A Note to Me, From Me

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You’re present in this moment but much, much more than that- you’re a testament to the person you once were and the person you’re yet to become.

You hurt, you heal, you grow, you feel. And that’s the most important of all- because feeling is sacred and exactly what makes you human. It’s your right to feel the kaleidoscope colours of love right from the mellow yellows of the honeymoon period to the dark gloom of the end. It’s your right to find yourself reduced to the verge of hysteria because of the novel you’re reading or to find your heart racing at the end of the Game of Thrones finale. It’s your right to connect with the mesmerising riff of a phone recorded demo, to scribble away with no thoughts and a butterfly garden in your stomach.

It’s okay to cocoon yourself up and cry until your skin is as smooth as the surface of a pebble. It’s okay to look around at the people around you and feel as though your heart might explode with overwhelming gratitude. It’s okay to wake up on some mornings and not feel okay at all.

But it’s only okay if you use everything you’ve attained in your favour. It’s only okay if you remember the hurt you carried for all those years and use it to remind yourself of the darkness you’ve faced. It’s only okay if you use that reminder to fuel your workout at the gym or to belt that note that once seemed unattainable. It’s only okay if you learn to recognise that the past is beyond your control but important regardless for it’s significance in shaping you.

You are a patchwork tapestry, gaining new textures and dimensions with every thought and experience. You’ve grown in more ways than you could ever have imagined as a child, perhaps not taller physically but emotionally– Emotionally you’ve been tested and you’ve learned to be malleable, to welcome change where necessary so that you can better yourself.

Where once naivety made you vulnerable to the manipulation of others, you’ve attained new insight. Where once your pride rendered you incapable of vulnerability, of opening up to others, you’ve softened. Where once you were wounded, you grew new skin, and a thicker one at that. You were designed for this.

Though there’s many things you want to attain, you ought to take a moment to admire and appreciate the journey you’ve undergone so far. Stop and truly look at yourself. You might have forgotten what it means to see yourself because you’ve spent so long running, so long consumed in The Now. But how would The Now exist at all without all that you’ve seen and touched and felt before it?

Don’t forget the hospital bed under the glow of the front room lamp, the taste of your first legal pint, the way he carried you down Scafell Pike when your knee gave in, the time we all chased the thunder and lightning in PJ’s. The way your heart sank when you heard. Don’t forget the way that they look at you, with faith, the ones who matter in more ways than they could ever know. Try to believe what it is they say they see in you.

You might be afraid that even now after everything you’ve been through, you’re not quite enough. That you’re not where you ought to be. That you’ve failed someone. That you’ve failed yourself.

But you’ve made it this far.

You’ve defied the critical expectations of others but most importantly yourself.

And if you’ve made it to this point, then who’s to say that you can’t go any further?

Look forward to all there is to come. You don’t have to know what exactly that constitutes, but embrace it and all other uncertainties. You are and always will be exactly where you need to be.

(Untitled until I get my thoughts together)

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The bus journey to work and back isn’t just a practicality- it offers me ample time to examine humans of all shapes, dialects and sizes. On some elusive yet worthy days, I share magical moments with strangers I know I’ll probably never see again. Those moments are enough to outweigh the increasing fare costs, harassment and waiting times that occupy the life of the commuter.

A few weeks ago, during my thirty minute wait at the interchange, I was approached by a man who I later learned was called Paddy. Keeping his distance, he initially came over to ask for some change, so I obliged naturally. This very basic interaction somehow developed into a pretty substantial talk. I mean, we talked right until my bus came about a plethora of things including his life, my life, the life of the average Joe scraping together pennies in Britain and the beautiful Tories to which we direct no frustrations at all… Paddy was really grateful that I took the time to talk to him- I know this because he told me this several times and also that it was nice to just be able to talk to people sometimes without being judged and dismissed from the onset. He also said that he accepted his place in life and didn’t blame anybody but himself for putting himself there- Paddy made it very clear that he wasn’t homeless, that a small stint of rebelliousness in his youth resulted in the tarnishing of his criminal record and thus the problematic cycle of unemployment. Paddy also said that some mornings he wakes up and wonders why he’s stuck around.

From just a few details, I was able to paint a pretty clear picture of Paddy’s existence. I found that as much as it deeply upset me to hear somebody admit to finding solace in the idea of death, I didn’t pity him. Instead, I imagined all the people who spent their days forging an obliviousness to the very tangible Paddy on his journey around the city and pitied them. Not for failing to provide him with money, but rather for failing to see him as a human being.

Isn’t it strange that dehumanisation (the very same process related to, for example, The Holocaust), is still so prevalent today? Human beings who, for all we know, have been dealt the worst of cards in life still find the strength to wake up and deal with the prejudice hundreds of years in the making. Human beings just like me and you. We don’t know each other’s stories and yet we’re so quick to formulate a mental template to justify ignorance or avoidance. To ignore the problems that are mental health issues, unemployment, homelessness or addiction aren’t to fix them.

Depression, as we all know, is an ugly illness that can drag you down to your lowest and loneliest. The faces of friends and family become a distant circle of people you want to confide in, but feel you can’t. I’ve watched many loved ones face their own personal downward spirals into the darkest places as well as clawed at the walls from the inside, too. It occurred to me, however, that Paddy and many others face this journey practically alone. Who’s there to intervene and get him help? Who would notice if Paddy wasn’t around tomorrow? Would anybody even care?

The scariest thing to consider is that with enough ignorance, a person can be led to believe that they’re not worthy of being seen. Who are we to determine this? No person should be invisible. Eventually, they’ll no longer exist thanks to our failure to show at least a moment of compassion in passing. To be acknowledged with eye contact is a small victory for somebody so used to being overlooked, at least that’s what I gathered from Paddy who I’ve not since encountered.

Talking to Paddy really stirred something in me, a frustration that has led to this spontaneous ‘rant’ because I don’t really know where else to put these feelings. In a city as diverse and yet divided as Bradford, we owe it to ourselves to experience in full the gratification of beauty in our differences. Instead we file on, earphones embedded in our skulls and music drowning out most chances of communication with others. What a beautiful life we’re missing out on.