The patron saints of the wayward traveler looked to you to guide their way, ancestors of a culture steeped in respect for you. You lit their path through the inky night.
You are the original roadmap. Connecting the dots, a finger traces a path through your abyss.
You are a blanket that expands me rather than constricts me. Beneath your cool breeze I am infinitely small, and yet I am the whole universe. My worries subside under your ancient eye.
Careful, you warn. Even we do not last forever.
And when you do burn out, your light remains. You leave the kind of mark I dream of — stoking souls long, long after you are gone. You show me that even the strongest, most concrete fixtures of life are impermanent. You show me that while I am forever small, I am never alone.
You are the wisest of them all. You listen to my silent fears and aspirations as I lay below you on the cold, damp earth, grass tickling at the tips of my ears. You are imprinted as a patchwork into some of my most cherished memories.
And when I am apart, I look up at you, letting your cool light bathe my face and I know that no matter how far, this same light touches the faces of those that I hold dear.
You are not warm and coddling, but rather incite the strength and passion within us to light up our own darkness, to fight our own battles. You do not champion us, but you quietly believe in us.
A sisterhood of strength, bright enough to light up the darkest of nights, you ease the fear of all. Some connected, some apart, you shine your brightest for all, never discriminating. And even when we cannot see you, when you are hidden and we feel alone, you shine still, promising us that we will see the light once more.
That is strength. To stand beside one another, solid and proud, and shine your light no matter who sees. You guide my way through the darkness. You show me how to find my own way through the darkness. And when I lose my way, all I need do is look up, and you are there to remind me that I tooam made of stardust.
Every single day, millions of incredible things happen. Whether or not they happen to you, the world is filled with little miracles and beautiful moments that occur each second.
However, we often find ourselves so wrapped up in our lives and our worries that we neglect to see these things. It takes an awareness of the surrounding world to tune outside yourself and really see all that there is.
While at first it may be difficult, with time this practice will flow more and more easily. But even when we do notice these moments for a smile, it can be hard to remember them. The more we practice, the easier it comes. Writing down what we see not only tracks our progress, but helps us remember little beautiful memories over the days and years.
Inspired in part by the movie “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things,” I decided to track all of the tiny perfect things each day that I bear witness to. Each moment I see that brings me or someone else even the smallest spark of joy, I document it. Every pure, honest, beautiful, true moment that I witness, I flag it in my memory, and write it down before bed.
What began with a single journal, a fresh page, and three perfect things has become so much more. Slowly, I noticed that my little notebook page seemed to grow smaller and smaller as my list grew longer and longer. Not only was it becoming easier to recall perfect things throughout my day, but I was able to recall them so much more descriptively.
I try to recall not only the moment in its visual depiction, but also the feelings it evoked or the way it touched me. When I read what I wrote, I want it to make me feel the same way it did in the moment it occurred.
It is incredible the power that this exercise has had on my life. Even on the worst of days, I can often find at least three beautiful moments, even if none of them happened to me. It is the most reflective and invaluable way to end my night and completely change my perspective on a seemingly awful day.
It is no exaggeration to say that this practice has changed my outlook on life. When you begin to notice these beautiful moments, it seems as if they are drawn to you. I believe that they were always there, but merely veiled to most who do not pay attention.
Now that these instances are unveiled to me, I am able to draw on little moments of joy throughout my day. When I feel my worst, I can find moments of happiness wherever I look. I am able to live more in the present and notice my surrounding. I actively search out the beauty in life. I see beauty in others hearts and in nature and in the mundane tasks of day-to-day life. It is far easier said than done, but each day I grow better.
If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be this: just begin. We are all guilty of wanting things for ourselves but never committing, telling ourselves that we will just begin tomorrow. The only reason I am able to see all of the beauty in life is because, one day, I decided to change. I chose to begin. I resolved to open up a new journal to a new page and put pen to paper. And I do not regret it.
If you are unhappy with your life, it is within your power to change it. Your mindset it everything. And while it takes time and discipline to change your mind, it can be a relatively simple process. All you have to do is begin.
We, as humans, like things that have names. We do not like the indescribable. Things that have names have a nice little box that fits in its nice little slot in the universe. With undiagnosed chronic illness, I am free floating in space with no niche for me to cozy into. Living a life without a diagnosis is living a life untethered.
The thing about our medical system is that they won’t treat what they can not name. No matter the debilitating symptoms that hold you back from living your life, without a name, you are adrift, alone in the fight.
The needle has become a familiar friend as doctors run test after test until there aren’t any more and they circle back to the basics. I find myself hoping that my numbers will leap out of the normal range, alerting my doctors that no, this is not in my head. As my blood sugar crashes and my heart rate spikes I demand through a haze of pain, No. There is something wrong. You just don’t know what.
There is no test to measure the shards of glass beneath my feet that everyone else seems to dodge, no test to determine the level of fatigue in my muscles that tire so much faster than they once did, no test to quantify the debilitating exhaustion that binds me to my bed. I know how I feel. But no doctor, no matter how qualified or compassionate, can feel what I feel.
And so I drift. I find myself suspended in an in-between space. The space between the sick and the actively recovering. I wait for a wave of relief when someone finally gives me a name. That name holds so much power. I wait for the relief because with that name, there is a plan. A plan of how to move forward, how to anchor myself back down to the land of the truly living.
But while a diagnosis will show me the path to physical wellness, I have spent enough time in the in-between space to know that I can begin to reclaim my power without a name. There are other avenues of wellness. I can listen to my body, and not push farther than it allows. And while I may not be able to heal my body, I can heal my brain. I can take care of my mental health, and send my body love. Through mindfulness, I can get rid of the thoughts that do not serve me, and learn to find joy. This, in itself, is healing.
Sure, I don’t have a diagnosis, and maybe that means I don’t get the medical attention I need just yet, but I am still growing. I may be adrift, but I am collecting pieces of driftwood, and soon I may just have a raft.