It is a foggy afternoon in early August, mist moving like giants between the hills. The summer has been unseasonably cold and inhospitable, even for Ireland, and I have spent the whole of it working outside. At the moment, I haven’t showered for about four days, and I’m nearly shivering, but it’s the end of work, and I want nothing more than to disappear into the hills and sing. Not because I’m in any way unhappy – rather because I have never been happier in my life. Glee has become the blood in my veins, and if I had an ounce of sense in my head I’d be struggling to disambiguate the temporary emotions brought on by being somewhere exciting and fun from those values and loves that sit deep in my soul. There is no such sense. What I held dear back home feels like a prison now, and I want nothing more than to cut away every bind holding me back and fly away.
Now it is April, eight months later. I have been in France for a month and a half, doing the same kind of thing I was doing in Ireland, but this time, even though I am meeting amazing people and doing work I believe in, my thoughts and wishes are completely changed. You see, I did not go to Ireland as a woman without roots. When I returned from Ireland, it was to a boyfriend whom I had severely hurt by my antics and was unsure I was really in love with, the last semester of a degree I hated, and a city I had come to loathe. And seated in my core was the burning desire to go back, which I feared was insurmountable.
I never did quite recover the respect for my degree that I hoped I would, nor did I ever quite reconcile myself to Vancouver. But I realized that I had hurt the one person I should never, ever hurt, and while the consequences of that were nearly killing me, it taught me something important: that there are two kinds of emotions (not exclusively, but for my purposes now) – the temporary, and the eternal. I had misunderstood my utter delight at suddenly having everything I needed to feel my life was wonderful, which I hadn’t had back in Vancouver, interpreting it wrongly as wanting nothing to do with anything back in Vancouver, rather than perhaps attempting to find those things no matter where I was. When I realized this, about a month after I’d gotten back, I made a resolution: never again to make flash emotional decisions, and instead to write down how I felt at any given time, and think about it. To let it rest. To acknowledge all emotions, really, as being something happening at a particular moment, and to track how long they last, and how they change over time. To essentially keep a scientific record of my thoughts and wishes, and stand back from them as much as I can. And somehow, I have managed to do this for the past four months, and I feel that I know myself better than I ever have before.
So, if you take nothing else from this introduction to In Which I Discover, take the knowledge that journaling can save relationships, and also that if you pay attention to what you think, you will learn so much about yourself, good and bad. The only way to grow as a human being is to know where you’re starting from.
This blog is a non-chronological chronicling of those things I’ve learned, what I have done with myself after graduation, and what on earth I might do in the future. The hope is that, if you read this, you will make one less mistake than I did, or if nothing else, better understand a mistake already made.
So: listen. Not to me, but to yourself.