Today is hot. So hot the squirrels can’t even handle it. Not that I have much sympathy for them, since they’ve been ripping up my garden. Any advice on how to keep those critters out of my zucchini would be appreciated.
I’m trying to beat the heat by sitting in the shade of my porch and doing a bit of self-reflection and carving. They tend to go together fairly well, as long as I don’t get too deep in thought and skip the blade into my finger. I’ve been working on this guitar body for months and I didn’t seem to be making any progress but slowly but surely it’s starting to form itself into some semblance of what the design was intended to be. Still lots of work to go though!
And since I can’t do much else but write and lightly carve – this post is going along a bit of a different vein. I’ve had all day to sit at my desk and really think about where my life is heading. I’ve been so wrapped up in being happy and not really thinking about why I’m so happy, because for a long time I wasn’t.
Sure, the obvious things – a fantastic partner, great roommates, steady job, some semblance of a plan for the future, a bit of stability in my life – all things that I could say have changed to make me a happier, more grounded person. But, these things, as I’ve learned in the past, can be pretty fleeting. Here today, gone tomorrow.
So then, the question is would I still be a happy, grounded, self-confident individual if I lost them all again? What’s different now as opposed to when I thought I was happy and healthy in the past? How do I keep this personal level of happiness? Of course, I’m not saying I have to be happy every minute, of every day, of every month of the year, but there should be some steadiness to who I am and how confident I am of being able to overcome things if they turn about as sour as the poorly made lemonade that I’m drinking right now.
And the more I think about it, the more I’m realizing that the difference is openness. I have always been very good at prying other people’s stories out of them – and also very good at keeping mine to myself. I’m fantastic at surface level friendship – on my part – because I can count pretty high the amount of people that have called me a “best” friend without ever really knowing me. I have the art of pretending and the practice of faking down to a T. I have a smile that can disarm a situation in about 5 seconds flat – and I use it too often.
It is hard for me to look back on the last quarter of my life and realize how I have hurt people by holding onto things that I knew were awful, by letting someone believe I loved them because it was easier than letting them go. It is lonely living your life like you’re acting your part in a play, and never taking a break to be the real you. These things I already knew, and was working on…I’ll admit though that I wasn’t in a huge hurry to change.
But, I never really realized just how inept I was at letting myself be vulnerable until someone called me out on it.
“I’ve seen British Raff, and Aussie Raff, and Southern Raff, and grumpy Raff, and funny Raff – but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the real Raff.”
And I think that was the first time anyone ever noticed, or at least told me, that I really suck at being honest about how I feel about a situation.
So, I’m working on that, and it is amazing the difference that takes place in your relationships when you start consciously deciding to let people see the raw, underlying person that you’ve been hiding for a long, long time.
It’s terrifying at first, to not wait for people to chip away at the walls you’ve built and instead pre-emptively open the gates for them. It means being confident enough in yourself to let others see the sides of you that maybe you don’t really care for – and by showing them – it gives you that much more incentive to be a better person. To change the things you can, and accept the things you can’t.
I’ve found that letting myself be vulnerable, going after things with utter abandon – failing, and getting back up – is a lot more fun that locking myself up in my basement for fear of being hurt again. Some people embrace their scars because they tell a good story, one that not only you – but other people can learn from too, and I want to be one of those people.
Sure, there will be hurt, and I’ll definitely fail again – several more times probably – but being able to take those failures in stride, take the lessons and learn from them, let other people see those failures and learn from them too -maybe that is what stability is. Knowing that life, by very definition, is not stable,, and that despite what happens, you have yourself and you aren’t ashamed, or scared, or hidden behind a curtain of falsehood…
Am I an expert on the subject? Hell no.
But I think that’s happiness.
At least for me.
Now back to carving.