Whenever I can’t figure life out, I take a walk. The fresh air and the motion of my feet help me dissipate the hurricanes that sometimes rage inside of my head. Breathing deeply helps me to calm myself down and relax.
When I was nineteen, my life was a spiral. I didn’t have complete control over where I was going. Without my parent’s knowledge or consent I had withdrawn from college. I didn’t have a place to live and I was working three jobs to try and keep up with bills. I slept for three hours every other day; my body was unable to adapt to the 3rd shift routine. I felt a hurricane raging in my head and decided a walk would help. I lived in the country and on my daily walks I rarely encountered any other human beings on the twisting roads. The last part of my walk entailed climbing “dead man’s hill” which left me breathless even at a slow pace. On the steepest part of the hill I noticed a small plastic card sticking up from a decomposing tangle of leaves. When I picked it up I saw that it had a poem on it entitled “Don’t Worry.” The inspirational poem on that battered card still guides my life today. The words explained that we can’t do anything about yesterday or tomorrow, but we can focus on the struggles of today. It said “anyone can face the battle of just one day. It is only when we add the burdens of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that contentment will escape us.” For me, that card was exactly what I needed to help me breathe the hurricane away and to know that I was going to be okay.
I have had that card with me every day since that walk. It helps me breathe even when I feel the hurricane in my mind. I held it in my hand when I landed in London for my work abroad program. I was alone and afraid of what was yet to come, but I was able to breathe knowing I could face one day at a time. I kept it on my nightstand my first year of teaching when every moment on some days was a struggle. I was getting over the fear of my own voice and being the one in control – that card helped me to relax and breathe. I kept it in a frame on my dresser after 911 hit and I was living by myself in Philadelphia feeling fear and uncertainty. I took it to the hospital with me when I went into labor knowing that as my doula told me “We have a lot of good work to do today” but not knowing what to expect.
This I believe, that anyone can face the struggles of one day. Sometimes we just need a reminder to breathe and keep walking – one step at a time, one day at a time.
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