Happy Valentine’s Day, Adam. I am so in love with the person that I am. Proud of the actions I take, the mistakes I make and the lessons I earn. It always feels like a long way to go, the moment you acknowledge you’re already here is the moment you know. Perfect in this moment. Perfect now. Tomorrow might not come, so keep your progress above your goals. Recognise where you’ve come from before you fantasise about the distance to go. When you’re proud of where you are, it does not matter the direction you go.
Periods of Change
My name is Adam. I’m a human being. Like you, I have many problems. My life is far from the perfect vision of money, cars and success we see in portrayed in the news and media. A far cry from the 24/7 high we proudly display on Instagram and Facebook. Everyday I feel like I could be doing better in a thousand different ways. My mind is constantly striving for improvement and change. Racing around at the suggestion of something being beneficial for my spiritual, physical, or emotional development. I’ve come to love my mind for what it is. Although that wasn’t always the case.
Way back in 2011 when I started university for the first time, it was, as it normally is, a period of massive change. I was living independently. Away from the refuge of lovingly, home cooked food and someone to keep a gentle eye on my bedtime. My mum always noticed – and informed me of – the bags under my eyes. Now, I would be co-inhabiting a living space with four other young men. Bright eyed and bushy tailed as my dad would say. Eager to experience all that life had to offer. I was fuelled by black out booze and a lust for casual interactions with the opposite sex. Eagerly attempting to lose my virginity with some semblance of grace and poise, although that grace and poise disappeared when out on the prowl. My actions during my first year at University were, at times, conflicting to the person I felt I wanted to be. Three or four nights a week I would be out drinking. Howling at women who would talk to me. Gawking at the rest. Finding friendship in a few, amongst the hormonal noise. My actions seemed normal. It was what my friends were doing. Why couldn’t I be content? I was normal wasn’t I? Or was I?
The internal conflict I was experiencing continued to grow within my mind. Fuelled by the Guinness, beer and vodka I claimed to enjoy so much. Yet the feeling was unavoidable. The hangovers became more than a physical discomfort. They were a mental onslaught that I came to crave, as if the only escape from the nagging hangover was another beer. I remember one night I paused my predrinking activities for a quick toilet break. Sticking both fingers down my throat I coerced the ill feeling out of my stomach with a splash. A crash. I returned to the kitchen and downed my drink as a hero amongst men. Nobler for the experience of overcoming the night before. Anchor Sundays, Havana Mondays, Anchor Tuesdays, Kellys Wednesdays and Thursday Club – my midweek diary. Some days there would have been classes. My grades sinking faster than you could say yes to another jaeger bomb?
Amongst the booze and conflict there were a trial of emails from my concerned studies advisor. Worried about why my attendance had slipped and why I wasn’t responding (an early introduction to ghosting). I say a trial; there were two. Then he left the ball in my court for me to take action, but I was playing a different game. The pain within me was growing by the day. I had sacked off all my classes because I didn’t see the point. Change was coming but I didn’t know how. Naively convincing myself that StudyUSA held the answer to all my problems. Pouring hours into researching the perfect university, the perfect second choice and exploring the endless options that would await me. No longer confined to computing and business modules. I dreamt of Japanese and culinary classes. And everything in between. Just to convince myself I was doing something. I was doing something. Procrastinating.
There came a point of no return. A point where something had to change. So I choose to change my degree. Just before my nineteenth birthday I walked in for a chat with my studies advisor. By this point I had it all figured out. I was going to apply for Marketing at Jordanstown. I had the necessary BBB at A-Level. I had great first year marks, a first class student, who managed to strike a balance for a while. I also had the support and love of my amazing family. Especially my mother, who to this day continues to support me in every decision that I make. Continues to tell me that she loves me. Not despite or in spite of my mistakes, but because of them. Because the mistakes we make are what make us, individuals. After my degree I would get a job in marketing in Northern Ireland for a couple of years. To get some experience. Because everyone knows you need experience and it’s better to get experience at the bottom when you’re in Northern Ireland because Northern Ireland is small and there’s less competition and it’s not as expensive and it’s home and it’s this and it’s that and this or that and so much else that I can’t even comprehend or begin to remember right now. What I’m trying to say is my mind was out of control. It was affecting every decision I was making because I gave it so much power. I fed it the superfood of self doubt. Each pint I drank quenched the thirst of resistance. Preying on my anxieties. Gorging on the conflict I was creating with each action that was untrue to myself.
Opportunities Arising From Depression
Before writing any of this, I read a young man share his story of his battle with anxiety and depression. House bound and down. Didn’t want to see the world. Afraid of what his mind would condemn in the people and things around him. As I read through his incredible article, my mind thought, hold on. What if depression is your mind and body saying, these things that you’re doing. All this drinking and these video games. All this socialising, where you get drunk until you pass out or vomit. Encouraged by the collective male psyche that surrounds you. That surrounds all your friends. That surrounds our society and culture. All these things, that you feel you have to do, to be normal. What if they’re not meant for you? What if depression or anxiety, a mental challenge, is something that you can use as the catalyst for change within yourself. Because that’s the only way we have any semblance of control over change. And even then, we don’t have control over the outcomes.
For me, my mind has been up and down and left to right for a while. It’s no longer something I try and change but something I am learning to accept, fully. Learning to accept the way that I see the world and to act in a way that reduces the internal conflict I feel. It’s still there. It burns inside me. The fire has been lit and there’s no stopping it. While it spreads like wildfire, I’ve found an outlet for it, it’s got some direction now. I fan the flame every time I put pen to paper. And I humble the fire each time I meditate. I want to feel the fire within me. Under my direction. Each day is a new beginning. If you wake up, you’re granted the opportunity to have one more day on earth, don’t spend it fighting with yourself. If you’re sad, be sad. Go into that feeling of loneliness or resentment or hatred or whatever emotion it is you are feeling. Allow it to sweep over you. And love yourself anyway. Because you’re perfect. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy, sad, angry or not really anything in particular. You are you. Be you completely. I love you.
Did some video mashing tonight.
Naked headstands, for Noemi.
Feels like a fun way to interpret,
the poem I wrote for her.
How long will she stay on my mind,
as the one that got away?
She’s still in my heart today.
It all felt so easy, to be with her, you see.
In silence, in laughter, in blazing row,
I always wanted her. I loved her.
Too easy to romanticise the ones that get away.
Look to the present moment, Adam.
The unescapable reality of that place.
My monkey mind is seeking a distraction.
Craving getting blocked. Life is hard sometimes,
but running isn’t the solution.
Or is it? Time to take Irlanda for a walk.
There’s so much to see and do and say;
I’m fixated on your memory,
The times just you and I.
A supernova in my life,
That was too quick to die.
See you walking down the street,
Some hair up in a bun.
Feel your breath in mine,
As I sit in contemplation on my bum.
You met me as my best self,
I set my bar quite high.
Yet one mistake later,
You hung me out to try.
I want to say I’m sorry,
For the errors I did not see.
They sit in unknown darkness,
Staring back at me.
Since I met you,
Underwear doesn’t feel the same.
Since I met you,
I haven’t been able to shoulder the blame.
Since I met you,
My life has karate flipped upside down.
Since I met you,
My world now has Spaniards all around.
Since I left you,
I have been full of suspicion.
Since I left you,
I haven’t trusted my intuition.
Since you left me,
My heart has screamed in anguish.
Since you left me,
My soul has been left to languish.
I know exactly where you are.
To walk, to run, to swim, it is too far.
So with this verse, I close the book.
Feeling not like a King or lover, but a crook.
Step up and be a man.
You have the power
To do what you can.
Now cometh the hour.
You savoured the high
Now relish the low.
The moment is nigh,
It is time to grow.
We shared beautiful moments,
Without a shadow of doubt.
New love. Wants and desires
At the forefront.
Honesty, is how relationships grow.
It was a physical affair
Now share, emotionally.
Let go of rejection.
It is one woman.
Put yourself out there;
Embrace the suffering.
Words for words sake;
Everything lost in between
Easy to walk away in silence.
Running out of space to hide;
Do not be fearful for your pride.
It has already died
Each moment you do, you win.
And you can win. For winnings sake.
Language fills so much silence.
Christianity takes ups time,
Explaining the unexplainable.
If you sit on the unknown; Zen appears.
God goes by many names.
They mean everything; and nothing.
Slow down. Feel.
Dios has many names.
Enjoy Jainko, one moment at a time.
Never forget. You are.
For as long as I can remember I have dismissed age as just a number. What else is it? The number of times your body has held onto the Earth as it has spun around the Sun. Age doesn’t do anything to determine what your life will be like. Nobody can say with confidence, I’ll be this or that when I am 30. This or that when I am 45. Finally past my youth at 87. I hope to be forever young. I hope to see the world through the eyes of a child everyday. If that makes me weird, so be it. Good.
There’s no right way to live your life. There’s no path that everyone should follow. Yet society constructs arbitrary goals that we, at times, mindlessly work towards. For me the biggest mindless goal was university. Go to uni, get a degree, get a job. Grow up. Why? I had an incredible time at university. Six years across two campuses at Ulster with a wealth of life experience under my belt. Stress, temptations, challenges on a wave of highs and lows.
Balancing out started in March. It started by getting up half an hour earlier than usual. Coming downstairs and typing into YouTube, 20 minute guided meditation. I’m not going to say that 20 minutes changed my life. It has changed my outlook on life, but it’s the consistent practice that has lead to change. Not one 20 minute experience.
Since that happened I have been told on three occasions that I am too young to understand and when I am older I will see the world for what it is. Well, I’m calling bullshit. There isn’t an age where people get their life together. There isn’t even a moment. Life isn’t something to hold together. Life is something to dive into head first, kicking and screaming like the big child that you are.
Children are incredible learners. They learn from their mistakes far quicker than adults do. They see the world as the mystery that it is. They don’t have expectations about what should happen. When do we develop these? Whose life are we living? Am I too young to have these? Even though my peers have them.
For me, the mystery of life is a wonder. A wonder that can be enjoyed by knowing thy self. When you are conscious of what drives you. What sparks a fire in your belly. Then you can live your life in the pursuit of those goals. You might be surprised at how you can survive on a little. Turning down money, to free up time. Time is the resource we cannot get more off. Even the King, can only eat one meal at a time. Sleep in one bed at a time.
So take life easy, as the grass grows. Look around once in a while and ask why you’re moving in the direction you’re heading. Who is guiding your decisions? Are you seeing the world with childlike enthusiasm?