Having just celebrated what is considered a major milestone in Western culture, turning 21 has been mindfully righteous, even with all of its kicking and screaming, flashing lights, failed fairy-tales and stupid party hats. I’ve recently taken a brief hiatus from my blog, and really just focused on being present, enjoying the simplest pleasures in life – the company of family, friends, strangers, sunshine, laughter, and lots of good food. Both physically and metaphorically speaking, I’ve gained weight and let go of the worries that have burdened my happiness and often hindered my confidence. It’s not been easy, but through the practice of prayer, meditation, gratitude and self-love, I’m slowly getting there – wherever there is, because for once, I don’t have a destination, just a blank one-way ticket and bank balance.
In the last twelve months, I’ve had some of my best and worst days. I’ve feared for my life, fallen in love over and over again, faked smiles and interest, cried for help despite my stubbornness and denial of hurt, searched for answers without knowing what is it I’m looking for, learned to accept the past, forgiven myself and others, surrendered my body and mind, shackled my soul to a real and giving God, and pushed every pre-existing boundary set by my troublesome teenage years to the limit. It’s been quite the journey, but I’m slowly figuring out who I want to be, without completely losing myself in the process – though that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? I never knew change the way I do now until, literally, I barely recognized the small girl staring back at me in the mirror. All in all, this year has taught me that life, too, has its seasons'. Some of our longest days will also be our darkest, and only then are we able to find the essence to our identity.
At times, this year’s winter was lonely, serious and unsympathetic; though I know nature never intended to hurt. Instead, it challenged me to find a fire outside of my comfort zone. I once feared what it would be like to sleep alone – to wake up from a nightmare covered in cold sweat, with nobody to call for – and dreaded having to climb into an empty bed. I just didn’t know what to expect in the unknown, or how well I’d handle keeping the flame inside of my heart alive without somebody else safeguarding it when I was down on the ground, fighting my own danger and demons. But hard times don’t last forever, and I’m still here, despite many days of doubt, depression and impossible optimism.
I’ve waited as patiently as I could for spring’s humble arrival and winter’s end. Maybe that’s why September will always be my favourite month; it’s always a relief when you can let go of holding onto your breath. But, then, maybe it’s because of the flowers – the scent of daffodils, magnolia and cherry blossom, fused together in a gentle breeze that lightly kisses your skin as it passes by – or maybe it’s the sight of new-born lambs and bobby calves, innocently unaware of their fate. It could just be because, on the West Coast, the first day of September signifies the start of whitebait season, something my family will always welcome at dawn, rain or shine. Or maybe it’s simply because September is my birthday month, which I guess makes me a little bias, but otherwise particularly thoughtful of the weather and way the sun feels when you’re able to sit outside with a glass of wine for the first time in months, not worrying about the wind, which is now warm and full of wilted memories. Unlike winter, spring doesn’t demand to be felt, nor does it suffocate you like summer. Instead, it patiently waits for the cold to have its last say, graciously melting melancholy, anticipation, and anxiety away with the snow. It’s the start to a renewal of hope.
September is a reminder that even life’s toughest seasons will pass – you only have to make the most of them, enjoying every wintery day with whatever light you can find. Whilst nothing could have prepared me for this year’s lot of surprising affairs, three things that definitely got me through the days of darkness were faith, hope and love. Never forget how it feels to be alive, even when you’re stuck in the snow, and remember that moments of pain don’t last forever; because when you’re finally alone – away from life's distractions and false comforts of security – you’ll realize that when you talk to the sky, it will always find a way of talking back.