If you’re lucky enough to discover what you love, you have to hold on to it. You have to show up when it matters – despite fatigue, ambivalence, anxiety, and doubt. You have to stand up for the things you believe in especially when speaking up is frightening. Acquire scars in the process. Bleed for it, sweat for it. Lose your way, question everything and still somehow remain certain. You have to cry about it, you have to swallow back tears for it – whatever the occasion demands. You have to sink into the depths of loss and claw your way back to the sunlight. You have to fight for what you want; demand what you deserve. Find motivation in the very pits of your own discouragement; carve patience out of your own nauseating desire for things to change, to hurry, to help you arrive at your destination, wherever it may be.
You have to love hard, risky though it may be. Be brave in your vulnerabilities – rejection doesn’t break you, it teaches you, it challenges you, it polishes you. You have to really try, not just a dip in the shallow end. The all-in, embarrassing, heat rising from inside you at the abrasive spotlight you’ve thrust yourself into, wishing to escape your own skin or evaporate or melt or become invisible, under the hot wrath of a thousand eyes on you, fuck it though – this is important enough, type of trying.
The type of effort you exert for something you need. Something you absolutely must have because you will cease to breathe if you don’t get it – or at least that’s how it would feel: a numb existence. When you need something like that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s not in context, or confined by sense or circumstance – it’s pandemic. It’s everywhere and everything. The smallest most mundane elements of the day are reminders of it. It infiltrates internally and externally all at once, consuming you — a consumption both uncomfortable and welcome, one you are almost unable to absorb, but one you’d never think to resist. It’s you.
When you need so ineffably, there is no refuge, no escape, no running, no hiding, no distracting from desire. Your dream is not a pristine image on a canvas, hung on the hinges of the horizon to be your gentle daily inspiration. No, your dream nags you, wakes you up in your sleep. It trespasses into your subconscious, nestling into the folds of every thought so there is nowhere to turn to escape it until you never want to escape it – you just have to acquire it. Your dream lurks in your shadows, winks at you over unknowing strangers’ shoulders while you make small talk with them, latches on to your back, lest any buoyancy in your step distract you from your ultimate purpose. It slides into bed with you, — as if to say, don’t stretch out unless you stretch toward me. It floats along the perimeter of your brain in cool whispers, gently tickling the fleshy folds of what makes you, you. It intertwines itself with the nerve signals shooting around your body, so your very existence becomes the face of it. It somehow crawls its way under your knee caps, so every time you dare to rest when you might run towards it, there’s a subtle discomfort.
It is the unspoken tension, the unease of an urgently remembered and instantly forgotten task, cast out of sight, un-namable, but emanating its pressure still. It is insatiability. Restlessness. Discomfort. Adrenaline. Yearning so desperately it makes you acutely aware of the depths to which your existence reaches; the cavernous extent of you – every inch of it, filled with this longing. It is obliterating to all sentiments and elements beneath it – rationale, fatigue, logic, routine, expectations. They all dissipate in its presence. It is obsession, overreaction, drama – to the outside eye, to those who don’t get it because they don’t feel it. Sometimes it’s those things to you – but never more than it is, essential. It’s always on the tip of your tongue, the top of your mind, in your peripherals. It is the source of your insanity and your bravery. It’s everything in you that is undeniable, and it is the constant reminder that you need not deny your very self – a timely reminder, as the realization that you are incapable of burying yourself settles over you like ash in the aftermath of flames for futility.
It’s certainty in the face of doubt — rigid, inflexible, unabridged certainty. Pompous certainty; unstoppable certainty. Self-righteous, I’d-bet-my-life-on-it certainty. It has to be because it’s yours – it’s your dream – you need it. It’s failure, but never defeat. It’s despair at times, but only at times, always only temporary. It’s the drop in your stomach, the thrill in your gut, the wind on your face from the surge up to the heights of elation and down to the pits of longing. And up again and down again and up again.
It’s hunger but no appetite, exhaustion but no sleep. It is at its worst, utterly consuming. At its best, liberating, inspiring, and uplifting. It is often all things at once. It is the joy and pain, gratitude and grief, and ultimately, the incredible beauty and purpose, borne of chasing what you love.