I WAS DOING absolutely everything I could to stay inspired as I continued to find my voice. I looked everywhere for opportunities to encourage or assist the people that encircled my life. I bought breakfast for the person behind me when I picked up my morning coffee and actively searched for anyone requiring a helping hand.
Every day I made a conscious effort to change how I interacted with my structured environment and the disenchanted people I encountered. I even kept a dozen five-dollar bills in my pocket to give to anyone you looked like they needed them more than I did. Saying thank you for every little thing in my life became an obsession. The smallest things others would do for me became hugely significant. It felt selfish at times because my primary reason for doing these acts was to stay inspired.
The spontaneous reactions produced would fuel not only my writing but my belief that each act of kindness would get me closer to my personal goals. I was looking for valid reasons to believe in moments of widespread uncertainty, and each time I would give something back I felt strengthened and inspired. I didn’t have a ton of monetary possessions I could donate but desperately tried to find innovative ways to give in return for spontaneous inspiration.
Once I released the conflicting feelings of guilt I was able to realize the freedom and power of giving. Getting something in return was no longer a dominant motive, inspiration became a by-product. If creativity or insight came, I would only show gratitude. Once I started to think from this mind, I found even more creative inspiration.
I knew the spiritual path I was following had alternative answers to my pain, but there were so many days I felt like I was running against a heavy wind. I couldn’t fight the conflicting feelings pouring into my spirit like a darkened rainstorm. I started using visualization techniques and affirmations to combat the thirty-seven years of negative programming trying to break me.
All the inspirational books and motivational videos I was consuming couldn’t adequately describe how difficult it was to stay in a positive state of mind while fighting for sustainable peace. There wasn’t a book written that could tell me exactly how to keep on the right side of depression because no one has walked in my shoes.
Every upward path is unique, and everyone has their bloodthirsty demons to conquer. I knew if I dared to keep walking the gravel road I would eventually find a way paved with my dreams and desires. I would imagine living in my new house surrounded by my family. I would picture myself intensely shaking the hand of a young looking brunette who was inspired to follow her passion after reading my book. I would get so much joy from the beautiful pictures I was creating I started to cultivate more and more.
I soon realized that many of the dramatic scenes I was scripting took place thousands of miles away in my hometown. It started to feel silly to imagine a memorable scene that would never come to life.
Although my wife had been pushing for us to move home for years I never really seen any plausible scenarios that this could work. We had a mortgage and steady jobs. We built a life in the city and to pick up and start over always seemed irresponsible to me. We would have to find a new place to live, new careers and start at the bottom of the food chain. To make a radical move of this magnitude and completely start from nothing was crazy in my mind.
We had some family and friends throughout the city, but my wife always felt she was missing something. Every time I conservatively thought about the possibility of relocating I formulated scenarios where things went disastrously. What if we couldn’t find good jobs in an economy that was declining. What if we couldn’t afford to pay our rent along with our mortgage. What if the romantic picture my wife was imagining wasn’t what awaited her on the other side. What kind of toll would this outcome take on our marriage?
There were so many reasons to mind trick myself that this was a bad idea. Could my ego handle starting from an empty canvas with a cheap paintbrush and an illusion only I could see through blended colors that surrounded my thoughts?
With a gap between meetings one afternoon, I decided to find a shaded bench, so I could sit and contemplate my preferred direction. I was doing this with more frequency and most breaks I had during my day I would find a comfortable place to sit and listen to music or the sounds of nature.
I remember the weather that day was strange. It was one of those rare days when the blinding sun was shining as isolated raindrops quietly fell on my freshly shaven head. Only a few clouds were resting in the vaulted sky above the sun as I attempted to find words to describe this meteorological phenomenon.
Like little diamonds in the air I tried catching the raindrops one by one. I could feel the warmth of the direct sunlight as each one touch my outstretched arm. I brought my hand closer and closed it gently to watch the irregular rainfall drip onto my bended knee. It was such an eerie feeling to sit underneath a rainstorm and stare into the sun. I was so captivated by the light reaching through the pouring rain that I lost my sense of reality and projected myself back to my hometown.
One by one, my eyes sunk back into my thoughts as the rain dissipated and evaporated into the afternoon sky. I leaned straightened against the parallel wooden slats and tapped my hands on both knees. The music booming from my headphones moved further down my side and occupied my fingertips. Each infected finger moved to the music as my moistened knees became like a piano elevated from the dingy basement to find its place on center stage. The reconstructed images of my hometown started to sync to the music playing in the center of my mind.
As the last lonely raindrop fell from the sky, I knew what direction I needed to take. I knew the journey home would be difficult, but it felt complete as the music guided my head back and forth. No questions were forming in my mind because at that moment I was the one asking the question. Is this the right path I asked myself?
I waited in silence for a couple of minutes but didn’t get an immediate response. However, when I opened my sunken eyes, the answer revealed itself within the romantic landscape in the distance. It wasn’t hidden but curved down from the heavens connecting with the earth. What stood over the mountains was the blended colors of a freshly created rainbow. I started to shake my head from side to side in shock because I couldn’t believe the timing of this brilliant rainbow.
Without the momentary silence, I don’t think I would have received it as a response. It wasn’t too long ago I was asked a question that changed the course of my life. Now within an unexplainable phenomenon, I was the one inquiring. It was time for a change, and it was time to return home.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain to my wife about the decision I just made. I had no idea how she was going to react. We talked about making a move over a year ago but never really talked about setting a date. I was always so fearful of the idea that I would change the subject immediately when I saw the thought forming on her tongue. Anytime she would talk about the logistics I would find something to divert her attention.
When I sat down at the kitchen table after returning home from work I desperately wanted to tell her I was ready. Each time the unspoken words were about to be released, I would think and rethink reasons why this was a terrible idea. I came up with around six different reasons to subtract and retract the decision I felt within the tranquility of the rainbow connection.
I decided to wait for a better time and helped my wife set the table. We had a beautiful display of veggies to go with our pasta boiling over in the steel pot. We sat in silence and both dove into our salads. I grabbed my empty fork and loaded the veggies one by one to bring them closer to my closed mouth. When I did this, again and again, my attention shifted to the position of the veggies. I noticed the colors of the red pepper, orange pepper, yellow carrots and freshly cut green lettuce sitting one on top of the other. As I stared at the curved fork, I could instinctively feel the colors of this little rainbow.
I removed the silence, and without hesitation, I told my wife I was ready to make arrangements to move back home before Christmas. My wife didn’t know how to react to what I was suggesting. Although I could see the sudden excitement flushing through her face, I also anticipated her anxiety approaching. I don’t think she ever thought I would seriously consider moving back to our hometown, but the tangible reality was hard for her to grasp.
We didn’t have much time to prepare, so my wife handled most of the details and proceeded to gather all the information and resources we needed to make our journey. If you have ever moved your family across the country, you will understand the amount of careful preparation required for such an unexpected departure. From big things like finding tenants for our home to small things like buying pet carriers for our animals. The administrative details were consuming our daily lives.
To completely change the direction of your life midstream can create a feeling of drowning or a floating sensation. There was a lot to accomplish, but I was confident it would unfold the right way. Saying goodbye to family and friends was difficult, but we felt it was the right river to cross. I resisted the move for many years, but it felt freeing to let go of the fear and embrace whatever waited for me on the other side.
When we arrived at the airport, it seemed a little surreal. We had been systematically planning our journey back home for a couple of months, but as we securely sat in the domestic terminal, it became apparent that there was no turning back.
Our house had renters, and all our possessions were either sold, given away or in route to our new destination. Although my daughter couldn’t comprehend our decision, we were now embarking on a new beginning. Our lives were about to change forever, and the everyday world of comfort we had built was being traded in for an uncertain existence in a place we once called home.
When we made our way through the adjoining hallway and approached the outside of the aircraft, my stomach turned. I didn’t have any reservations at that moment, but as the inner doorway opened, I felt uneasy. It was like the first time I ever flew. I couldn’t shake the nervous feeling as we found our empty seats. I tried to find a comfortable position but every way I shifted I felt enclosed.
Once the winged vehicle powered its way toward the lighted runway, I knew it was about to take flight. I heard the forceful wind blowing up against the wings as the engine was preparing to take off and pushed forward despite resistance. The adverse wind that looked like it could ground the plane was the same wind that lifted it into the moonless sky. The entire city shrunk as my exaggerated fears expanded.
When we made our way above the dark clouds, I could see my daughter looking for shelter under her mothers’ arms. Before long she was fast asleep, and the sophisticated aircraft leveled off to set course for its destination. As I looked down at her peaceful face, I still couldn’t free the nocturnal butterflies circling in my empty stomach.
Unsure of how to release the nagging worry and doubt rising I grabbed my trusty phone. One at a time I fastened my noise canceling headphones to each ear. I never had a song in mind, but I knew my connection to music had a sure way to lift me above the ominous clouds surrounding my excessive worry.
I leaned back in my cushioned chair, took a deep breath and pressed play. With my bowed head resting against the window overlooking the billowy clouds below I heard drumming. Seconds later I could feel instrumentals. One of my favorite songs of all time began to make its way from my cellular phone to my developing mind. I was listening to this song since high school but as the lyrics penetrated my tormented soul the circling butterflies vanished.
The song was Take Me Home by Phil Collins, and as I listened intently to the vocals, I began to hear something different in the song I never heard before. When the melodious song reached the chorus, I could feel myself getting lighter. The lyrics combined with the uplifting beat was transforming my worry into hope.
I felt so empowered by the emotions I had no reservations as the pools of water purposely flowed. Each salty tear fell onto my grandfather’s ring he’d given to me when I was a young man. Each one rolled off the back of my open hand with so much ease. I decided the worry that circled my mind wasn’t real. It was created and fueled by my thoughts. If I can generate the concern, I could also release it. I could change the view and let go of what I couldn’t control. What happens next was no longer my concern.
My only intention when the winged aircraft touched down was to feel the love of my family. That was the only thing I was sure was patiently waiting on the ground. All other self-inflicted fears and worries were figments of my growing imagination. I was tactically planning for worst case scenarios that may or may not take place, so I decided to take the look of worry from my face.
I felt such a sense of freedom when I released myself from this private prison. I was no longer a product of my fears but an observer of my thoughts. I can’t fully control what the stars will bring into my life. What I can control is my reaction and response to every scenario as it presents itself. From that point, I made a conscious choice to stop using my imagination to create unseen worry and only use it for the glory it was intended.
Check back in next Sunday for Chapter 6 – Accidental Discovery
WHEN THE STABLE aircraft was making its final descent through the broken clouds, I observed the rocky landscape surrounding the calmness of the ocean. With each measured kilometer dropped I could almost hear the harmonic waves pushing up against the shore. It’s only desire was to…Read Full Chapter