I glanced down at my hands in my lap and tentatively raised them into the air a few inches, hoping against hope that they’d show a little more courage than I myself was feeling – but sure enough, they quivered vigorously, as time seemed to beat and throb cruelly inside my brain. “Traitors,” I wanted to mutter.
I wanted someone to swoop in, and hold and still them, to reassure me and tell me that everything – no matter what happened in this one moment that would inevitably feed into the next – would be okay, but even as this thought rose up in me, I realised that sometimes, there can’t be someone there to take your hand and drive away all your fears.
Sometimes, you can’t hide away in a room and ignore the world outside you because there’s an errand, a project or a meeting to attend to. It’s waiting for you. You could leave it, you could cancel if you really wanted to, sure – but the hardest part about life sometimes is knowing that you cannot escape these things for very long.
Tomorrow, or in a week or even a year’s time, these same kind of demands will be there, beckoning to you. Awaiting your arrival. It’s easy to ignore them and lock yourself away where it feels ‘safe’, hiding there under a false sense of security and a tauntingly thin safety net when real life is out there, just waiting, biding its time – and that is something that none of us can escape for very long.
I’ve learnt this past while that mistakes, even the ones that seem the worst, can exist in your memory without regret. You realise, as you begin to take responsibility for your thoughts, ways and actions that very often, something that seems like a mistake at one point in your life, might be the very thing that defines, shapes and empowers you.
It might be the answer to the prayer you never heard yourself utter because it was a subconscious longing more than a heartfelt desire, it might be the call you never expected to receive or the opportunity you never anticipated having.
Whatever it is and no matter its form, there are some things that you cannot take back – not because time waits for no man or because our deeds are done and dusted, but because, even if you could, even if you were given the easiest, most effortless chance to hit ‘Rewind’ and erase that so-called ‘mistake’, you wouldn’t because some mistakes are too good and meaningful to ever regret. Some mistakes are memories you hope to never forget.
I’ve accepted, too, that there are times when things can be overwhelming and terrifying, but in which you learn a few important facts about life and they are that: the people who truly love you, will always come through for you in these moments, no matter what sacrifices or personal costs may be incurred by them in the process. You learn that you can cope even when you feel you can’t.
Above all though, you discover in time, usually when push comes to shove, that there is nothing more resilient and powerful than the human spirit, than our subtle, yet unmistakable will to survive and our quiet, ingrained faith that somehow, no matter what may come to pass, things will turn out all right.
You remember how to breathe again in the moments when your breath is taken from you, whether by fear or by amazement and you learn to keep on keeping on because the alternative is simply not an option available to us.
I’ve grown to understand that some decisions are entirely our own to make and no matter how much advice those around us may provide, in the end, there are some choices that we can only make for ourselves.
Telling someone something is wrong, careless or hopeless is not going to make them believe it if they don’t immediately feel that to be true – and even when we do, even when we know all too well the risks we face, the chances to be hurt, disappointed or abandoned all over again, sometimes we still need to take that chance and see for ourselves just what the outcome will be because, whilst hindsight is a wonderful gift and a cruel tormentor, it is not remotely as vital to us as our gut feeling and our natural instinct, our personal intuitiveness.
I’ve learnt, too, that we must accept, adapt and live by the consequences of our decisions but that even when they are at their most frightening or things look as murky and uncertain as morning fog, there is still a sliver of hope to be found if we search hard enough for it and there is always something to be done.
One decision is not going to irreparably change, define or cripple your entire life… that is why redemption and new beginnings are possible and open to people from all walks of life, no matter how dark and sinister or fraught with sorrow, despair and difficulty their pasts have been. We are all capable of changing and finding new paths in life to take, of turning over a new leaf and starting afresh.
I didn’t think all these things as I watched my hands tremble of their own accord but I did know that no matter what would happen going forwards and, despite the fear and helplessness I felt in that moment, somehow, things would work themselves out, much as they had so often in the past.
I realised in that moment that, as much as my hands were the greatest evidence of my fear and disquiet, they were also, the very things shaping me because safety and security cannot help us to grow when it really boils down to it.
So, I clenched my fists to still their unseemly movement – this raw evidence of weakness – and decided I would press on no matter what because often that’s what it means to live life to the best of your ability… it means you keep on trying, you push through your doubts and fears, and still somehow find it in you to look forward to the future with as much determination, hope and fearlessness as possible, no matter the odds.