My healthy practices did not begin out of a love for my body and a love for myself. They did not develop simultaneously with a sense of enlightenment and I still cannot tell you what the meaning of life is. My quest for happiness did not begin out of boredom or restlessness, and I did not choose to embark on it consciously. I have no idea what I am doing and no clue what direction to head in. This was not a well thought out plan and it was not one that I was recommended by an enlightened individual. I had no idea what I was asking for when I invited love into my life and I had no idea that after the invitation I would have so much trouble finding it. I did what I was told to do in order to find illusive “happiness” — I repeated the mantra “I love myself” countless times, tried to find value in my body, and embraced my mind and the thoughts it has the power to create. I started exercising and paired my diet down to the essentials that my ancestors ate in order to treat my body like a temple. I worked a high end job with a well paying salary but took time in my work day to enjoy flowers. I sought to be proud of the status I held in life and for someone to finally turn around and recognize it. I spent obligatory time with family and friends, and reminded myself that I am told those are the moments worth living for. I wanted all the accomplishments and recognition for finding a happier path in life and I wanted to be a poster child of progression for others. I wanted to embody self-love, or at least I told myself I did.
I did not realize that I needed love in my life until it was almost too late. I did not choose this path to happiness, instead I was forced down it if I wanted to continue living at all. It was my only option besides suicide or accidental death and I saw no other direction to head in besides up. I needed tragedy in order to recognize that there is so much more to this life than I saw at first. I needed everything to be stripped away from me without a choice in order to realize what I really wanted. I cannot imagine that everyone who seeks happiness needs to hit a proverbial rock bottom first, but I did. I needed no other option but to learn to love myself, because it was the one thing I was terrified of doing. What if I didn’t find value in my actions? And what if everything I have done in life so far held no significance? What if I find that I have no future and that I have been over shooting with my expectations my entire life? And what if I discover that I am the one thing that is preventing me from being happy? All of these questions scared me away from ever seeking a truthful answer, until one day I had no other option but to face my fears. I cannot recall the day that it happened and I cannot remember the moment when I decided to invite love into my life along side the hate I always held against myself. I don’t know what made me do it, besides having an overwhelming feeling that life could not go on in the same manner it always had for me, otherwise it might be my preemptive end. I was terrified of forever losing a sense of what happiness is, and I fought out of a corner to rediscover how to incorporate it into me once again. I was not always terrified of love — but it was only once I thought I didn’t deserve it in life that I craved it most. I did not choose to find it, I was forced to in the end.
My Yoga practice did not start from a desire to strengthen my body and find peace of mind — it began because I had trouble breathing out of panic. My healthy diet did not begin because I wanted to treat my body kindly and only give it what it was meant to naturally process — it began because I could not keep any food down thanks to an anxious stomach and acid reflux. And my writing did not begin to flow out of me because I had enlightened ideas to share with the world — it began because I had so much in my mind that was unprocessed and torturing me that I needed a release. I was a terrified animal, cornered into facing love and it was a fight and struggle to get out of that corner of hate that I had grown to feel irrationally safe in. I did not choose to face my fears, they came to face me when I thought I had nothing left to live for. I faced the fear that I was sick and broken by proving myself wrong with yoga practice and climbing mountains. I faced the fear that I hated myself by writing down the exact opposite every day and reminding myself that there were aspects of me that I felt value for. And I faced my fear that tragedy had broken the person I used to be by asking myself who I wanted to grow to be instead. I would still say that I struggle with finding love and happiness in my life, but I know that there is no other choice but continue searching and following the path I have set myself on, because there is no turning back. That is simply not an option because that would mean the end of my life. I was so close to ending it before I had a survival instinct to keep my head on and chin up — and I listened earnestly to what that instinct had to say and clung onto it like a life vest in the midst of a shipwreck. I still have so much to learn, but I am learning to listen to myself and damn the opinions of others. I am learning that I need to find my own path to “happiness” and that no one else can share it with me. It is not a lonely path, but it is one of self-discovery and painstakingly slow progress because the journey is what I am seeking, not the end. I do not believe that there is truly an “end” to this search and I know that I will spend the rest of my life wandering, looking for the fruits of my labor to indulge in. I know that I will forever be growing and changing, and I can easily end up right back where I started if I lose track of my own progress. I know that this is never ending, and it terrifies me to commit to something so uncertain with no guaranteed reward, but the thrill of it makes me feel alive again.