As I pounded my feet on the treadmill this afternoon, I made progress but I got nowhere. Physically and mentally. My thoughts floated to the elusive "Happiness" that is so ingrained in our language and culture. "I just want to be happy" must be thought in billions of minds, countless times, all day, every day. Yet, we all grasp and understand that happiness is an emotion, fleeting, like all others. What we seek is an underlying peacefulness, contentedness, that is a result of what, exactly?
The clearest answer of course is circumstance. When all our circumstances in the world are "on our side" - the future looks solid and undaunting when we have a stable lifestyle, a nice home we like to live in, a safe financial future, travels plans and trips to look forward to, a lover who adores us whom we adore in return, good health and good family and friends. It is very easy to assume a full hand of these cards to be the remedy to peacefulness - and, whilst they certainly do contribute to a wonderful day or week or month, once you get used to having these things, we can find the restlessness settling in. We feel unsatisfied. We want more. What if there is a lover who can stimulate my mind more, or one who loves me more, who needs me more? Someone who needs me less, who lets me be. What if I had a better living situation, a bigger house - more room to breathe? What if I lived in a van, nomadic, romantic? Perhaps then I would feel so full and empty, all at the same time. We invent problems because it's natural, progression is an exciting part of living, stagnation and peacefulness are not one and the same. Happiness and peacefulness are not one and the same.
Like the majority of the world, I realised pretty early on that circumstances (material or otherwise) aren't what will give me peace. My attitude towards circumstances, my attitude towards the day, would do this. But then my mind would spiral - sometimes because of my circumstances - either positively or negatively in either direction. On a good, clear day, I would wake up with a sparkling mind, work out, eat well, finish up editing pictures, be productive, notice all the sights and the smells and sing to the music and feel at peace. I felt grateful for the day, for all days. My previous sorrows would feel laid to rest, accepted, almost sentimental. On a bad day, I could wake up and argue every negative about myself and my mind and life like a cynic with the worst stung heart. I would try to counteract myself with hope and gratitude, just to slam it back into the ground with the force of a thousand thoughts exploding in my mind like a firework display backfiring.
I still can't work out what determines a good day or a bad day, they just are. Today has been mediocre, leaning towards the bad. I'd like to think my week of chaos and busyness has kept me from being in touch with my mind and emotions, and left me vulnerable to an avalanche of sorts, which has toppled (or begun to?) today.
I ignore my friends and family and retreat inside my cave of myself. No one is enough. I only see the flaws. I only see my own flaws. I feel like a terrible person. I try to go easy on myself - my boyfriend is gone, and I miss him. I've had this argument with myself a thousand times, heard his voice chime in inside my mind: "I've not gone anywhere. Close your eyes and I'm there, you know that." I feel petulant and childlike. He always loved my petulance. The memory of him saying so with mischief in his eyes comes flooding back, and I'm a puddle on the floor again.
I sink into my sofa and think some more about peace. I'm sure it's to do with gratitude, that gratitude holds the key to it all. Being awake enough to see how precious the moment is, the moment of where you are in your life and all the things you hold - no matter what is lost, no matter what is mortal. And then I fight myself with the sad reality that the moment is already gone, cannot be saved, that there is only more loss and more grief and more hopelessness in store. This is my fight, and I am losing it.
I counteract my wallowing with an emergency poison dart, filled with magic and love and cliches. "Aha!" I laugh at myself. "Yes, it all dies. But it also lives! And that is what must be celebrated. And when did death become so morbid? Death should be so wonderful, you can lay down your misery and your baggage and feel the grass waving above your head with no yesterday, no tomorrow. It's peace. Love death, you fool. Love it all."
I sigh and curl up some more. I am not used to giving in to sorrow like this. I know I will become strong again - tomorrow, maybe. But the periods of time I am peaceful for, is that what determines peace? If I fail to be peaceful today, am I no longer a peaceful person? If I die today, will they forever remember me as a sad girl with boots filled with water? Or will they remember the majority of my days - the days they didn't even see, they didn't witness, that I may have written about or photographed, the lost days. What about them?
I drink some water and decide that I should probably stop thinking, today. Who would ever love a mind that can unravel like this? I don't know how to sell myself to someone. Yesterday I was baked with fresh fruit, cream, sugar, love and peace, love and peace. Today I am expired milk and spilled on the carpet.
I suppose this is all part of the human experience, my brain comes with my flesh prison, and I must succumb to it, the bad and the good. I find some peace in that. I should probably go to sleep now, clean up my war wounds and give them a chance to heal. I am exhausted, and I haven't even left my flat.