If we’re smart, or lucky, or unlucky, or dumb, or just in the right place at the right time, we all have a chance at a second life. No, not that zombie stuff or resurrection, but a life you live after you try something else. Your second life isn’t necessarily better or worse than your first life — you might like both just fine — but, usually, it’s more you.
Many of us grow up with some preconceived notion of who we should be. It might be some idea foisted upon us by parents or siblings or our community — or, often, just ourselves. We think we must be this thing. And so we aim, and try, and become that thing. Only to find ourselves unhappy, or just discontented, or downright miserable. And we break. And we realize things have to change, if we are to live, or at least not go mad. And going mad all at once, or little by little, piece by piece, your soul drifting away from you and floating downstream, seems very real — you could paint it in a watercolor, so vivid is the image — that you awake at night, the bedclothes sweaty with your fear, the fright clutched in your hands.
But you forge on. Your life is not without color, but the colors seem dull, and you don’t even realize the blandness of your landscape. Then something happens and you catch a glimpse of what life could be. It’s almost scary to glimpse. But it’s there. And now you have to see more of it, so you keep heading that way, working, charging, fighting until it becomes more than a dream. A plan. Now you have a plan and you work harder.
One day, you get there. It might be quick, or it might be really fucking long and painful, but you get there. You have a second life. And, often, it’s better than the first. Why? Because maybe your old life sucked, but you couldn’t really admit it. That was too hard. It was something you worked on for SO long. How could you have been wrong? Admitting you lost your way is difficult, but you do it. And you breathe in the sweet air of your second life. Air never tasted so good.
A friend of mine once said this to me, as I stood in the swamp of self-doubt, sure that my first life was not who I was, but not yet certain of how to get out of the bog and start on the dry path to my second life:
“You have to let go of your preconceived notions of who you are, who you should be, and go with what works for you now.”
I listened, and did … and somehow I made it. And so did so many others: their stories litter the world in some sort of trail that you could follow if you can see the markers, the signs, the clues that point you towards the path you really want to take, not just the obvious, paved road you’ve been walking down. I guess, what I’m trying to say with probably far too many words, is that if you’re somewhere in your life where the vague ghosts of discontent flutter in your stomach daily and haunt your dreams at night, take heart. You are alive. There is hope. Work, and find your way.