Photo by Mudassir Ali from Pexels

The holidays are over, and I’m trying to get my brain out of the land of daydreams, fantasies, and impetuous optimism. I don’t want to completely vacate that wonderful slice of paradise because let’s face it, the real world is cold, dark, and kind of ew. Those fantasies inspire a brash yet delightful idealism that holds me together when everything else wants to tear me apart. They give me hope that nothing will ever be as horrible as it seems, and I’ll see sunny days soon enough.

That would be brilliant because it’s bucketing rain, the wind is howling like a wolf, and I’m kind of chilly. I’m enjoying the pattering on the window behind me, and I’m grateful to be dry. One sunny day after a week of rain? That would be nice, but I’m not upset either way.

Actually, I’m still in a pretty decent mood and, if I may be so bold, I would call happy if I knew what that meant. I have a vague understand and a deep desire to figure out what happiness is. But a complete level of comprehension? Oh no, but I wish! At this point in my life, there’s a work in progress stuck to my forehead. 

Happy? Who dat? No! My apologies, I’ll never use that sentence again. I can’t pull it off and sound cool. I sound silly. Who dat? Seriously? But I think I’m happy so let’s forget about my momentary lapse in judgement.

Since I’m not entirely sure what happiness is, I’m letting my assumptions run wild like a majestic raccoon on the hunt for nourishment. I might not be entirely sure what happiness entails, but I think I’m experiencing its intoxicating presence. There’s a bubble tickling my tummy. I want to giggle, but I don’t know why. I just sighed for absolutely no reason at all.

I’d go so far as to say that I feel content, and it’s all thanks to the very long holiday season. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been living in a fantasy world of optimism and hope. How many times have I typed the word hope in my previous posts? A dozen times in each, I’m sure, but if you want to fact check me and count it out? Cool, I love a decent time-suck activity.

They’re almost meditative in their pointlessness. Counting ceiling tiles or sesame seeds on a bagel. Organizing the cutlery drawer according to size, function, and colour. Finding out how often I wrote one word in the last three weeks. These make-work projects suck up time in a mind-numbing way that alleviates tension and makes me feel like I accomplished something.

What it won’t do? Shut me up and get me to stop typing that one for letter word.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been experiencing the strangest sensation. It’s unfamiliar and, for a brief moment, I was concerned about alien mental manipulation, but I quickly ruled that one out. Not because it could never happen. No, I’m not entirely sure it can happen, and now I just freaked you out. Welcome to the club! That’s the very reason I stopped that train at the station. 

Yeah, that fantasy creeped me out too, my friend.

Alien mind-control? No thank you, but now I must ask where this wibbly emotion came from. If not aliens, then perhaps, Satan…Ha, no, Santa! I meant Santa, but my dyslexic brain muddled me up. I should just delete it and pretend it didn’t happen, but I’m laughing too hard. Satan made me happy. That’s not a sentence I ever thought I’d write. Hold on a moment, I’ve got to let the hysterical laughter out, or I’ll rupture something.

Satan…Ha ha ha ha ha ha….Whew. I assure you, that was not a Freudian slip. If the stories are correct, then I highly doubt satan is in the happy game. God, I’m an idiot sometimes but a happy idiot!

Which is so strange, and I don’t want this feeling to be disturbed or accidentally misplaced. I want the holiday season to stretch on just a little longer because when it’s over? Well, I’ll have to leave my warm, snuggly, fun fantasy bubble and walk out into the rainy, cold reality of life. Ew, no, that just won’t do. It won’t do at all!

Is it possible to live in both worlds? One half of your mind in the fantasy of an extremely capitalistic holiday. The other half in the overbearing realities of life with all the responsibilities, expectations, and vexations. Can I be dual citizen of both realms? Or, are both realms destined to battle it out in shining armour?

I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal, so I’m looking for an either/or answer, which is probably silly. Right now, it seems like I can’t live in the peaceful reverie indefinitely, and I don’t want to let the harsh realities of life consuming me entirely. Which one do I pick? Is neither an option? 

That would leave me in a no man’s land of sorts, and that would be an awfully lonely place to stand. I don’t want to strand myself on a battle scorched plot of land, smoke swirling all around me, and be overcome by the silence. I couldn’t bear the vacuum of nothingness. It would drive me mad so, what now?

If indifference isn’t the answer then what is? 

I’ve found myself living in the either/or, and it’s not the best idea. In my experience, these extremes rarely lead to anything that resembles happiness. This is why I’m trying to find a balance between the two. In fact, if I were so inclined to dabble in tradition, my new year’s resolution would be to find a more balanced lifestyle.

I’m not a big traditionalist, but this is the internet so, a disclaimer seems like it’s in order. Please don’t read my words as a dismissal of traditions and take it personally because that’s not my intent. I speak for myself, my life, and my beliefs. However, I have the utmost respect for differing ideas, perspectives, or systems of belief.

If tradition is your jam, then that’s cool. It’s great! If I’m looking for balance, then you’re helping me out. You’re the left to might right. The happy to my dappy. The… what’s a dappy? Is that even a word? No, it most certainly isn’t.

My point is, I need to find balance, and if making a resolution is the catalyst that gets me going, then I can’t argue with it.

If the either/or won’t work for me and no man’s land is the worst campsite ever, then I need to figure out how to walk a fine line. That’s what it is, isn’t it? An incredibly thin line drawn in invisible ink. I’m out of lemons so, how do I know if I’m walking a straight line. I can’t even draw the damn line. I failed colouring in kindergarten.

Seriously, they kept telling me to colour in the lines, but I just couldn’t do it. The outside looked lonely and sad. Maybe if I added a splash of red or yellow, then it would feel better. My teacher didn’t like my reasoning and yelled at me, “Colour the darn house already!” Then she chased me around the classroom with a really long ruler.

The joke was on her! I’m 4 feet 10 inches now, so you can imagine how little I was at that age. I easily fit into hard to reach places, and her ruler wasn’t long enough. It turns out that, when properly motivated, I had an unusual amount of patience for a kid, and not wanting to get hit was a good motivator. I waited her out, and I never coloured in the lines again.

Yes, she was a horrible teacher and had no business being an educator. Thankfully, outsmarting her was easy, and I was precocious.  

What about now? Am I precocious enough to find a solution to my dilemma?

That bubble I mentioned, the one decorated with Christmas lights and an inflatable Santa Clause that can’t keep its pants on? It’s slowly fading as I’m being pulled back into the rigour and rituals of everyday life. I knew it would happen. I just don’t want to burst my bubble, but I need to face reality.

And now there’s this internal battle between reality and fantasy. I’m drunkenly trying to walk a thin line. Either/or…Oh my mind is spinning!

No, you know what? That’s not the real battle, and it’s not what’s really bothering me. I like living in that bubble. I like feeling happy and hopeful. Over the last few weeks, I was able to shut down my overactive, trouble finding mind and enjoy the moments I was in. I wasn’t worrying about everything, and I only had a small amount of anxiety.

Trust me, that was a major improvement!

It was so incredible, and now I feel like I’m going to lose that. I don’t want to stop feeling hopeful. That’s what made me happy! I felt like everything would be okay. I know we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’ll be okay. I really believe that, and I don’t want to lose my faith in that brighter, sunnier, future. 

My brother just reminded me of something Former President Obama said, “Hope is that thing inside of us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, work for it, and fight for it.”

If I was a bigger person, literally and figuratively, I would make observations about the world and our ability to do amazing things. I’d point out that we can get through these troubled times if we work together, fight together, and take heart in the collective courage of our communities. If, you know, I wasn’t selfish and solely concerned about my happiness and wellbeing.

I should be that bigger person, but…Nah, I’m going to be a little selfish for this moment. Later? Yeah, I’ll look outward and focus on the greater good. I am still considered about my people, community and the world at large. But this post, for the sake of this discussion?

I’m not reaching or fighting for something greater than myself. I’m embracing my innate selfishness and, despite everything we’ve been told, that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes we need to be a little selfish if we’re going to survive and find the strength to help others. It has its place in our lives and right now, I’m using it to fight for my faith, hope, and happiness.  I’m fighting to hold on to the fantasy that we’re all going to be okay.

But hope isn’t a fantasy, and it isn’t dependant on the realities I face in my own life. It’s in every sacrifice I make to ensure my safety, and the health of the people I love – as well as the strangers around me. It’s the small steps I take to change my life for the better and it’s in my quest to figure out what happiness is. It’s the breath I choose to take when breathing becomes too hard. 

Hope is found in the struggle and the desire to hold onto the mere possibility that better days are coming. If I can find a way to balance my desires and struggles then the fight would become superfluous. I wouldn’t need to hold onto it with an iron grasp because hope would exist no matter which realm I inhabit.

In theory, anyway.

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