When I am at my happiest, I spend my evenings painting on my balcony, with wine, and sometimes music, but always my thoughts.
Paint provides the opportunity to explore what's going on in my head without the stress of structure or coherence that writing demands. Thoughts can unfurl in a more organic way—sans logic, sans shape. It's a more dreamlike dispensary of idea, and it feels a bit like ecstasy.
That said, the past few months have been obviously different. And I have not painted much. Like most of us, I’ve had, yes, some happy days, but also I've had many other days that merit a different description. Like if emotions were a rainbow, with each arc another feeling, I'd have worn every shade.
In the last little while, I’ve been very blue. I share that first and foremost because it’s a-okay, and I believe more people should share about feeling this way. Diminishes the stigma and all that.
Secondly, I share this to explain how it feels to feel this way, in case you've never experienced it. And in case you want to know, because maybe someone you care about is swimming in this color. And maybe you want to understand, because maybe you want to be there for them.
Here's the answer to how it feels. Most of all, it feels like nothingness, numbness. At least, in my experience.
That lack of feeling is protective, of course. Usually there's a tsunami of emotion beneath the shell that we've subconsciously cut ourselves off from, because it seems too dangerous.
And so: nothingness.
This is why, I think, the blues have the ability to last for a very long time. Unlike anxiety, tucking into this shell, going into this void—it doesn't feel that difficult. In fact, you don't usually know you're doing it.
You just know that you're sort of... existing for a little while. And things are more quiet. But you're still there. And you can still move through the motions. You can persist. And most don't notice you're covered in blue. Not even you.
Sometimes, we can tell to an extent. Like, to stick with the imagery, maybe we can tell our skin has been lightly dipped in this shade, that it's looking a little cool. But we cannot see the richness of the blue, not at all.
Not until it begins to grow faint anyway.
I don’t believe we’re given the gift of perception until we're ready for it. And usually we're not ready for it while we're in the thick of it. Usually we're only capable of seeing what we've been through when it's beginning to wane. Then, as the intensity decreases, our vision can start to crystallize. Because it finally feels safe to see.
That's where I am now. The blindfold is beginning to slip. I'm beginning to see the blue. Which means it's already fading. If it wasn't, I'd still be blurry. I'd still be numb.
So, tonight, in the name of the fading blue, I took myself for a walk back to the neighbourhood I love the most in this city—the very same one that I’d been avoiding, that I went all the way to the USA to avoid. Because it holds echoes of memories that, for a while there, felt like too much.
The moon was a perfect silver crescent.
I noticed it when I got to this neighbourhood, where you can see both the stars and their cratered counterpart much more vividly.
It made me smile. Even though I could feel my throat get a touch swollen. Even though I could feel my eyes begin to sting. Even though I could see the blue.
The moon was a perfect silver crescent. And it made me smile. It reminded me to breathe. And most of all it made me open my eyes to the other thing I could feel. Relief. Like I'd finally gotten back home.
And that's when I remembered something important. These streets felt like home to me independent of the person I came to link them with.
To explain, I believe that everyone we meet has a purpose in our lives. And this person probably had many purposes, but one of the clearest ones I have come to see was that he was meant to guide me back home to myself. He lived in this neighbourhood that I've loved for years, but I mean so much more than that.
See, for a few months before I met him, I'd gotten a bit sidetracked. I'd lost touch with my love of nature, as well as my spiritual side because someone in my life then wasn't on board that train. But then, meeting him, a person who embodied all of this, I quickly remembered how important these things are to me.
And now, I've realized in returning to those streets, a lot of the difficulty I've experienced losing him has nothing to do with him. It was about temporarily losing myself again, in closing off to those things that we shared, because I conflated them with him. But that was wrong. Those things are pieces of me.
So, tonight, I remembered that this is the thing about people in our lives. What we love about them, and what we hate about them—it's all reflective of ourselves. It's like I wrote last week: everyone is our teacher. Everyone holds up a mirror. For who we want to be, who we don't want to be, and for who we are.
The moon was a perfect silver crescent. And it made me smile.