I think I’ve lost the ability to just sit down and write. So I’m doing it now. I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor of my room, committing to a page. No, wait. That’s a bit daunting. Let’s size it down. To a sentence, maybe? Fine, a word.
The word is Pause. Why? I don’t know, maybe because it’s like Life has been on fast forward lately, like everything is in a hurry to get somewhere quick lest some grotesque monster eat them up and spit them out to rot on the sidewalk. Pause because I’m frightened of all the decisions I’m making and I want a moment to myself wherein I can just talk to Me and say Keep Calm Damn It Or Else. Pause because someone I am fond of (okay fine, very fond of) has just left and while I know he’s going to be back after ten months, my heart feels heavy, like someone has just filled it with lead.
There was one quiet afternoon, just two weeks ago, when I was on a bus, gazing outside the wide glass window. Daylight was fading in the prettiest of ways, painting the sky in pastel shades of pink and purple with streaks of lemon yellow. John was beside me – eyes closed, chin tilted upward, lips slightly parted – and the only sound was the whir of the bus motor. I wanted very badly to hold on to that particular moment, place it on the palm of my hand, examine it from all angles, then fold it up neatly and put it in my wallet for safekeeping. I wanted to reach out and grip the edges of the pastel sky, hold it in place, or maybe pull it close like a security blanket, to keep it from unveiling the brooding colors of the night.
I held on for as long as I could, taking in the spectrum of colors, the rosy landscape, the shafts of sunlight shining from behind an awe-inspiring tower of clouds. I followed the scene even as the road turned and twisted, bringing the view of the sunset to the windows on the opposite side of the bus and I stood up a bit, straining to see the gradual change of colors. John woke up just as the last rays of light disappeared behind a wall of purple clouds.
Afterwards, I plopped on my chair, leaned back, and tilted my head towards the window beside me, expecting only darkness. I let out a small gasp and tugged on John’s sleeve excitedly. A full moon, set against a dark sapphire sky, was rising slowly above the inky silhouettes of mountains and vast shadowy fields. A few times, we passed by a pond or a lake, and saw moonlight glinting off the wavering surfaces so they looked like pools of quicksilver. It was unreal. Only minutes ago, I was sighing over the remnants of a blushing sky. On the same road, we came upon the tranquil beauty of the night.
If I could pause Life right now, I would. Most people think chasing your dreams is a blissful and peaceful pursuit, but in fact it’s the complete opposite. It is a chaotic and confusing endeavor, and most of the time, I do not know what I’m doing. My friend, Guido, described an image that perfectly captures the experience. He likened it to riding a lion. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems super cool and amazing and by golly, wow, how the hell are you doing that, you are on fire! But the one riding the lion? All he’s thinking is, why the hell am I here and how do I stay on and not get eaten, and oh my God those teeth are razor sharp!!!!!
There are countless times when I just want to get off and find something tamer. A horse, maybe or hey, that sheep looks mighty comfortable. But then –
You need but a moment of looking up and around to know that you are exactly where you have to be. The little things like a glimpse of a setting sun and a rising moon on a moving bus are sometimes enough to affirm what you’ve always known: That this lion is your Lion, and you stay on because you have no need or cause to be anywhere else. It will only get harder, and you will have bite marks or scratches to show for it. You’ll get thrown off and trampled on. You’ll question your strength and sanity again and again. You’ll walk away, only to change your mind after a few paces and charge back howling some weird battle cry. You’ll scream bloody murder, curse the high heavens, and cry tears of desperation and frustration. And every now and then, you’ll do something right. But then you’ll be back on the ground before you can shout hooray.
That is the price you must pay to stay on.
But having met the crazy people who went after theirs – seeing the determined looks on their faces and hearing their impassioned words – I can say that there is one thing we can at least be certain of: There is no better, more noble way to live.