Today I wished the world would stop spinning just for a moment or two.
I wished for more time to meet my deadlines, answer all those emails that have been piling up for months, empty my closet of old clothes, dust the floorboards and cut my toenails.
I looked for a pause button to press, but the world just spun madly on.
Sometimes I feel like I’m on a train that’s going so fast I can’t make out where I’ve been, where I am or where I’m going.
Sometimes I lose total sight of who I am.
Sometimes I pray for the silence and the stillness of the pouring rain.
Nearly four years ago I packed my life into the back of a station wagon and headed west. I left my hometown with nothing but a broken heart, my favourite books, and a suitcase (or three) of clothes. I was hellbent on reinventing myself and figured that the easiest route to get there was in the shedding of my old self.
I thought that by the time I reached the Pacific I’d have figured everything out.
I thought that the rain would wash away all the hurt, sadness and confusion of my past and I would be left with a sense of total clarity. I thought I would finally get to be with myself.
And it worked for a while. I spent those first few weeks before beginning work exploring the rain-covered streets of my new city and marveled at just how unfamiliar everything was. I let myself get lost in dark alleys and discovered an independence and a resilience I had never known.
I sat in coffee shops for hours and hours and watched the parade of umbrellas pass by the foggy windows. I took a notebook with me everywhere I went and when inspiration would strike – which it did frequently – I would write and write until the shops closed up.
At twenty three years old, I was, for the first time in my life, alone. For a while, the freedom of having no ties to anyone or anything fueled my happiness and creativity.
It was weeks before I began to feel the weight of emptiness press down.
When the loneliness hit me me, I began to fill it with the only cure for emptiness that I’d ever known.
My eating disorder became my constant companion then.
I remember standing on the scale in my aunt’s bathroom, believing that the lower the numbers went, the more meaning my life took on.
Years later, I’ve learned to stay away from the scale, but I’m still not sure I’ve learned to simply be with myself. I fill my life with other things to ensure that I’m never truly alone enough to let the emptiness creep back in.
Which is perhaps why I feel like I’m on a speeding train that’s headed for a breakdown.
Life is busy and my inbox, my closets and my floorboards aren’t going to clear themselves. But I’ve been obsessing about them in the same way I’ve obsessed about every possible pound I’ve gained since the day I swore I was never going to obsess about my weight again.
The train I’m on? As I write these words, I’m beginning to see that it exists purely in my mind. Time is ticking away at the same rate it’s always done. I am not farther or nearer from myself than I’ve ever been. My life has no more or less meaning than it did yesterday or will tomorrow.
I am no more or less empty than I was at 10, or 19, or 27, or will be at 53 or 89.
I don’t need the rain, or the Pacific, or a new dress, or a parade of umbrellas to remind me that I have always been and always will be, exactly where I’m at and as I am.