You’re standing on a busy street corner somewhere in the city at midnight and it’s pouring rain. You bought an umbrella last week but it’s currently at home hanging off your bedroom door, because the sky had been clear when you woke up that morning. It’s getting heavier. You step closer to the curb and try to hail a taxi. You’re reaching out but none of them are lit up. None of them are stopping for you.
Empathy creeps up on you in the strangest of moments – because that’s how it can feel sometimes. You’re out there with everyone else, but only in a physical sense. Mentally? You’re somewhere else. Sometimes you’ve got to shut the lights off for a little and take some time to sit in darkness.
When your light is off, it’s the universe’s way of telling you to slow the fuck down. Take a step back. It’s time to work on yourself. It’s time for a bit of maintenance. For a bit of healing. Time to patch up some of the holes and get a fresh coat of paint going.
When your light is off it’s a different type of loneliness. A self-imposed vow to head out on your own for a little while. You’re closed for business, but it’s not a permanent thing. You’re just not sure when you’ll be back – or what it may take to get you there.
Forward momentum is a wonderful thing, and it’s something everyone this age should strive for – but just like getting behind the wheel of a car, if you go too fast, losing control gets way too easy. Your grip on the journey is going to slip out of your hands.
It can be so easy to get lost – in other people, in life, in the mundane day-to-day that we’re all existing in. There’s a lot to be said about what we as humans are capable of. Not just externally, but internally. It’s easy to assume that we all collectively just grow into ‘getting it’, as naturally as we grow out of our baby teeth. That’s not how any of this works.
I was camping recently, a few hours down the coast. This perfect piece of paradise well off the beaten path. There was a big group of us, and as we always tended to, the days were spent downing beer and cider on this empty beach. It was late one afternoon and I’d wandered back up to grab something from the campsite and I was standing there alone. It was quiet and the sun was filtering down through green trees and I could hear these birds all around me; smell the smoke from campfires that were starting to spring up everywhere, as people got ready for the night.
So I walked, without even bothering to put shoes on. I cut my legs up, wading through the tangled scrub and then I ended up sitting on this cliff so far away from everyone else. The ocean was so enormous, and I was so small. I couldn’t see or hear anyone.
It was only in that place, when I shut everything out, that I could feel myself letting peace and clarity back into my life. They were two things I’d let slip away in recent years, so caught up in my own sprint towards the next chapter. They’re two of the most important tools you can possess as you front up for all the curve balls life seems so keen on throwing your way.
That’s just the thing; time slips past us, and it carries us all in such crazy directions – to places we never thought we’d go, with people we didn’t expect to go there with. You don’t realise how far you’ve wondered off the path until it’s too late. Then it becomes a game, to stumble back on track in the darkness. It might take a while. It might frustrate you, but you will get there. One day you’ll get there, and one day you’ll come to appreciate all those wanderings.
Close your eyes and think about it. Remember those moments. You’re standing by that road again, in the middle of the city at midnight. It’s raining, but that’s okay because it probably won’t be tomorrow – and even if it is? Who cares. Rain has this habit of washing away the dust and the dirt, all the stuff that clings stubbornly to the surface.
It shows you who you really are as it falls down from the sky. It makes everything new again.