Monday, February 11, 2013

A windy cure

I never know where I'll be at any moment of any day anymore. I go through ups and downs, sometimes more of one than the other. No matter the circumstances, I'm susceptible to outside influence, constantly subject to rapid fluctuations of emotions and never quite knowing when or what will trigger an uncontrollable reaction.

That all sounds pretty awful, I know. It scares me sometimes that I feel so vulnerable, so easily manipulated by what surrounds me. For someone who thinks they have strong convictions, the idea of letting your emotions out of your own hands is frightening. I would be lying if I said I don't go to sleep every night worrying that when I wake up the next morning I won't feel happy, or that worse, I'll feel depressed.

But it's no use getting worked up over these things. After watching the movie Friends with Money for the second time this afternoon, I was reminded that I'm not alone in dealing with life's failures. That everywhere there are people struggling with relationships, with family and with personal inadequacy. I'm not alone. In fact, the only time I'm alone is when I wake up in the morning after being all by myself in my sleep state.

So in some way, I hope to manipulate that lone state for the better.

I'm starting with nature.

This afternoon I was walking back from class to my dorm. I wasn't sure what my plans were for dinner - I knew that I had a lot of work to do tonight and that was daunting, but the knowledge that I was going back to my room to hang out with friends and enjoy a quiet evening in was pleasant and comforting.

All day I'd been feeling a bit down and out. In the morning I woke to the sound of a whistling wind beating down my window. My window pane is so flimsy, in fact, that I can see it physically shake when the wind kicks up. Today it was such an ominous sound that I contemplated going back to bed and staying there for the rest of the day.

That was not a choice I had, though. I was committed to being photographed by a classmate of mine at my work study job. I needed to keep up with my attendance in my two classes today. I had to think about my assignments in the evening. I knew if I just slept in all day I'd inevitably neglect all of these things.

So I got up, and I faced the world. And it was brutal. Literally, brutal. The wind lunged at me every few seconds, holding me back as I walked to class and practically making my winter hat fly off and away.

Ordinarily this would frustrate me. I'm no friend to the wind. The wind is no friend to me. Our relationship has become strained after years of hair getting stuck to my balmed lips, my skirt flying up in all directions, my eyes getting dust blown into them. Wind is a vindictive and unkind soul. It has no soul, actually. Maybe that's what makes it so cruel.

Regardless of the wind's intentions, for some reason I was calm in my dealings with it today. At moments when I was blown back by intense gusts, I laughed it off. Occasionally I basked in the power of the weather, letting it drag me this way and that, knowing full well that if I didn't go along with it I'd be fighting it and frustrating myself more.

As I walked back to my room from my final class of the day, the wind had died down. I wasn't being pushed back so much as I was engulfed in a sea of bitingly cold air. As I wafted through the air, past the library, up the steps toward the business school building and towards my place of residence, I took really deep breaths.

Every step along the way, I'd breathe in the freshness, the coldness. It may sound strange, even stupid, but I felt like I could taste the cold.

I walked past people bundled up in heavy winter coats. They had scarves wrapped around their noses and mouths. They were afraid of the weather.

For once, I was going along with it. In fact, I was embracing it. I was taking it in more than I would even a summer's day. The pain of the cold temperatures felt good to me because it felt real.

In a world where I can't control my emotions under most circumstances, I maintain control over one thing - nature. And by that I don't mean that I manipulated the elements in some way. I just didn't let them affect me. Their effect was dependent upon my reaction and I chose to react happily.

I've never felt so out of control of my own feelings. I tiptoe between various states, upsetting my equilibrium and knowing only a tiny change can alter my feelings entirely.

So I'm looking for ways to find pleasure in life at every turn - to turn the things that make me sad into things that make me happy to be alive. A frostbite-inducing chill or a knock-you-to-the-ground wind can do just that.

This is what I needed. The kind of cure only nature can bring by pushing her worst on me, testing my limits and proving I can withstand anything.

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