a year of getting back in touch.

act one: me
act two: you
act three: everything else

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why & wherefore?

I didn't always feel disconnected. There was a time when I felt very connected to everything around me. When I felt the communal pulse of my city. When I knew anecdotes about my neighbors. When I found beauty easily in the ugly and mundane. I saw the interconnectedness of the world as a crazy twisted web, and every time I made a new connection another strand stretched out across the universe to bridge the gap between us. At times strands became twisted or knotted or wore thin with constant use, but very rarely was a strand broken or lost.

And then I hit my head. Hard.

It was the beginning of the last quarter of my senior year in college. I was working on my thesis for my B.A. in History and finishing up classes for my B.A. in French. I had a large group of incredible friends, I had a loving and supportive family and I had a passion for getting myself into crazy adventures. But then I had a very bad week that April involving three concussions. Suddenly everything was hazy.

I woke up in Taiwan.

It was sometime in July. I had somehow graduated (and successfully written a thesis). I had taken a job teaching English in Asia. I had left my friends & family (including my roommate, who I left without saying goodbye or really moving much out of our apartment) and trotted across the Pacific to the other side of the globe to a place where I had no knowledge of the language or culture. While I remember a very distinct morning when I suddenly felt like I had actually woken up, as opposed to the feeling of waking yet still dreaming I had become accustomed to, I told no one of my realization. I wasn't sure exactly how I had gotten to Taiwan but I was having fun. I went with the flow.

Fast forward to the following autumn. I had taken a job teaching English in France. I had returned to the United States with only enough time to get my visa and then had fluttered away yet again, this time across the Atlantic. I was living in a very small town in central France and was slowly coming to the realization that I had absolutely no idea who I was. I couldn't remember much of my past, couldn't for the life of me figure out what I had ever wanted to do with my future and struggled daily with the now. I would wake up, open my closet and stare at the clothes as if they, too, were foreign. "This can't be what I actually wear, can it?" I would ask myself. I took to getting dressed based on old pictures I had brought with me. I did activities friends and family told me I had once enjoyed. I felt very very lost and very much alone.

Something happened in me then, a shutting off of sorts. I had lost all the connections in the haze and perhaps as a defense mechanism I shut off all possibility of forming connections in the future. I retracted deep into myself as I desperately searched for something recognizable, some tiny fragment to remind me who I was.

Much time has passed since then and I have tried to open up. I have made great progress in some respects. I no longer feel lost or alone (thanks in large part to the kindest person I have ever met - my best friend and husband). Yet there have been many steps backward for so few steps forward, often "caused" by some situation or event. What I have realized is that my reactions to events have changed so much that I tend to make myself out as the victim wheras before I would dance around the negativity until it had passed or was made into something positive. A simple occurrence can not cause me to be unhappy. I have to choose to react with that specific emotion. I want that adversity again. Voltaire once wrote "the most courageous decision one makes each day is to be in a good mood." I am choosing good moods these days.

But happiness is harder when you've cut yourself off. We've since moved back to the States, but instead of re-embracing life back home I've gone into severe and prolonged culture shock for the better part of a year. I have let the least important parts of life (a soul-less job, for example) get in the way of the most important, keeping myself busy to keep life at a distance.

Something needed to change. And so this project came into being. What was the catalyst? I myself don't know. Maybe it was seeing family and friends over the holidays. Maybe in was recovering from a serious back injury. Maybe it's the prospect of a new year and all the possibility a fresh calendar brings. Maybe it was simply a matter of being ready. Either way, I am hoping that this year of dedication will allow me to reconnect. With myself, with those that surround me and with life in general.

I don't expect it to be easy. I don't expect it to be perfect. I don't expect to reweave all the strands that were lost long ago. But my hope is that in making an effort to branch out once again I will find some semblance of wholeness, stability and peace that I can hold on to.

Follow me, join me or just browse. Wherever you find yourself reading this, I hope this finds you well.

(Quote: Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter XII.)

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