One recent evening, I stood by a window in a typical Parisian flat, overlooking the Paris skyline.
From my vantage point, beyond an industrial-looking apartment building whose rooftop was adorned with sharp, sloping, geometric angles reminiscent of mountaintops, a dusty blue sky melted into the horizon. I could see the Montparnasse and Eiffel Towers, as well as the Sacré-Cœur, but my attention was drawn to the two visible planets, Jupiter and Venus, and a few bright, dazzling stars.
As I looked up, I felt startled, yet enlivened, by the smallness, and possible insignificance, of our existence. The manner in which we play out our stories on a rock that floats in a vast, little known expanding darkness. It made the moment, the impermanence of all things, feel acute.
I told the man standing next to me, “I know this might sound stupid, but sometimes the weight of our freedom, of our nothingness, that we exist on this rock at all, with so much unnerving beauty, so much that we cannot fathom, surrounds us. It makes my heart hurt, and the inside of my head compress, while at the same time, I am incredibly inspired by it.”
He smiled, and said, “There have been many great thinkers before you, such as Einstein, who thought, felt, similar things, and they were not stupid.” I smiled. And after a moment of pause, he said, “So what do you do about it?”
I thought about his question for a while. I didn’t tell him that I’d felt this way for my whole life, that it was this line of thinking driving me.
Later, we stood together in the center of a crowded room, while people mingled, and danced, around us, and everything felt more itself -- the colors in the room, the sound of laughter, the texture and weight of the wine glass in my hand.
We were discussing resonance as a key to transformation, and how a single idea can change a lifetime’s worth of thought.
I receded into my thoughts momentarily and considered the change process I’ve been navigating the last several years, after an extended period of self-abandonment. I’d lost touch with that inspiring thought, of the miracle of our existence.
Though, I didn’t want to ruin the mood by sharing my life story. I didn’t want to tell him about the losses, some swift, like the deaths of my parents, and some intentional, like quitting my job, moving countries, and the ending of some friendships which have all cumulatively altered my relational connection to the world.
I’d been living life through a lens of unhealed family wounds and trauma. But after the recent death of my father, I sensed that I had an opportunity to evolve. I’d been at this edge before, though, in the past, I’ve backed off it, mainly, since I lacked trust.
Change is uncomfortable, scary, and wild. Often, we don’t feel like it’s possible for us. And yet, possibility, daring to wonder, is an anchoring feature of creativity, of resonance. How was I going to explain this to a person I’d just met?
One of the most trying tensions of life is that we are not in control, as much as we try to be. Yet, we draw inspiration from so many iterations of change in nature -- a sunset, a waxing and waning moon, the pop of fresh leaves in spring.
The possibility that I could reveal an essence of beauty in myself, and feel more connected to nature, to the source, inspired me to take a risk last summer and change my life.
I set out on a course to unpack my past, and to pick up as many truths as I could find. I made an agreement with myself to write everything down along the way. What came of it was a constant, enduring, peeling back of layers and layers of stories, so to speak, to reveal the creative, self-generating wonder that I am, that all of us humans are.
The physical result was the completion of my first book. The spiritual result was freedom.
Through honesty and self-reflection, healing birthed a creative process, both inward, and outward. It brought me into presence, and into a religion of gratitude.
“To answer your question from before,” I said, “I am thankful for everything. For the highs and all the lows. I am moved into being by all of it.” And then I added, "How can you not be?"
Someone turned the music up and we started to dance. The uncertainty of everything was scattered among the stars.
We were delighted, for there was nowhere else to be.
Jocelyn M. Ulevicus is a writer, educator, and seeker — seeker of truth and beauty. Her work aims to assign a meaningful, accessible, and loving language to themes of loss, trauma, and heartache. You can follow her on Instagram or contact her via her website.
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