This is what I think when the plane lands in London after six hours of listening to the same Don McLean song over and over while I dipped in and out of that shallow, confusing sleep that never really reaches climax:

What am I doing here?

That’s all—this one thing on repeat in my brain, like a mantra struggling to find its way towards optimism but floundering and sticking somewhere knee-deep in the mud of unsure, terrified, completely fucking overwhelmed.

What am I doing here?

Well—I’m trying to find something. I’m trying to find something like a single black sand in the golden Sahara desert. I’m blindfolded. I’ve got my hands tied behind my back. But still—someone told me about this piece of sand. This one piece of black sand and now I just have to find it.

Except it’s not the desert—it’s life. And it’s not sand—it’s happiness. It’s this idea of being happy. It’s this idea of leading a full, burgeoning life. It’s this idea of doing everything you’ve ever wanted to do, no matter how much it fucking terrifies you.

What am I doing here? I’m just trying. I’m trying to devote my life to the pursuit of a genuine, brimming joy. I’m trying to move away from the average complicity I had developed after almost four years in New York. I mean the sort of happiness that stems from within and not from without—the kind that cannot easily be affected by outside influences—by weather or by surroundings or by a friend’s offhanded, quick remark. It isn’t overwhelming. It can be quiet, subdued. Completely nonobvious. But it is real in a way I haven’t yet experienced. It is real in the way it shapes your days and guides your hand and inclines your mouth to smile.

It is a happiness that grows and changes as you grow and change. It matches you in simple ways and in ways more complex and unfathomable. It does not erase sadness but yet reaffirms that all sadness can be temporary. All loss, all pain, all fear—we can search out their own separate kryptonite, we can drown out the sorrow in our lives until there is nothing left but a vast, barren, inner peace.

I stepped off the airplane in Edinburgh. It was grey and misting and I had nothing, nobody. I bumped into someone only for the chance to apologize—only for that tiny interaction that would allow me to open my mouth, smile, speak. Only to watch them smile back. Only to hear them say—Don’t worry about it. Cheers.

Only to remind myself—you’re a person here. You are not given a place; nobody is given a place. But there will be a place for you wherever you make one.

photo: flowers from my new landlord


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