My life lately seems to be an attempt to mend the gap between the life I was living a few years ago, and the life I’m living now. I've finally began to accept that the search for the in-between is a life long pursuit. As it turns out, there's healing there, in this in-between.
I read my journal the other day, and it brought me back to a summer morning just a couple of years ago. I had ran three traffic lights heading to a wedding at the mormon Timpanogas temple. Both the bride and groom were friends of my husband and I, and my husband was the grooms best man. I was 21 years old at the time, and always felt a little inadequate among my husband and our friend group. Being younger, I always felt I had to prove my maturity among the group and because of that, I dreaded being late.
I didn’t fault myself for not being on my A game that morning. My husband and I had recently separated, and I spent all morning worrying that not being on speaking terms would draw undesired attention.
Worry and anxiety had filled my life ever since I had felt the need to prioritize other people's comfort above my own. It's clear to me now that anxiety is the shadow side that comes with being sensitive to and aware of the feelings of people around you. At the time, I considered it the weakest part of myself, this awareness.
I sped above the speed limits and let my thoughts wander at the same pace. “Would he save a spot for me?” “Will we be able to fake it all day today?” I had become an expert at faking. And I remember the freedom I felt when I realized I wouldn’t be playing this game for much longer.
The wedding celebrations continued and I ignored the pit in my stomach when the bride and groom asked for the two of us to pose in pictures with them or when friends asked if I knew where we would be moving for his medical school. I had spent two years answering these questions about his schooling and career and our future. Questions that I was beginning to realize, would soon hold no significance in my life.
As we spent the evening mingling among the reception crowd, I continued to push out of my mind the irony of it all. 18 months ago, this had been us. It had all happened so fast. Getting engaged, wedding dress shopping, getting married, moving into an apartment for married couples, and then finally, sitting in an ultrasound finding out that I had gotten pregnant while on birth control.
Preparing for motherhood became a healthy distraction from the problems in my very new marriage. Soon, we found out the baby was a boy, and my world began to revolve around creating a life for this baby that I would never have for myself. A life he felt empowered to do big, and bold things in. A life that, when I was in a very dark place, I already resented him for.
I wanted this life for myself first. The one that offered me the chance to chase the light I had seen. The one that told me life was more than a never ending climb up the worthiness ladder. That days could be filled with more than exhaustion and defeat and that living didn't have to hurt so much.
But the vows had been said, and now our lives revolved around paying double the bills and working double the shifts. It meant walking to and from campus with a growing belly, wondering if pregnancy would change the kind of person I would become. It meant spending the rare date nights we had on campus, projecting chemistry equations onto the white board and eating fast food, so we wouldn't have to interrupt studying. It meant spending free time researching the top medical schools for him to apply to, or searching the classifieds for people selling cribs or dressers to go in a nursery. It meant me building a hard exterior to the harsh words he’d use, and it meant me using them myself. It meant needing to try harder. Try harder to understand him. Try harder to not get offended. Try harder to be more selfless.
It meant the mere act of existing required rescuing. That I needed a child, a husband or a God in order to feel complete. That I wasn't enough on my own.
Soon the baby came and did what babies do. He shed a light onto my world I could never unsee. His heart beat for 5 days before he died in my arms. I hadn’t even had enough time to want him, before his broken body wouldn’t allow him to live any longer. As I left the hospital with empty arms and a hole in my heart that was the exact shape of his body, I couldn’t help but once again, feel helpless: Who in the fuck was going to rescue me from this? From burying this child that had my eyes and my nose and that I never got the chance to love?
Having braved the journey through that grief, I know now that the answers to this question wouldn't be found in another book. It wouldn't be found in another class, or another person.
I know now that where I really needed to begin, where we always need to begin, is sitting on the floor, with our eyes closed. That the first step I had to take, the first step anyone must take, is inward.
I know now that when I felt I had nothing to offer the world, that what I first needed to do was to sit on the earth beneath my feet, and find my breath. That all I could ever want, all I could ever need, the things I was convinced I would chase and scour the earth for, were waiting there, inside my chest. That was where I needed to start.
I know now that this gap between the life I was living, and a life I didn’t have to hide from, this would be filled by my own beating heart. I was and had always been, the answer I was looking for.
We are stitched together from star dust. We are balls of light. Limitless beings possessing all the wisdom we long for. I didn’t know then. But I know now.
Each morning I begin a meditative practice of coming back to myself, so that I can come back to love. I close my eyes, and bring my attention to the rising of my chest. The air fills the space around my hearts cavity, and each breathe raises my frequency into a place of joy. I feel a vibrating hum fill my body and a soft kinetic energy within my fingers. This is the source of all that exists. This is each of our essence, this hum. As the hum grows, everything softens in the space surrounding me and becomes a blur in the background.
I tap into my breath again, and find what remains. What is still there, when all the noise has quieted. This is my center. This is the sun licked part of earth that was born inside of me. That I was born into.
This is home.
I've been divorced for two and a half years now and I just a few blocks from the apt we used to live in and the cemetery my son is buried in. Still, things feel more clear, ever since I found meditation and ever since I picked up a camera. Meditation has brought me home to myself and photography has taught me to accept the present moment as it is. I don’t have to pretend anymore.
Now, most of my days I am lucky enough to spend working with a camera in hand, following and capturing the light I see around me. Sometimes it’s other people’s happy moments. Their pain, their joy, their heartache. Other times, it’s beautiful landscapes or events or products. Every shoot is a mosaic of colors and personalities and beautiful people. Of details and moments and creating things that didn't exist before.
And whether I'm chasing the light around me through a lens or on the ground in a meditative state, this light always leads me back to my center. And the more centered I allow myself to be, the less separate I feel from the people around me. The more centered I am, the smaller the gap becomes.
We are the answer to our healing, the more we find it in ourselves, the more we are able to help others find their own. This is mending the gap.