Emotions are like ocean waves… big, beautiful and, if you are RIGHT THERE in the middle of the water – you can do little to avoid the fact that eventually (and, oftentimes, repeatedly!) you will be hit. What you CAN do is control how long it keeps you down, holding you under, as the world continues on above you.
In 2017, I lost both my parents in a car crash.
In 2018, heartbreaking details were revealed about that crash and the events that followed (spanning nearly 3 years, culminating in a jury trial by the end of 2020) further complicated my grief and prolonged the healing process.
In 2019, a friend of mine succumbed to the demons in her own mind and chose to end her life by suicide.
In 2020, I lost another close friend and work partner, but was blessed with adopting his best friend/dog – whom he always used to bring to work with him on our shifts together.
The past few years of my life have been tumultuous, to say the least, but I’ve come to realize a great deal about strength and resilience and how NOT to let the “bad things” harden your heart.
It’s not always easy. I’ve seen a lot of unjust and unfair things happen and find it hard not to feel angry or cheated, or even numb. Somedays the weight of all that I have lost is incredibly heavy.
But that’s ok.
The “trick” is not to ignore it or attempt to avoid the pain of these emotions, but rather to simply not BECOME them. Recognize them for what they are and then let them go.
Like the painful beauty of an ocean wave – see it , feel it, appreciate it, let it wash all over you… but find the strength you need, your desire to breathe, to pop right back up on top, and continue moving forward.
REMEMBER: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
*Once again, it’s not always about running. Sometimes it’s simply about LIFE.
How do you learn to let go of a friend to whom you never got to say Goodbye?
It’s been a year and I swear I still see you sometimes – a passing face in a crowd or behind the wheel of a big gray truck driving down the road.
In my memories of the crazy calls we’ve run, the things we’ve seen and done, or the many times that I needed help – only to turn around and find you right there beside me.
In the quiet times – a classic movie on tv and the restless way you used to get up and walk out because “Quint needs to go pee”, only to realize it was really you who needed to leave, as E.T. was dying on the screen and you, yourself, were about to cry.😂
The crazy WTF questions and conversations we used to have at all hours of the night while working a 24 hour shift with too much caffeine and way too little sleep.🤪
Or the night I realized that you, too, are terrified of spiders and I wondered (for the first time ever) exactly WHO is going to come and save us now?!😳
I am just one of the many whose life was touched by you; and I am just one, of the many, who still feels this void without you here. You were a good man, a great friend, and the best partner. My memories with you are many – and I am so grateful to have them all.🙏🏼
How do you learn to let go of a friend to whom you never got to say Goodbye?
I do not know… with all of these good memories, I’d like to think that I never really have to.
What I do know is this – everytime I look into Quint’s eyes, I see YOU looking back at me; and so long as Quint is right here with me, so are YOU.
We miss you Matt-Man. We always will.
Rest easy, my friend. I’ve got Q.🐾
…once again, it’s not always about running; sometimes, it’s simply about LIFE.
💙In honor and memory of my friend and former partner:
Matthew Aaron Douglass (July 30, 1969 ~ January 12, 2020)
2020 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. Normally, on New Year’s Eve, I would take a seat and quietly reflect upon the passing year and write myself a recap.
Not this time.
You see, if I’ve learned anything at all in 2020, it’s that looking back does little to serve me well. I am an emotional being and can get sucked into my thoughts and memories quite quickly and easily. In 2020, I have realized what a trap this can be for me; one that offers little purpose and a great deal of pain.
This is not to say that the past is “bad”. Quite contrary, there are just as many good things back there as well. However, revisiting any of those things for a prolonged period of time runs the risk of keeping my mind there – and that is no way to live. Living in the past will always, inevitably, produce suffering. No matter how much good may reside there, it is no longer present and, therefore, can never truly BE again – which (for me) produces pain, sadness, and regret.
“Hiraeth” is the actual word for the feelings I have frequently experienced when stuck in this particular state of mind. It is a Welsh word for “homesickness or nostalgia, an earnest longing or desire, or a sense of regret. The feeling of longing for a home that no longer exists or never was. A deep and irrational bond felt with a time, era, place or person.”
I’ve come to realize, in the year 2020, that looking ahead, towards the future, is also no way to live. You see the future is not promised to any one of us. “Time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all”. More than this though, the future is uncertain and unpredictable. No matter how good our thoughts or intentions are, we are powerless to control it. If we continually look to the future – wishing for more or hoping for better – we create a constant, insatiable desire for more, better, or different rather than appreciating all that we have and already are. In essence, we create our own suffering. We fail to recognize the good that is happening all around us right here, right now, and therefore miss out on what LIFE is all about, as we long for things we can neither realize nor control.
An epic and accurate interaction from the television adaptation of the book “Looking For Alaska”, written by John Green, rings out in my mind’s eye time and time again:
“MILES : “Meriwether Lewis’s last words were : “I am not a coward but I am so strong – so hard to die.” I’m sure that’s true but it can’t be much harder than being left behind.”
MR. HYDE : “Everything that comes together, falls apart. Everything. This chair I’m sitting on – it was built and so it will fall apart. I’m going to fall apart; probably before this chair. And you’re going to fall apart. Cells and organs and systems that make you YOU – they came together, grew together, and so they must fall apart. Nothing lasts. Not Alaska the girl, nor Alaska the place. Not even Earth, itself.”
MILES : “You’re not one for pep talks, huh?”
MR. HYDE : “Do you remember with the Buddha said life is?”
MILES : “Suffering.”
MR. HYDE : “And suffering is caused by desire. The cessation of desire means the cessation of suffering. When you stop wishing things won’t fall apart, you’ll stop suffering when they do. Until then, this will hurt. But you will survive; until you don’t.”
I, too, have been wounded. I have experienced great tragedy and loss. I have come to know myself at my lowest moments and on my most painful days. I have become intimate with my pain. I have stared at it, studied it, come to know it, and given it a name. I have derived from it many lessons and realized that this is not where I am meant to stay. Suffering is only necessary until you realize that it isn’t – and so I refuse to stay there. I step forward from this place, releasing the burden from upon myself, knowing that I am strong, I am no longer afraid of this world, and I can trust myself to handle anything that comes my way.
Therein, lies the key.
You see, no feeling or emotion is ever “BAD”. It simply is just that – a feeling, an emotion. It is what we DO with these feelings or emotions that creates the outcome. When we allow a feeling or emotion to become our ACTIONS (or reaction) is where things change, creating ripples throughout our universe. You are not powerless. You always have a choice. The “trick” here is to allow yourself to see the things you feel, even call them by their name, yet refuse to go with them. Stay here, in the NOW. If we can learn to simply see things as they are and for nothing more than what they are, we can not only find the peace that we seek, but actually BE that peace.
You are beyond powerful. You already have everything you will ever need to thrive and live up to your full potential. Now is the time to trust yourself and truly believe it. All you have to do is be willing to part with the beliefs, habits, and scars which you have allowed to stand in your way.
With the turning of this New Year, I encourage you to step into your power, tap into your potential, and show your truest strength. Do it with love. Do it with gratitude. And know that, doing so, is the very thing that you are destined for.
…once again, it’s not always about running. Sometimes it’s simply about LIFE.