Not surprisingly, I found myself telling a friend the other evening, over anise tea on a plant-filled rooftop, that I was revising my goal of bettering myself: I was going to strive to better my taco intake instead.
How does one even attempt such a goal: to scrub up the person you have been your entire life? Even if I have an easier time of it (I like to think that at 28-years-old my character is still somewhat agreeable to scrubbing), it's the approach that wants further definition.
My friend, who spent a year living in Shanghai, advised me that it was impossible to not change, and it was equally infeasible to see how I'd changed while still in the milieu of my making (or unmaking, as it may be). I have to wait until my return to see the fruits of my labour.
And what of this labour? I've half-heartedly tried prayer and meditation. I've attempted to increase my cultural understanding by meeting new people from a variety of walks of life, living as the locals do, trying new foods, speaking the language. And yet what exactly will be the result? My ex-boyfriend once told me, in his tiny steamy kitchen while cooking me succulent fish with olives, that I needed to live somewhere that would "blow apart the person that you are." I detested him for that comment, mostly because he refused to fall in love with me, wanted me obliterated even. And yet the comment rankled; maybe I was still a tad too small. I needed to get away from him anyway; I conspired to leave Toronto.
So here I am, trying to be big and bad, baby. I'm finally taking the time I need to write. I'm finally taking the time to take care of my mental health. I'm finally taking time, oodles of it, in fact--I'm practically bathing in days of luxurious coffee breaks, market visits, cooking experiments, and walks under an endlessly sunny southern sky.
And yet, for what?
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that stillness of mind and sanctity of purpose really is the end goal--well, why? Perhaps I just want to be good, to finally be on the winning side. I want to swallow the world with my ego. I want to be right. I want to know the way ahead with precision; I cannot.
What I really want is to be safe. I've realized what incredible lengths I've gone to to seek security. How many times have I puddle-jumped from supposed safe harbours, whether it be a friend, a lover, a partner, or whoever really happens to be thrown into my path. I have grasped after crumbs, I have known great love. And all of it, a whirlpool of drama and confusion that has consumed most of my adult life. Where is room for me in all of this?
To let go for love is sensational, to let go for whatever simulacrum of love stumbles across my path is whatever is truly small about me. And yet, I'm only intermittently able to resist. Survival is all, a short-sighted view if there ever was one. And yet, the oasis presents itself: I drink. Respite. Either the weakness becomes a strength, or strength obliterates the weakness. Can someone please help me with this?