When I first began my 365-day project, I had but a faint sense of the why and the where of it all.
Yes, I wanted to open and express all-the-things we are afraid to say—and yes, it was because I so deeply believe in the power we each have to heal ourselves (and the world) with our stories—but, it’s more than that too, just as it always is.
In the four months previous to the end of last year, I split up with my long-term love and moved from a beautiful, giant two-level apartment into a teeny-tiny, just-barely-a-one-bedroom home, which taught me because of the sheer size of her, how to let go of the stuff that no longer fit into the new space I was in.
I was severely burnt out, heart-broken and unknowingly running on fumes in the last couple of months of a job that I both adored and was consumed by. Once that fell away, it was almost laughable at how easy it was to let everything else go, too; any and all commitments that didn’t align with my internal measuring system of integrity were released, until I was left standing with my own heart in my hands and a bank account of savings that would serve to hold me for awhile.
Sometimes (perhaps many times) in our lives, we will reach a point when it is no longer possible for us to continue living the life we have; the Universe, in her most-magical and often-confusing wisdom, will present a fork in the road.
Because she is clever and needs not explain herself to anyone, she’ll block all the exits (often the ones with the most footprints), urging us to seize our own wildness to cut through the tangle of jungle on the road less travelled.
And so it was that last year I deconstructed myself—all the way down to the bone—and learned (slowly, carefully and cautiously) how to set a new foundation and rebuild from the ground up.
This was (and is) a lonely and a difficult process, for the thing we know by now is that we cannot fix each other, but we must figure out how to mend ourselves—and from that place of learning, an entirely different form of love emerges.
My unraveling and reconfiguration was witnessed by humans beings I have never met and in turn—because essentially, although it’s a system of wires and cables connecting us over too many miles to count, social media is a community just like any other—I held others and witnessed their pain and suffering (as well as joined in the joy of celebration).
I read stories and poems and looked at images and urged my ear closer to the collective heart and I listened just as much as I shared—and it was also here that I started to notice the things that we weren’t saying and observing how what we said didn’t necessarily reflect how we were living our lives.
I witnessed the evolution of social media go from a space of love and support to a dumping ground for negativity, as well as a place for our egos to strut about, fanning our feathers as far as the eye can see—showing off and promoting ourselves—without mindfulness or reciprocation, not realizing the damage we can cause.
As much as social media can feed, inspire and bolster us up, it also has the ability to bring us crashing down.
What was previously awe can turn quickly into the things none of us wants to admit (publicly) that we feel: jealousy, envy, the speed at which our doubt grows in ourselves and the validity of our own lives, for how it is that everyone else looks so ‘happy’ and ‘together’?
I say this as much about myself as I do anyone else, for what I saw and heard reflected back to me the holes in my own story; the insights served to reveal my humility and what of myself I had covered up or remade to look different than it actually was in true life.
We can be too-open and over-share and get hurt; we can break hearts and disappoint and re-create ourselves into anything we want to be; this screen in front of us makes an easy scapegoat for us to avoid the responsibility of showing up for each other and being who we are when no one is looking.
The true test of our courage comes the moment we unplug and step away from the ties that bind us: Who are we when our fingers aren’t attached to the keys? What does the sparkle in your eyes look like when you make a joke and what do you sound like when you smile? How big are your tear drops and do they race down your cheeks or move in slow motion? If we pass each other on the street, do we pause and embrace like old friends, or do we feel the glimmer of recognition and keep walking, afraid that we’ll be found out to be frauds? Who are you really underneath it all and does your practice of living allow you to be one-in-the-same?
My story is far from over (I pray) although the daily sharing of it is (for the time being)—I still post, from time-to-time, checking Ego v. Heart before I hit ‘Share’—and behind the scenes, I quietly guard my life and the love it holds close.
The abridged version of this piece was published on She Does the City as the final instalment of a Four-Part Series. Read Part One, Part Two and Part Three. For the unabridged versions: here, here and here.