There’s a scene in Guardians of the Galaxy where the guardians are in total darkness and can’t find their way. Suddenly, Groot releases a flock of tiny embers, and they are able to see the path they need to take.
I’ve spent the last few months in relative darkness. It’s always this way. Starting in March and ending sometime in late spring or summer.
Every year I try to ignite different lights to guide me. I’ve taken solitary weekend trips to sleep, clear my head and regenerate.
That worked. For a few years.
I’ve tried exercise and yoga to practice mindfulness and encourage endorphins.
That worked. Once.
Last year, there were so few embers to guide me that I added new meds to my regimen and they were able to ignite enough light for me to see the path.
The thing is, there is no magical formula to light my way. When I have a purely good day, where I feel emotionally and physically healthy, it stands out. Like really stands out.
And then I think that night– what did I do? Not do? How did this balance of mental health occur? How can I recreate this feeling? How can I hold onto that contentment and satisfaction and energy?
And it’s so fucking frustrating because there IS no formula. There IS no list I can check off to be mentally healthy every day. And of course, that means I have no control over my brain. No control over its influence.
As a sufferer of anxiety, that’s the most vexing thing of all. No. Control.
And when I succeed at lighting an ember, it eventually gets extinguished. Or several will be lit, but they die too quickly– succumbing to an avalanche of nightmares, weather, personal slights, stress, work.
This year, I held on to spring break like a life preserver. We headed to Florida and for the first three days I slept more than I thought possible. I laid on the beach. Took walks. Loved my family. Relaxed. I came back with a pretty solid ray of light guiding my way.
And within two weeks it was just about gone.
Work, busyness, dreams, physical pain, fatigue, weather, stress, everything that everyone deals with on a daily basis just mixed and blended and slowly extinguished almost every light.
And I was back in the dark.
And so I’ve been quiet. Unmotivated to write, unmotivated to care much about anything. All of my energy has been spent on my kids’ happiness and staying somewhat competent at work.
But recently, the light has been coming from other places.
A thoughtful gift just because. An invitation. A letter of appreciation. A message of positivity.
And these have shone brightly enough that I’m beginning to find my way.
So I’m enclosing them in hurricane glass and feeding them with oxygen to burn brightly, for as long as I can.
To light my path and find my way.
And I feel like I’m almost clear.