Especially coming from an ad covered article on a certain social site ran by a guy named Mark. But my boredom got the best of me. And also my curiosity.
As I was reading through it, I began to feel rather annoyed by how typical this article was, and also a little disappointed. Like I said, I didn't expect to have my world changed but maybe I hoped for something we all haven't heard before.
It was all the same repeated rhetoric that, in this modern age, we all already know; get more exercise, eat a healthy diet, sleep more. Basically, regulate your life.
You know, healthy people are unhappy too.
And then something caught my eye. I actually felt myself stop when I saw it. I've never heard anyone mention anything close to this piece of advice. It was so simple, yet it actually made me think. And I've been thinking about it everyday since then.
That's it. Two words, six letters and two of those letters are the same.
And instinctively, I did. I looked up from that article. I really tried to think about what that could mean. I wanted to understand. As I got off the train and began my walk to work, I thought about it even more. I slowly began to see. I looked up. I looked up high and all around.
It's easy, at times, to let the disappointments of life weigh you down. The job that isn't going as well as hoped. The relationship that didn't work out the way I thought it might. The more successful friend. The weight would get so heavy that sometimes I couldn't help but to just let my head hang. To just stare down as I walked. It would get so emotionally heavy that the disappointments become a physical presence, like a brick in my chest.
Then, I looked up.
There is so much happening in this world. And it can happen so fast. There's so much happening that if you hold your head low for just one minute you could miss the most incredible thing. You could miss the most incredible moment that you have been waiting your whole life for.
When you're looking down, your line of sight can't see past the ground.
You see definitive.
You only see the ground as it passes below your feet.
You see where you have gone. You see only the past.
Your sight ends.
When you look up, you quite literally can see where you are going.
You see future.
When you look up you see all the possibilities that are out there in this life. And the more I thought about it, that's the one that I feel means the most to me.
That's the thought that puts a small smile on my face.
You see possibility. That's the thought I think about every day as I walk down the street.
There is so much possibility in this world. In this life. Just the pure thought of all the possibilities out there is enough to make anyone smile with happiness.
I catch myself, from time to time, hanging my head a little. Letting my eyes wonder to the ground. I find myself thinking of the things that I wish I could change. Of the things I wish I could do differently.
And then I hear it.
As if there were some guardian angel doing its very best to look after me. Like the smallest whisper from deep down in my heart.
But I hear it.
Look up at the sky. Look up at the trees. Look up and see the birds and the clouds. Look up and see the dog running in the yard and the kids playing down the street. Look up and see. This small whisper turns into a powerful shout.
Look up and see the world. Look up and see the possibilities.
And then I think of the things I wish I could change. The things I wish I could do differently. And then slowly, a small smile begins to grow. I begin to see the possibilities. I begin to know that things can get better. That anything in this life can happen.
I look up and I know that everything is going to be ok.
I never in my life could have imagined that two words would have such an effect on my outlook. That an article that would have normally been brushed past could have the advice that I was looking for.
Does this advice actually change any of my situations? Does it make my problems go away? Absolutely not. But when I look up, my problems don't seem so bad. When I look up, I know that my situations can change. They can get better. They can turn out the way I want.
Tomorrow, I will walk to the train.
And I will walk to work.
And at some point during my walks tomorrow I will undoubtably start thinking about the things I wish I could change. And the things I wish I could do differently. And I'll feel upset. And if you are anything like me, even just a little bit, you will too.
Just promise me that you'll listen for it. That you will hear it.
That smallest whisper from deep down in your heart.
That you just hear it.
Promise me that you'll look up.