The world around me has gone to sleep. Crickets have taken over. It is their world now.
There’s barely any noise, but once in a while, a door is closed, and a toilet is flushed. My laptop is running like a mini-posho mill, and as I type on the keyboard, I add one more form of disturbance to the silence of the night.
It’s midnight already, and I should probably be asleep, but I know that’s not going to happen. I am a night owl; my brain comes alive when the world is quiet. The peace and calm help me listen to the gods and demons within. And as they battle each other to determine whether I am a good or bad person, they teach me something about myself.
I’d like to write a feel-good piece that talks about how joy and happiness is the only thing I feel, but that would be a lie.
Tonight, like many other nights, my mind blurs the brightness of the machine in front of me, my mind shuts out the sound of nature, and I find myself looking within. In these moments of reflection, I see my scars, the ones I have learnt to live with, and then I see beauty, the one that helps me get through the days.
But tonight, it’s a little different. As I make my way through the crowded path of who I am, I come across a girl that is trying to feel the sunshine. Usually, she stands in the shade; today, she wants to come out and play. She wants to feel the warmth of the sun on her face; she wants to stand under its glory without worrying about what comes next.
She wants to remove her shoes and maybe step on the grass. If time permits, she wants to dance, just a little. She wants to twirl and throw her hands in the air. She wants to sing along to the country music tune playing in her head. She wants to laugh, loudly, without a care in the world.
This girl wants to scream at the top of her lungs, not for anything, just for the sake of it. To release all the air within her so she can take in the freshness that nature has to offer.
Tonight I find myself face to face with the girl I was a few years back. And as I stare into her eyes, a tear falls from my eyes. I wish I could talk to her. I wish she could see me, to see the person she would become.
I know that’s not how it works, so, I stand in awe of her resilience. Of her ability to wake up every day with a yearning to escape into the brightness of the sun. Her desire to feel the embrace of the ground as she kisses it with her feet.
It’s not yet time. She doesn’t understand it, but I do. I have walked her journey, and I know that as much as it would be easier, less painful, and quicker to tell her that everything will be okay, that she will get to do all of that, these things work best with time.
There’s a car driving into the compound, it startles me back to reality, and now that girl is back to feeling alone, again! I can hear footsteps on the stairs, murmurs here and there, maybe some music, but the crickets still establish that it’s their time to shine.
I close my eyes in an attempt to summon sleep, but that’s not going to work. The battle within is almost unbearable. Who wins; the gods or the demons? Am I a good or a bad person? They keep going; I sit in wait for them to finish.
My eyes wander around the room, as I try to find a distraction. Usually, I’d say a mantra a few times to get back to alignment. Every night I use the same one, I ask myself, “what are the three things that cannot be hidden forever? The sun, the moon, the truth.”
I don’t remember where I got it, but it works; if I do it enough times, there’s rhythm in my breathing. I can keep my mind occupied, just long enough, I am not sure for what. I need the focus it brings.
So I start, in through the nose, say one part of the mantra response, and then out through the mouth. I don’t know why, but every breath I take goes through me like the cold hand of death; I can feel it going through my head. When I release it, I feel cleansed. Like someone walked through my head with a vacuum cleaner.
If I do this enough times, I’ll be asleep in 30 minutes, but tonight is different. Every time I breathe in, I feel an ache. My heart is restless, my mind is worried, and my soul is tired. The last few weeks have been hell, and my body reminds me of it often.
I have been ignoring these reminders because I already exist in darkness. What good would it be to add more? Darkness is darkness, whatever the type. Tonight I don’t have that option. I can’t brush it off; I can’t walk away, I can’t distract myself. It’s time to face it with everything it comes with.
I close my eyes, and I am back to a place I never want to go back to. In this moment, I am that girl that wanted to feel the sunshine and walk on dirt. And I can see who I have become. The changes I have been through, the growth, the transformation.
In that girl’s eyes, I am winning. I am a point of encouragement that things will get better. But in my eyes, I am struggling.
The days are longer than they should be; the nights are shorter than I would like them to be. I can hear the voices of doubt, calling me out for existing, questioning my right to be here, my ability to stay here. I hear the voice of worry, reminding me that everything in life is vanity, but it’s better to have vain things than nothing at all.
This voice talks about tomorrow as if this moment doesn’t matter. The voice of worry steals moments. Some that I wish I could get a do-over for. But that’s not how life works.
If I listen carefully, I can hear the voice of discouragement, talking about how the work and effort don’t matter, how there is no impact on what I am doing because I am running in circles. And that my attempts are only lost in the air.
This voice is loud; it wants me to rest in knowing that I tried. That while I wanted to do bigger things, it’s okay to quit when ahead. This is the voice of self-preservation; she is keen on ensuring that I don’t go back to that girl. The one who wished she could stand in the warmth of sunshine and feel the ground with her feet.
The gods and demons are tired of fighting within, so they shake hands and call it a truce. This happens a lot. I have come to accept that I cannot be one thing, I am good, and I am bad. I find balance, and I work with it.
The tune has shifted; there is hope in the air. My heart is still tired, I am completely exhausted, but it’s rude to leave before the sermon is over.
In this moment, I am reminded of something. That there is no battle I have come across that, I haven’t won yet. That I have existed in moments like this, ones that were so dark, I thought it would last forever.
I can hear it clearly, the voice of self-assurance. The one that understands that life comes with bumps. And it reminds me of my warrior spirit. I can see her now. The girl who wanted to feel the sunshine and kiss the ground. She is not standing in the shade; she is somewhere in between.
Her foot is suspended in the air, she is ready to walk into the world she has always wanted, but she is not ready, not yet. This girl hovers between the shade and the sunshine. Knowing fully well that although she wants the warmth, she needs to take her time.
In her predicament, I see myself, in the here and now. I am aware of my ongoing transition, from the places that provide shade, the ones that offer an escape whenever the world is a little harsh. The things that gave me the illusion of safety.
I realize that I have a yearning, like that girl, to walk into the warmth of the sunshine. Like her, I want to walk on a ground of limitless possibilities. A ground that is so rich and fertile that everything that steps on it grows. A ground that offers nourishment. Maybe then I won’t have to worry about where the next meal comes from.
If I walk on that ground, I could grow to the heights I always knew I was meant to. But just like that girl, there is hesitation. I understand that once I step on that ground, there is no going back to a place of dreaming about it.
The things I have wished for, those that keep me up at night, would be gone. If I step into the ground before I am ready, then I will feel the sun for a moment and then it will be gone. That the ground is going to give me the nourishment I need, but I won’t have what it takes to maintain the things that grow from this interaction.
So, instead of walking into the sunshine, I take off my shoes. I ready my feet to feel the embrace of the ground I know I should be walking on. But I know it’s not time. I understand that. I walk to the edge of my shade, and I sit in wait for the sun to make its way to me.
I know it might take a minute or two, but it is guaranteed to get to where I am. And when it is my time to bask in the warmth of it, my feet will be ready to step into the ground of endless possibilities. By then, I will have watched enough people tend to the things that grow from this ground, and I will know how to do the same for mine.