And somewhere in between lipstick-stained coffee cups and the crumbles of a croissant sprinkled across my papers... I summed up the simple truth of life and wrote that "it goes on."
Until it doesn't - which is something most of us strive to prevent through exercise, a green juice here and there, and even while sitting in a candlelit restaurant corner popping a sugar-coated, homemade, jam-filled donut hole thinking "here's to balance!"
Amidst pain, grief, toxicity, and chaos, we look for balance and while we may not consciously know it, we look for kindness. Kindness towards ourselves, kindness from others, kindness in the way encourage our thoughts to ballerina-float through our minds instead of the usual monster-truck-mow they usually do.
We spin, we swim, we supplement, we sacrifice, all for the sake of longevity and feeling good. Yet, amongst it all, we feel deep insecurity, resentment, detachment, and longing. For the moment, I'll suspend my desire to continue through my mental Rolodex of activities and nouns that encourage us to capitulate to the dark sides of ourselves (or the shadow side as some call it).
Yes- life goes on because as of now, we can't stop the day from turning into night and night from turning into another morning. On a November day in Manhattan, in my sleep-deprived state at the coffee shop that morning (croissant crumbles and all), I saw a man with grand tortoiseshell glasses peer over the thick agate rim and tilt his coarse salt and pepper beard towards his chest.
He had a presence that led me to feel like he's the kind of soul to have earned every wrinkle around his eyes from smiling in days past and certainly smiling at what he had left of his future. He readjusted the way he was sitting and looked to the younger man seated across from him and said "my boy, it goes on. All of it. It doesn't wait for you and it sure isn't going to wait for me."
It was at that moment, with zero context of their conversation, that I scribbled in black ink on the top of my paper "it goes on." There was something romantic about that idea and I knew I wanted to spend some time swimming with it a little longer when I had a moment to think.
If you followed me when I wrote for the Odyssey, you may remember that when I sit down to write, I don't have much of an agenda.
I write to process and to understand. I write with a slight ramble colored by a mental game of "connect the dots." My hope is that if you resonate with part or all of an essay that you too were able to connect some dots. I don't like leaving out the in-between. I don't like reading only about conclusions without understanding the thought process that brought someone to them.
I'm obsessed with asking "why" and uncovering the "in-between." So when I heard that man say "it goes on" I started thinking of why those three words are important and how they were relevant to where I was at that time in my life.
What I've begun to process is that as life goes on, our "in-between" is typically vulnerable warfare that we try to negate by proving something through what we feed ourselves (or don't feed ourselves) and what we put ourselves through until we reach an end.
I'd like to emphasize that what we feed our minds is just as impactful as what we feed our bodies.
Eat all the broccoli in the world but if you're feeding your mind shitty thoughts and sabotaging self-talk, you can bet your sweet ass that you'll feel that way too.
How are you feeding yourself in between meals? If your first thought when you get off that bike and look in the mirror is "damn, I wish my thighs were a little thinner" or "my biceps could use some more definition" I hope your next thought is one of gratitude.
To live in a world where we have the luxury of going to exercise classes and carrying the seemingly trivial insecurities of our thighs rubbing together more than they used to is to live in a world where our basic needs are met. Maslow would categorize this as our "physiological and safety needs" being met.
In my own experience, at times in my life where I felt especially overwhelmed by my outside world, worrying about my broken out face or other trivial insecurities wasn't even on my radar. I was more worried about pulling myself out of bed each morning, making it through the day, and ending up somewhere that could provide some caffeine and carbs. Welcome to my cortado and croissant moment.
This is why I think that there's a paradoxical luxury in recognizing our insecurities. If we're able to make the headspace to start picking on ourselves, then it means we had space to fill anyways... Space that wasn't consumed by a focus on covering our basic needs (warmth, shelter, food, mental/physical safety).
After all, if you're anything like me, it's what's in between the bread that makes a sandwich and it's what's in between the Oreo that makes it an Oreo.. otherwise, it's just two mildly flavorless chocolate crackers trying to be a cookie. Here’s to the in-between.