I haven’t posted to this blog for ages. In fact, I haven’t written at all for months. Truthfully—because I aim always to tell the truth here—I have been stuck in the realm of negativity. It sounds odd (or melodramatic) but even the weight of a biro between my fingers has felt like too much of a responsibility to bear. And so, at least in terms of the written word, I have stayed silent. Or is it better to say, invisible? For a long time, as a kid, if you’d asked me to choose a superpower I would have asked for invisibility. But in the real world, outside fantasy, for me, that isn’t possible. Whether or not I feel seen, my actions have consequences and impacts that ensure I am perceived. It is up to me, like it is up to everyone else, to try through those actions to shape positive impacts, worthy consequences. One thing I do that I know has some small impact is this blog so, in the spirit of growing visible again, I want (for the first time in months) to write. To write honestly.
In the realm of negativity, I felt I encountered a split path. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/ And sorry I could not travel both/ And be one traveller, long I stood” (Robert Frost). I have stood here a long time. Except, unlike Frost, I saw many splits in the path and for all I squinted through the yellow wood, I couldn’t see past the trees. I still can’t. I recognise (and thank) the fact that I have so many choices in my life. But choice can also be overwhelming. I feel overwhelmed.
I’ve always been a “big picture” person. Take the mundane example of housework: I often feel like things are done when other people can (apparently) clearly see that they are not. I notice the general gleam. Others notice the smudge on the skirting, the dust in the corners. It has its benefits and its drawbacks, this big picture view. The thing with being a “big picture” person, is that you learn to see the picture even when there is none. It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. Even though large chunks may be missing and the image may be fragmented, you know that this is temporary and so you hold in your mind a vision of the image that should be there and disregard the pieces that aren’t. This is uplifting in some ways. It lends hope because you know that no matter what, all these pieces (even the missing ones) are part of something greater. On the other hand, though, it is impossible to go through life simply not noticing that there are vital things missing from the picture. When you step closer, you notice the flaws and they can floor you. That’s how I’ve been feeling. Floored by flaws, unsettled. A person without a plan.
I’ve been here before, in this wood with the diverging paths. I’ve been here so often you’d think I’d have built a treehouse by now. But I haven’t, so is it a wonder I feel exposed? Is it a wonder I have the sense of having failed?
That’s it, though. The old clichés, the crappy Facebook memes, are true: if I haven’t given up, I haven’t failed. I almost gave up. In almost doing so, I could almost have lost everything and yet… here I am. Standing on shaky legs, sure, but standing nonetheless. It’s bleak sometimes, it’s dark sometimes, it’s hard always, but I’m here.
I wasn’t going to write. I was going to stay invisible. And then, last night, I was giving another person subtle advice and as always when giving another person advice, it felt easy. There’s time to figure things out, I said. It’s not over, I said. Nothing is ever perfect, I said, but that doesn’t mean things can’t be good. It doesn’t even mean they can’t be great. I looked at someone else’s tangle of paths and I saw a multitude of futures in them. It would be hypocritical, then, to look at my own and see none. Really, I still can’t see my own clearly. I am exactly as lost as I was before. But there are ways out (compasses, maps, guidance). Ways to higher ground from which, I hope, I will be able to see the bigger picture once again.