It is one week into the new year and everyone is busy creating memes about how it’s just the next 2020 and freaking out over right wing extremists taking over the capitol and the end of the world. I feel like I am watching all of this take place inside one of those giant glass windows in front of the old department stores. I am standing on the outside seeing it all going on but really unaffected by it and completely uninvolved. It isn’t because what is happening in there isn’t real or disturbing or important but because yet again my world got rocked and not in a way that felt like I was on the other side of the glass. This one felt real and personal. The impact reverberated through my heart, soul and mind and took control of the direction of my emotions.
On New Year’s Day I had written a post on social media greeting 2021 with caution because I knew it had potential to bring both good and bad. Little did I know that even at that moment it had already delivered a very low blow that I was just unaware of yet. A very dear friend had been killed in a car accident the night before and this guy was one of the kinds of guys who lit up the world because he was in it. He brought joy to it and left you feeling just plain good when you were around him. He was young and had his whole life ahead of him. The sudden shock of losing this soul was incredibly difficult to accept. At first, I was in denial, then came the anger. Why him? Then came the sorrow and the tears. I spent as much time as I could in the woods, hiking that next day. The fresh air, the timber, the big expanse and the little details all helped me process through a wide range of emotions. I came out if it feeling like he is still here. Then came the intense burst of energy and drive to just stay busy to keep my mind from thinking anymore. Now I am here…I don’t really know where here is, I just feel numb. Numb to the world around me, numb to the chaos, numb to my own goals and schedule.
This is only one of many losses we have experienced in the past year. The mind can only handle so much loss before it starts to struggle with relating to everyday problems and cares with any sense of sympathy or understanding. I find myself feeling calloused and cynical. I see the very real and difficult struggles of those around me and those I empathize with and wish I could somehow fix them. A friend just found out that her mother is dying of cancer and she is spending her last days with her. This I feel…deeply. I understand the hurt and I want to relieve it but the surface stuff I have no mental capacity to care about anymore. I don’t care who the president is. I don’t care if they give us no money or a lot of money. I don’t care if I have to wear a mask or I don’t. I just don’t care. Is this appropriate or healthy? Probably not. Do I like it? No. I want to care. I want to be a part of the world around me and not be emotionless, watching from the outside but this is where I am right now.
I am learning to accept where I am and what I am feeling and to stop trying to make it what I think it should be. That doesn’t mean I will sit and wallow in negativity but it’s OK to feel sad. It is OK to mourn. It is OK to feel calloused. I believe allowing myself to fully immerse in the feelings I have in the moment will give them a chance to play out and to move on to the next stage of the processing journey. In the past I did not let myself process. Some of it was because I was stubborn and thought I knew better and I also had to consider others in the journey like my children who needed me to focus on them. The truth is those feelings do not go away if we do not process them, they just go into the Que to wait until later and eventually they will demand to be processed. The more I can allow myself the freedom to feel in the moments the less I will have in the Que to process later and that is a beautiful thing. So, feel the feelings, cry the tears, scream out the anger, ask the questions and search your soul for meanings and answers because it is a part of what makes us beautifully human. It is a messy process and it’s not always pretty. In the end I believe I will be stronger and ultimately more able to connect with those around me for wading through the mess with my eyes wide open. No more hiding from the pains or turning away from the hurt.
This friend that we are temporarily separated from physically, lived his life with his eyes wide open, his heart on his sleeve and fearless in his journey to experience the people and the world around him, fully immersed in everything he was doing. After spending so much time considering the impact he made on those who were lucky enough to cross his path I seek to be more like him in my relationship with the world. If my last day was tomorrow would those who crossed paths with me have something positive to have gained from the experience? Would my zest for life light a fire in them to search for the beauty in moments, in people and in the world? That is a tall order but Ty did this effortlessly. It’s who he truly was at his core and an example for all of us to try to emulate.