Each step I took along a long, dark, road was one step away from the past and one step closer into the future. I turned around and looked back at where I had just came from and realized just how far I had traveled in the span of half an hour. My eyes traced the sidewalk as it thinned out and curved around a slight turn. Headlights of a car began to peer around the corner and before they met my eyes, I turned around and continued to walk.
“Three miles,” I thought.
It would be 2.4 miles, actually.
The walk was calming and I found myself rambling, just emptying my thoughts and views through a phone.
It is funny how it works out. How we have these ideas, or thoughts, but we cannot fully describe them or put them into perspective until someone else, or something else, does it for us. We see a scene in a movie, or hear a verse of a song, or a paragraph in a book, and then all of a sudden we think to ourselves, “That is what I have been trying to say.”
This happened on my said walk.
Buddhists speak of life as a system of never ending struggles. They speak of life and how it is built on the premise of suffering and desire. To escape suffering, we must escape desire. This belief follows along with a simple saying that I hold true to myself, and often remind myself when I feel pulled towards something I may be unsure about: Remove yourself from temptation and temptation will cease to surround you.
We wake up each morning and have the ability to choose what we shall make of our day. Each day is a blessing, some say, but to others one day may be a curse. It may be a day filled with pain of a bygone era or time where we are forced to swallow our pride and push forward, wading through the thick underbrush in an attempt to simply reach our own bed again at night where we shall rest and escape the often rough realities that can plague one’s mind all in the span of a twenty four hour period.
It is hard, almost unspeakably difficult, to remove yourself from desire. That is why few have been able to achieve that status that one man, Siddhartha Gautama, reached many moons ago. He sought enlightenment and gave it to the world when he achieved it. In doing so, he became the Buddha, but he also gave everyone on earth a chance to achieve it too. Buddha is everyone and anyone. Each one of us has the opportunities to reach our own place of solace, and sometimes we choose to embark on the crusade towards that place. Yet, during that journey, we are forced to realize our flaws. We begin to see ourselves for who we are and what we truly stand for; what defines us. We make the hardest decision: to love ourselves.
To love who you are is to say that you can be flawed, but that you accept that.
It is to say that you have made mistakes, but that you accept that.
It is to say that you can always improve, but that you accept that.
It is to see yourself as a broken person, but to accept that.
It is to see that this journey we take, no matter how alone we may feel, will never be walked alone because we are bound to people.
We are not alone in life.
Never are we alone.
We are bound to people all around us, both present, past, and future.
Several movies highlight this effect. Meet Joe Black and 500 Days of Summer come to mind first.
In the former, a man is in a coffee shop and meets a girl. She is in a rush and sits down in a hurry. Soon, the two are talking. The man makes an immediate impression on the girl and soon they are enraptured in each other, but the reality sets in that they are both on separate paths right now, and that they must depart, for now. The man and the woman exit the coffee shop and turn to face each other once more before they possibly leave each other behind forever. When they turn away, they begin to walk. A disparity grows between them with each step. After a few steps, the man turns around and looks at the woman as she walks away. He smiles, and then continues on. The woman, right after he turns to continue walking, turns and does the same. She, for a moment, entertains the thought of chasing him, maybe to say one last goodbye, but she quickly shakes her head and brings herself back into the moment. She turns around and continues to walk.
The man crosses the street and is hit by a car, killing him.
In the latter, Summer and Tom are the lovers, but their romance is cut short, or at least cut short in the opinion of Tom. Summer desires a new adventure, and becomes bored of Tom. They sit in a theatre, towards the end of the film, and watch The Graduate. Tom, a hopeless romantic, believes that this movie shows true love. He believes that it shows two people who escape together and beat the system to live happily ever after, but as he watches the close scene, he notices that Summer is crying. She ends the relationship shortly after the movie.
The two would grow apart, but eventually Summer would invite Tom over for a party. Tom, in his head, creates two worlds: one which is his reality, and one which is his dream. In his dream he is talking to Summer and making her laugh, but in reality he is leaning against a wall, alone, holding a drink. In his dream, he touches Summer’s cheek and kisses her. In reality, he sees that she is wearing an engagement ring. Tom runs from the rooftop and walks home alone. Tom would find himself sitting on a park bench one day in the future overlooking one of the city’s skylines. Summer calls to him, “I thought I might see you here,” and Tom steels himself as she approaches to sit next to him. They begin to talk. They speak of how she is married now, and how she never told him. He said how he never will understand how she never wanted to be anybodies girlfriend, but now she was someone’s wife.
She replies, “It just happened.”
“Right, but that is what I don’t understand. What just happened?”
She tells him that she woke up and was sure of something she was not sure of with him.
Tom breaks, but goes on to say how the worst thing is that he realizes now that everything he believed in was bullshit, how love and destiny was bullshit. Summer disagrees, and tells him he was right all along.
Summer begins to tell him that she was sitting in a deli reading a book and then all of a sudden the man she would marry came in and sat next to her, and the rest is history.
She tells him about all of the other things she could have done. What if she had gone to the movies? Gone somewhere else for lunch?
What if she had gotten there ten minutes later?
It was there, and it was meant to happen, she told him.
What if the man had turned around in Meet Joe Black?
What if Summer had gone somewhere else?
What if a moment never happened?
What if you had looked away, or chosen not to go somewhere?
What if you never got the job?
What if you never said “hello”?
What if the seat in front of you had been taken?
The list will always go on and with each of those questions presents a life that never happened simply because this life was meant to happen.
Even when we think of the past we remember who we have let into our lives and who we have let out of our lives. We are bound to them. We carry with us these moments and things that have happened to us, what these people have said or done and sometimes we leave behind a piece of ourselves with those people. Sometimes we leave behind things we will never get back.
Some people can patch up those holes and move on, never seeing into the fine lines that lay around the edges of the plaster used to cover up the damage. Yet, to others, all they see is the thin line around the hole, reminding them of what used to be there and what never will be there again. Either way, we choose to move on and continue living life. And when we find something else to give ourselves to, we give ourselves to it in a sense where our souls and beliefs have been broken down. Those who are there to carry that weight that you carry are now the ones to hold onto your “mirror”.
We are all mirrors, and we can see ourselves in our mirrors daily. Sometimes that mirror breaks when we hold it out for someone else to hold onto for a while, and when we put it back together we may cut our fingers, but we do so because we simply want to see ourselves again. We look back into that mirror that is oneself and we see ourselves, smiling, because we have it all back; we can see our own smile again. But with that we also see the cracks and they remind us of where we have been and what we have been through.
No two mirrors will ever be the same, just as no mirror ever breaks the same.
To see that our mirror, no matter how damaged or destroyed, is ours and ours alone is to see that we are all unique.
And when we see that is when we finally begin to love ourselves.
When we understand that, we finally realize that we were never picking up the pieces to put back together a new mirror, but simply to remember what the original one looked like.
That is when the slices on our fingers from the broken glass finally begin to mend.