Flash back 11 months, 2 weeks, 3 days and 5 hours before. I pondered the year that was ending. What could I say I had achieved or done for myself? Or for anyone really? How had I made myself a better person or the world a better place? I wasn’t feeling particularly ecstatic or accomplished.
Earlier in the year, I had ended a really ugly relationship. Or maybe it had been the relationship that had ended me; can’t be too sure now. My job had taken a more difficult turn, mostly because my boss had asked me out and I had declined. I felt like I wasn’t making any personal or professional progress and it weighed on my soul like a ton of bricks.
I had no investments, no trade, no alternate source of income. It was a fantastic recipe for long nights of self-pity. And I wallowed. Boy! Did I wallow! It was a struggle finding the motivation to do anything. And it was even harder trying not to retreat into my shell and shut everyone out. My anti-social bone grew even stronger and I spent more and more time alone, refusing to genuinely connect with anybody.
And then I had the crazy idea of running away. Yes. I decided that ‘running away’ for a bit would help me. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t running away to go think and take stock and figure out what to do with myself. I was running away to forget, if only for a short time, about all the troubles that plagued me. So I called up a friend in Zimbabwe and asked him if he would like to go on a 5 day sojourn with me. And he agreed.
I ran away to Zimbabwe. I went to see Victoria Falls; the smoke that thunders; and I spent some time learning about the history of the Zimbabwean peoples. We did a road trip from Harare, passing through my friend’s home town in Bulawayo, to great Zimbabwe where we saw the ruins of an ancient civilisation. I surprised myself by climbing up those hills, and realized that I actually quite enjoyed what the Oyinbo people call ‘hiking’. It’s not a past time I ever saw myself liking, but like it I did.
At the bottom of those falls, and at the top of those hills, and somewhere deep in the game reserves of Victoria, among the wildlife, I found myself. Somehow, while driving through the streets and highways, and trekking the winding paths leading to the falls and up the hills, while having some of the most honest and open conversations I’d ever had with my friend, while eating fried eggs off an open skillet with giraffe and zebra families wandering around me, I found peace. And I know it sounds very cliché but I actually really found peace. I learned the kind of person that I am. I learned what made me happy. I learned the things that motivated me. I found a calm I had never found before. And I knew that I was going to do things differently when I got back home.
One year later, I’m in a much better place. Both in my head and in my life. I like myself better, even though I haven’t lost as much weight as I would like (will continue this year). I like my job better; and no, my job hasn’t changed. But my attitude towards it has (Plus, I got a new boss :)). I’ve gotten bold enough to make an investment or two. I’m taking time out to do the creative things that I love. I have a million ideas about where to get additional income and am gearing up for one or two of them already. Simply put, I’m happy.
What did I do? What changed?
I came to terms with the fact that I alone am the only one who can help me. Not a man. Not my boss. Not my friend. Me.
I needed to pick myself up from that depression dustbin that I seemed to be reveling in and do something about the things I didn’t like. For once in my life, I made New Year resolutions that I kept! Well, except one. Or two. Lol. But, mostly, my list of things to do in 2016 was done. And the most important lesson I learned was that sometimes you need to take a step back from it all, almost look at it from a different angle, or not look at it at all, to be able to get the inspiration you need to take the next step.
It’s so easy to fall into a rut. It’s even easier to stay there. Climbing out of one on the other hand, requires grace. And strength. And a support system. And the willingness to come out of it. For me, I had to take a trip to get away. For you, it might not be a trip; it might be a day at the beach or somewhere else where you can feel a sense of calm; somewhere ‘safe’ from all your worries. It might be a nice long chat with an old friend. Or with a new friend; something liberating; something unfamiliar, unusual; yet familiar. It might happen while you’re reading a book, or watching reruns of movies you loved as a child. Anything to take your mind off what’s ailing you. It might be spending time playing with your child, learning the things that give him/her joy.
Whatever it is, just do it. Now is as good a time as any. Don’t listen to the voices in your head telling you it can’t be better. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t ‘yimu’ and think that all of this is just BS. I used to be that person. But I know better.
Another year has begun. Make your resolutions count for something this year. Make them meaningful. Can’t remember who it was who said you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect to get different results. Get a different perspective and then soldier on. It’s your life. And you have a duty to live it as fully as is possible. I am. And I hope you will too.
Happy New Year…