I had been back at my parents house for a month or so and was slowly starting to enjoy the perks of being home, the pain I felt for missing my friends had eased and I could sleep at night without the sound of seagulls and trains outside my window. I spent days sitting in the front garden, reading through my dads adventure books and sipping gin from my parents cupboard. The weather was warm enough to slip off my shoes, but with a bite which kept my cardigan close by my side. The scratches from dried holly leaves which scattered the garden were made bearable by the beauty of my mums ever flourishing flower beds, and the company I recieved from the neighbours chickens. One brown, one black, one cream, they were three curious musketeers who wondered around the gardens together occassionally braving the unknown of our front lawn. I was starting to find contentment within a place which had once been home, but since had become a symbol of the strange limbo in which I was present. Somewhere my parents lived which held fond memories of my childhood and juvenile years, with mistakes and heartache ripe next to laughter and tender family dinners, and the constant reminder that this time in life was firmly in my past. I loved being there for the way it made me feel and the person it reminded me I once was, and this had begun to shadow the uncertainty of my future and my way forward. I found myself scraping the barrel of my mind and rational thought to find reasons and justifications not to make necessary decisions I needed to be able to take the next step in my life.
One morning, at around 11am I stood at the top of the stairs, in a towel, fresh out of the shower and not long out of bed. I spoke to my mother as she returned from her weekly pilates class and prepared to go back to work, and in my most assertive adult tone I explained to her why the promises I had made to myself and to my parents were in fact the wrong choices for me at that time. She looked me dead in the eye, kindly and lovingly, seeing directly through the lies she knew I was so trying so hard tell myself and believe.
‘Ok Ems’ she said ‘Just don’t let inertia stop you’
‘What does that mean?’ I asked
‘The lack of being able to change your physical state without the influence of an external force’ and she walked down the stairs and out of the door.
Still in my towel, hair dripping onto the wooden floor, I went into my bedroom and over to my computer. Turned it on and booked a one way flight to Basel, Switzerland. Getting back didn’t matter, I just needed to make sure that I made it there.
For many years, throughout my childhood and teen-hood I stood to watch around me, people who attempted to achieve, achieved or excelled in activities that I looked upon in wonder. In total awe of what they seemed to be able to reach without even stretching, without having to uncomfortably balance to reach the goal that they desired. I assumed that I had been presented by life with a different set of cards, given a different path through the family that I was born into, the body that I was given, the friends who chose me, the city in which I lived. I was defined and so restricted by those things which were outside of my control, things that I could not change. I ate down politely and quietly what I had been given, knowing that the hand I had been dealt was one of luxury, opportunity and privilege. In almost a single sentence my mother had stripped me bare of all these defining characteristics which I had been using as excuses to justify the fear I felt in confronting my future. In doing so she had become the external force to change my state of being, and therefore an ironic juxtaposition of her own point. She altered my attitude over the coming months, and I thought of her and that simple interaction we had had on a seemingly ordinary Thursday every time I was required to make a decision I felt I wasn’t brave enough to face.
Opportunities arose that on paper symbolised achievement and I said no to them because I knew they had no relevance to my personal happiness or the person I was trying to become. I said yes to spending time with people who I seemingly had nothing in common with in the hope they would provide a new outlook for me in some way. My leaps of faith and bravery stemmed from the fear that had been brewing inside me, which my mother had found and passed to me allowing me to take hold of it. I began to understand that fear was a part of my person, rather than myself being a part of it, and so used my ownership as a way of knowing which road to go down next. Without saying very much my mother drew light on the terrifying reality that the path your life takes is carved out of the choices you make after each card is drawn, and there is nobody standing by your side to make those choices in your place. Regardless of the hand we are dealt we have the opportunity to attempt to achieve, achieve or excel in activities we look upon in wonder. What I hadn’t realised before is the people who do so, are the ones that are stretching and uncomfortably balancing to reach the goal that they desire. They are contorting themselves in ways they weren’t born to bend, and pushing themselves to reform their natural shape. Uncertainty is unavoidable, regardless of the condition we find ourselves but the best we can do is take ownership of our fear, hold onto the strength it takes to make the next choice and most importantly remember it is you who needs to be brave enough to be your own external force and change your physical state.