In January 2015 I submitted my poetry manuscript to the publisher for a spring release and 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 that I had just given away my most prized possession (the one I had been working on for the past 18 years)?
The next ten seconds changed the course of my life. In those moments I somehow mustered up enough courage and know-how to figure out what I needed to do, before landing myself into what could have become a deep, 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 Mom says
I’m acting like a baby.
More innocent, determined,
Suddenly the world opens up again
Craving my favorite friend, whom,
despite not knowing him all that well,
I describe, like so:
always on your side.
It’s good to know a guy name Joe
who keeps you moving when things are slow.
New beginnings can be bittersweet because they often happen during times of ending, times of grief. A new relationship comes only after a time of solitude or a break-up. A new career brings about feelings of change and fear, which are often hard to face. A new goal replaces one that has finally been accomplished. In these very moments some of our most significant growth happens. How we respond and react to a given situation either sling-shots us forward, leaves us stationary, or bounces us backward in our evolutionary quest.
Taking a moment to honestly evaluate your sadness can help guide you toward your next, great steps. It is often too easy 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 only makes sense to embrace the process of adaptation and modify oneself. After all, change is inevitable. Might as well come to the ceremony prepared.
This week's featured artist is photographer lidija A. Fremeau of LAF Lines Photography, Inc. She and I collaborated on the publication of Chemistry, Not Science: A Book of Poems, released Spring 2015.