It's been a challenging year.
There's the global political and environmental disasters, the ratcheted hate and fear, the never-ending news cycle of pain and unrest, but it recently became personal. You see, I severed ties with three of my closest family members. They were making choices I couldn't abide, hurting people I love, including me. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of a good therapist, friends, and other healthy family members.
Probably unsurprisingly, my decision increased stress in my home, and I've frozen my husband out for the past week. For only the second time in my life, I need sleeping pills because when I lay down, my brain whizzes around my skull like a flaming monkey. My rest is uneasy, filled with nightmares.
Except last night.
Last night, I dreamed that I discovered a cabin by a river. I recognized it as my own house, except it was messy. I found my kids in the front room, sleepy but happy, and so I traveled to the basement to research why I had let the place get so dirty. Two people who shall not be named tried to keep me from reaching a room at the rear of the basement, the one with the glowing light emanating from under the door, but I mind-asked, and the door opened. An old, wise Asian man (am I embarrassed that my subconscious' reference points are pure 1980s stereotypes? you bet I am) beckoned me in. He opened his arms and he held me while I wept.
"You can ask me one question," he said.
I knew exactly what it would be: "When will things get easy again?"
He didn't skip a beat. "You didn't think they were easy before," he said.
My alarm went off exactly then, my subconscious crashing into my conscious, leaving me no choice but to agree. I've had some particularly low points, including the suicide of my first husband, but here's the deal: if you had asked me at any point in my life if I was happy/it was easy, even the high points, I would have hesitated. I've always wanted more money, less belly fat, more travel, more time to write, more more more...I've always envisioned this moment in the gauzy future where things will be easy, I will be happy, and there will be balance.
My subconscious was very clear on this point: that moment doesn't exist. Or rather, it always is, and you recognize it or you don't. I know. To even be able to entertain this perspective is a privilege. A Syrian refugee, or a parent searching for a child in the rubble of the Mexico City earthquake, someone not sure where their next meal will come from, a teen dealing with depression, and billions more would switch places with me in a blink. Still, I don't think this message was meant only for me. I can't be the one only wasting the now by pining for a when.
After the dream, I had this Note from the Universe pop up in my email:
"In case you didn't know, you couldn't tell, or you haven't heard...
If you're reading this right now on a phone or computer, Jessica, you're rich.
If you have somewhere to go today, you're connected.
And if there is anyone, anywhere, who for any reason knows where you are at this moment, you’re loved.
Dang, you just keep acing time and space.
Can't argue with that.
Live in the now. Practice gratitude, be self-aware, laugh at any opportunity, ally with those fighting the good fight, and create art. It's not easy, but it is the point. At least that's what the guy in my basement told me.
Join Ali and me June for our women’s wellness retreat in France where we will write, laugh, and live.