Forget Calm! This Is How You Carry On.

Why you’re here is a bone-splitting trauma, an event that wasn’t strong enough to spark your neurotransmitters and cause a chemical imbalance, but one that shuffled your deck to an unrecognizable hand. For a while, you retreated into Narnia, withdrawing into your closet or into a heap upon your bathroom floor. You fought battles not covered by the evening newscast. You are bruised, and bleeding an invisible trail of forget-me-nots. A polite, concerned someone has asked: “how are you?” and it took all the strength you could muster to maintain composure, to keep your stitches from splitting, spilling your contents all over the freshly-mopped tile floor. You’ve cracked a side-smile, whispered “fine,” and hoped the stranger didn’t want to talk.

It is said that people with big minds talk about ideas, people with average minds talk about events, and those with small minds talk about others. This is why you’ve never felt at home, because you have called “bullshit” when someone argued an unfortunate event as a reason to have a problem. There will always be unfortunate events, but when you’re coercing brilliance, you realize that trauma is an opportunity disguised in a very dark cloak.

You’ve believed you were going mad. The deer on the grassy knoll suddenly became a metaphor for grace, choosing your headlights to display a glimmer in the eye. You’ve suddenly questioned whether the bum on the shoulder of the interstate was a long-deceased relative reincarnated to interpret the color of your soul. This too has passed, as does any digestion of new theory, but some remnants are retained in the plasma of your blood. These ideas have pocketed themselves deep within your brain, unapologetic for the heavy scarring.

If you want a better life, you have to start by getting rid of the polluted parts. You have to press your hands against your skin and soak up all the dirt pooling in your pores. Open chest, insert tubing, siphon out the bad blood. This is what the self-help books forget to tell you; if you’re unhappy, you’ve convinced yourself the way you’ve been going on about life is fine, that nothing’s worked because it’s unfair or because you’re unlucky or because fate hasn’t graced you yet. Trauma has arrived to tell you: your excuses are bullshit. Consider it divine intervention in the broken heart.

All you taste is metallic and oranges. All you call for is progression. All you acknowledge is that it is a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want. Decide to do so anyway.

Pulling out the splinters sucks. It hurts. It hurts a lot, but only in a hollow can you find room for something better.

Uninspired, you’ve turned to the pavement for cold, for pressure ripping through your soles. Uncomfortable shoe material has dug at your second toe, and it very well may have bled, but neon window displays seemed brighter and words seemed smaller, so you carried on. Sounds have become paced, sacred and infinite. You’ve completed a round. You’ve taken a shower. You’ve gotten in the car, driven until you were tired and grabbed a Guinness at a corner bar in a town you’ve never been. How gorgeous you must have looked despite so much pain, spun in gold material and turning on your toes, purple eyes daring anyone to look.

Let go of hatred, for you must to carry on. Introduce solid food into your cigarette and black coffee diet. Stop purchasing lottery tickets, because you’ve been seeing pattern after pattern and only when you change your perspective does a pattern invert. Ponder the words of Salvador Dali, a man consumed by consumerism, who awoke each morning with the thought: “what wonderful and fascinating things am I going to accomplish today?”

Allow yourself to be lonely, but realize what is important: music, sporadic sleep, oddities, self-improvement, rolled-down windows, mild weather, travel, and positivity. Behave as a socialite with an appetite for solitude. Think, “how quaint, to make someone a sandwich.” People watch, fueled by whiskey and Wheat Thins. For god’s sake, attempt to be sexy and hilarious at the same time. Learn from everything, try to feel something, look at things as if there’s always a sequence, and take initiative to change what you do not like. Believe in duality, in finding truth somewhere in contrast.

Learn to knee drive and make things. Play pinball, navigate cities, and maintain a healthy mental attitude. Handle your liquor, bake pastries in the shapes of zoo animals, and have intense, drunk conversations with your bar’s resident fry cook at 4 o’clock in the morning. Ponder pseudo-science, universal laws, and what you would have named the German shepherd you never had. Devise plans to take over the world. Seek independence and articulation amidst high standards. Listen to hip-hop. Listen to punk rock. Allow yourself to hear sounds that challenge your idea of comfort. Listen to silence, and silence your mind. When you speak, speak of good and only good, and ask those around you what they’re hungry for instead of what they do. Stop conversing about the weather because the weather doesn’t give a shit about you.

Eventually, let someone remind you of home, of a time before fear, when there was still something wild you could look in the eye and refuse to back away from. Take home an outlaw, and smother the outlaw with what little heart you have left. Let it move fast if you’re so inclined, and let it leave a dent so large you cannot tell the forest from the trees. Go inside, take off a torn-up shirt, cover your own mouth to prevent waking up the whole damn house. Breathe like you have never breathed and for two days, allow yourself to smile.

However unsure, refuse to settle. Move inward in an outward world. String up a black screen at the edge of your mind, watch for what appears, then tear it down to move further past it. Hang another screen, see what appears, and repeat the process. Tiptoe on the verge of madness. Be inspired by summer and things you can’t explain. See pain in everyone— even the outlaws— and do your best to gently heal it. You are still passionate, though comfortably numb, proclaiming love and sometimes living it.

Live it more. Stop trying to make sense. Sometimes you can’t see the horizon, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

Ashlee Schultz

Ashlee Schultz believes in the power of a positive mindset. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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