Sometimes you come face-to-face with a decision you know is going to change you. Not just change your day-to-day, who you interact with, where you live, the music you listen to, or the food you eat.

It changes how you think, how you communicate, how you sleep. It changes how you walk, how you smile, how you hug someone. It changes how you experince the seasons, how you listen to music, how you say goodbye, how you evaluate truth, and ultimately how you trust your perception of the world as you experience it.

Luckily these moments don’t happen often. The mind and body probably can’t handle the constant shock, disorientation, and lack of homeostasis. At some point the ground has to be still. You have to be able to trust your footfall without your knees buckling.

Yet these moments are critical in shaping us as we inch closer to death. There’s no escaping it. By their very nature, these moments make us choose. There’s a fallacy in thinking we have the choice to act on these moments or not. But by not acting, you’ve also made a choice. Sure the choices differ and they may lead in completely different directions, but they are indeed both choices.

Is it better to know when one of these moments is staring us in the face? I’m not sure. My initial thought is to say yes because I think most of us like the option of having control over a situation. This gives up the perception that we are making informed decisions that will lead to the best outcome. But this knowledge also means you have to deal with the fallout of knowing you consciously made a particular choice. If things turn out for the better, then great, you did a good job in evaluating your options and set yourself up well for the rest of your life. If things turn out poorly, then you get to live with that regret, also possibly for the rest of your life.

But there again is another fallacy. Life isn’t a dichotomous key. There isn’t necessarily always a right or wrong option. Sometimes there are just options. I had one of these moments almost 6 years ago when I decided to say goodbye to my best friend.

Things haven’t exactly turned out how I planned since then. Not that I planned on ever replacing her. In my mind, you don’t just replace important people in your life like that, but I certainly thought I would have found another best friend and lover in that time. But here I am, still searching. But this isn’t about that search. This is about being born, living life, and throwing rocks in the lake and dealing with each subsequent ripple.

Does that mean I made the wrong choice? I don’t think so. For one, she’s happier than she would have been with me. I fully believe this. I’m not sure I was capable of giving her my best me and therefore the best life possible for her. Sometimes the right choice isn’t even about you.

And I also don’t want to act like I’m some kind of saint. I was infidelitous before I even said goodbye. I don’t regret saying goodbye. I regret how I said goodbye. I’m still sorry about this to this day. A ripple that I failed to anticipate.

But plenty of good has also come from that decision. I have a whole new career path that I’m in love with, even though I’m unsure where it’s taking me. I moved halfway across the country to a wonderful city. I have new friends and I’m closer to my old friends. I also experience life differently. I love harder. I’m more emotional. I’m more open with my thoughts and to other people’s experiences. I think overall this has made me a better person.

But I’m also a more lonely person.

This is the hard truth. This isn’t about seeking pity either. This is just me being long overdue honest with myself. I’m not religious, but this is as close as I get to a “come-to-Jesus” moment. This is one of those moments. It’s not as sharp and cut to bone as maybe I’d like. This is a foggy haze of a moment. A can’t quite see where you’re going, but know you need to get going moment.

And I need to get a grasp on this moment. I’ve tried and tried for almost a year now, but just can’t quite do it. Maybe it’s because I’ve failed to see it as a moment. I’ve been too busy with distracting myself and possibly feeling bad for myself.

For almost two months now I’ve woken up in the middle of the night every single night, rocked by what I thought were random dreams. And each time I lay awake for at least a half an hour. Eventually I started using that time to evaluate my dreams and finally found a theme. Every dream was about something I care about deeply and in some way have lost over time.

The night I had this revelation was the night I realized I was in the middle of this moment. It’s just that this moment isn’t a moment at all. It’s been going on for a long time and it’s time to make a choice. I need to accept my new life and learn to love myself. I need to let myself off the hook. I need to be me so I can be my best me for the people and things I care deeply about. I need to learn to embrace the ripples before the lake lies calm again.

 

All your cryin don’t do no good
Come on up to the house
Come down off the cross
We can use the wood
Come on up to the house

–Tom Waits

 

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