She woke up one day.
It wasn’t a sharp moment of revelation. It was gradual.
Like the inside of a cavern reveals itself when the torch is first lit.
Like the stars reveal themselves as your eyes adjust.
She was witness to it. She watched herself slowly awaken.
Like someone slowly turning up the volume, she became aware.
She met her real self for the first time.
And she loved her.
Where have I been all this time? What was I doing? She wasn’t sure.
But she was sure of something: she wasn’t going to allow herself to revert. A lust to understand her true desires and beliefs burned within her like never before. She had spent 27 years cruising through life, living it the way she had been told to, doing the things others expected of her. She had taken thousands of breaths already. She had done great things. She had smelled the rain, she had loved a few people, heard beautiful music. True, she had been alive.
But this was entirely new. Her eyes weren’t just looking out. They were looking in. She recalled a quote she had heard once, “Those who look out, dream. Those who look in, awaken.”
She got it now. She was observing her thoughts like a scientist. But they were her thoughts.
She had an advantage over others that tried to understand her. She was her. Only she could think her thoughts, feel her feelings, want her wants. She could never again be told how to feel. It just didn’t make sense anymore.
Why did this happen? Why now? Does this happen to everyone? Did something or someone trigger it? Why did it take so long?
She wanted to understand everything all at once and so badly. She was more mature than she had ever been, yet she felt more curious than a child.
They had labeled her an extrovert. She acted accordingly.
They told her she was the life of the party. So she was.
She tried to make everyone like her.
She did what the world expected of her. It was like someone else had written the script to her life and she was playing the role.
Turns out she wasn’t the person she had been trying so hard to prove that she was.
She couldn’t be that person anymore. She was tired of acting.
She wanted to feel life. She wanted to be true to herself.
So she asked her heart to forgive her for not listening to it all these years. Her heart forgave her. They promised to make decisions together from now on.
She opened the floodgates that were stopping her true feelings from reaching her heart. From now on, she would allow herself to feel how she really felt, not how she was supposed to feel.
She had so much to look forward to.
A life that she could steer?! What a gift! How lucky she was!
A warmth started in her gut and moved upwards like a volcano to her shoulders. It melted down her arms and into her finger tips. She wanted to touch everything. She wanted to run. She wanted to call everyone she had ever wronged and tell them she loved them.
She was raised Catholic but never felt like any of it made sense. She had lost touch with whatever spiritual parts of her had existed. But the volcano brought them back in front of her eyes and her heart asked her to re-examine. She once thought she’d live her entire life as a sometimes-atheist sometimes-agnostic who never knew what to say in conversations about faith.
Now she looked into her heart and at the same time toward the stars. And she knew what she believed.
She felt like she was riding unseen waves of energy. She felt like Hugh Jackman in The Fountain soaring through space observing galaxies and solar systems. She felt like Robert De Niro in Awakenings. She felt like she was steering the ship in the Fantastic Voyage as it raced through her veins.
She began to listen more. To herself. To others.
No more interrupting.
No more eye rolling.
No more road rage.
She inspected the relationships in her life. The good. The failed. The evaporated. The could-have-been-greats. How could she know so many people yet not have a best friend with whom she could cry and share anything?
Her perceptions had changed. She stopped judging people so quickly.
“Yes,” she thought, “the next 27 will be full of feeling.”
Whatever she does, she’ll feel it. She won’t check things off a list. There is no list. There is no destination.
She would bear witness to her life. She would be both an active participant and an observer.
Risk had a new definition. She had been taught to avoid it. To preserve what she had. To be content. “Fuck that” she thought. “Not anymore.”
She would take risks. Big, silly, proud risks.
She didn’t change.
She just woke up.