It started with a question:
“What would you be more of if you could let go of the past?”
My first reaction to this question was a frown, no doubt a product of my love/hate relationship with self-improvement. I hate the “push for more” in Western culture. Pardon me for sounding hippy-ish, but the “never satisfied” American way is a just a way to keep us thinking we need the latest car, lip stick, handbag, golf clubs, diet fad, or self-help book to realize our “true” potential. Think about how obsessed we are with change. On a daily basis I read tweets, Facebook posts, and Tumblrs full of people who are trying desperately to become new people to accommodate the lives they dream of, rather than building a life that accommodates who they already are.
But in the last six months, something inside of me has been asking for some kind of life change. I felt it whenever I listened to Skyzoo’s “Ready to Fly” and found myself seduced by the line “Call me when you’re through with your past, and I’ll erase it.” So despite my iffy-ness with “self-improvement,” I was intrigued by the following gem from Danielle LaPorte:
Let’s say that a really cool Fairy Godmother appeared by your side right this second and said, “You are whatever you want to be from this day forward! We’ll just forget about all the times you were less than your best, and all the dark and brilliant ways that you’ve tried to love and be loved. And that one time you were a little bit nasty, let’s erase that from the record. And while we’re at it, we’ll forget about all the times you got bumped and bruised and neglected along the way.” It’s over. Free. Nothing to resent, nothing to be bitter about. Clean slate. Go.
I never came up with what I’d be “more” of if I let go of my past. I only reached the conclusion, in the weeks leading up to my 29th birthday, that I wanted to let go.
Which was why I stopped writing for awhile.
The more I spoke, the more I wrote, the more I explained, I felt like I was asking permission: “Please understand why I am who I am. Why I want what I want. Please let me be me. Because you see being the product of an extramarital affair/daughter in a home without male influence/survivor of depression and a suicide attempt/girl whose given too much of herself to the wrong men is why I am this way. But don’t worry, these things have had only a positive impact on me because see? Look how badass I am now.”
I lived this narrative for 28 years. I wanted a new one.
The day before my birthday I considered going all “Eat Pray Love;” writing down everything I wanted to be done with on pieces of paper, tearing those pieces of paper up, and setting them on fire.
In the end, I didn’t need such a dramatic showing. I only needed to make up my mind that it would be done. So on October 9th, I gave myself the gift of a clean slate; not the kind that encourages a start from scratch, but the kind that says “This is where I am and this is what I want” without needing to reinforce the point by announcing and justifying.
The kind of clean slate that clears mental and emotional space for the next thing.
Whatever that may be.