On starting over
Updated: Aug 4, 2021
In January 2015, my first poetry manuscript was complete and on schedule for a spring release. I expected to be happy. Proud. Inspired.
Instead, I felt empty.
Was it because I couldn’t turn my shoulder in that exact moment and share the joy with someone in the form of a hug, kiss, or, heck—even a high-five? Or, was it because I felt I had just given away a cherished possession (one I had been working on for the past 18 years)?
The next ten seconds likely changed the course of my life. In those moments, I mustered up enough courage and know-how to do exactly what I needed to keep out of my inner well, better known as deep and relentless depression.
What I did was write the following poem:
One moment, one day, one year
as I stray from usual thoughts,
recognition sets in:
my previous work is at least part-ways done;
standing at the end means
it’s none other than time
to begin once again.
I feel like a child,
but not in the way a mom says
you're acting like a baby.
More innocent, determined,
Suddenly, the world opens up
I look to a friend who,
despite not knowing him long,
I'd describe like so:
on your side.
Ahh... it's good to know a guy name Joe
who keeps you moving when things are slow.
New beginnings are often bittersweet because they happen during times of ending, times of grief. A new relationship follows a time of solitude or a break-up. A new career re-introduces feelings of novelty, change and fear. A new goal follows one that is now accomplished, or perhaps, was never achieved. In these moments, some of our most significant growth is allowed to happen. How we respond and react to a given situation either slingshots us forward, leaves us stationary or bounces us backward in our evolutionary quest.
Taking a moment to honestly evaluate feelings of sadness can help guide you toward your next, great step. It's quite simple to deny ourselves an authentic moment to acknowledge this emotion, especially with so many external temptations promising an easy fix (e.g. sex, alcohol, drugs, impulsivity). However, we know life is anything but easy and these methods provide only temporary relief. Admitting that a form of sadness can and does exist, even during times of happiness, is one way to begin breaking free from the notion that something new always signifies a time of glee. Ironically, moving past this denial phase promotes happiness in due time.
We all know what happens to good things. (They come to an end). So, plan ahead. Think about ways you might cope, or things you would want to do or have if you found yourself starting over in some way. Just as maturity follows youth and something new eventually grows old, it makes sense to embrace the potential for change and ponder ideas of how you might adapt.
After all, change is inevitable. Might as well come better prepared to its next ceremony.
This week's featured artist is photographer lidija A. Fremeau of LAF Lines Photography, Inc. Together, lidija and I collaborated on the publication of Chemistry, Not Science: A Book of Poems (Meridia Publishers, 2015).