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Staying Up: Hope is a Matter of Perspective
Last year on January first, I woke up between two cars parked just beside a road that looked out from Tomales Bay’s eastern shore. I had…
Last year on January first, I woke up between two cars parked just beside a road that looked out from Tomales Bay’s eastern shore. I had gone to bed at five in the morning as the party was winding down and I was cold. I kept waking up when the cool wind picked up, brushing across my face. I would open my eyes to the quiet sky above me and the two cars. It felt as though I was in an alleyway, and the cars were tall buildings in a lost and quiet part of a city. I had no shelter. No place to truly call home except for the ground, which is always welcoming.
When I got up, the sky was bright blue. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I got up to sit by the water. I felt the air pass me in rhythmic intervals of cold like some day-time ghosts. It was beautiful. And quiet. Peaceful.
Even though I knew that I was looking out to something beautiful, a scenic vista of a small bay flanked by ragged mountains and soft hills on either side, sitting beside my friends slowly raising up from the high-key night we had, I felt like shit. Not hungover, though I definitely was a bit, but more so just unrelentingly tired and sad. I didn’t see too much hope. The months before then I was pretty low and lost. There just hadn’t been too much love around me. I spent most of my days alone, thinking about everything in the world, or distracting myself from these thoughts with YouTube videos. I know now that I was not without love. I just couldn’t see it back then. I had decided that I was alone, that I was lonesome and sad, and that the blues were my game to run.
And so seeing all my friends faces as we sat at this turnout beside the road, everyone so sweet in the sun, I got even more sad, knowing we’d all be dipping soon, all be returning to our separate lives and places up the California Coast. And I’d be alone again.
Selfish thinking, I know.
But that day I set out my intentions for the year and things began to change. I travelled a bit through the year, visiting good friends, trying to once again ground myself in the love that I once knew within. I got a new job and there I found a place I felt welcome. Through the year I began to let go of my pride that I still so easily mix up with my emotions like epoxy, and instead began to fertilize a genuine confidence, a love of myself undefined by others. And even as I fell off from this thinking at times and caved into the comfortable crevice of my own self-loathing solitude, I was able to exit it quickly. And even as I feared for the world (reading too much news and a lot of Orwell) I was able to see what I longed for and needed most. I opened up my heart and let it feel itself again. And so, even while the stupid din of my man-baby thoughts lingered through parts of the year, I found that the year was still okay. Hey, it might’ve been successful in parts too. For me, it was.
Yet I still couldn’t completely escape that feeling I had on the first of January, 2019. I had decided to let the emotional low of that day dictate negative perspectives throughout the year (This is a symptom of my own superstition that how the year begins, so it will be. I am trying to let go of this since I see more clearly now that, in truth, my emotions waver more with the seasons than anything else). Throughout 2019, I let pity and hate win out in my heart a lot more than I am proud to admit. I even became passive about love, about art, about politics, about climate change, about our world in general, even while I grew personally more hopeful, more honest, more “alive.” Yet thinking back on this past year, I realize that it wasn’t bad. Actually much of it was good personally. I worked hard on my writing, I kept fit, I ate well, I drank water, made new friends. But throughout the year I just didn’t want to enjoy these tangibly good things simply because they didn’t link up with the thoughts I had in my salty little head on January first.
I guess I’m writing this as a reminder to myself and maybe to others to just stay up. To get hyped and be hopeful. We can create stories in our heads so brilliant with delusion that they become the rhetoric that we long to see validated in our social feeds and day-to-day lives, so it’s important to contemplate how those stories may be rewritten. Easier said than done, of course. Reshaping our vision of the world is a constant tinkering, much like tending to plants or painting.
I also write this because, as I woke this January first with a bad hangover, I felt so good and light — the complete antithesis of last January first. I walked slowly to my mother’s house through a warm and sunny day, oddly out of season for the first of January. I lay on the couch with my sister, her partner, my mom, and her partner, not really able to contribute much as I drank a mimosa. But I felt content. I went home and spent the rest of the day pretty much alone. I wasn’t worried about the future, because I have a good feeling about this year. I can’t articulate why without getting into too much philosophy and politics so I’ll just leave it at that.
It really is a matter of perspectives. And yes, shit is shitty out there, and Australia is burning, and the United States and Iran are definitely not into each other right now, and Brexit is chaos along with Hong Kong, and it seems that political manipulation via the internet is growing quite a bit. But we just can’t let this shit keep us down. Instead it should motivate us to make change truly happen. It’s rough out there and if we’re low and cynical how they hell are we going to get up, even if all we are trying to do is live?