“In my place, in my place, were lines that I couldn’t change. I was lost, oh yeah.” – Coldplay
It’s been thirteen months since I shook that darkness, and it’s not coming back. I’m not afraid of it anymore, because it’s no longer a thing that could just happen to me, like a flood or the New Madrid faultline opening up and swallowing everything I know here. Nope — it will only go dark again if I allow it to happen. Out here in the light, with all this new knowledge and all these useful tools at hand and all this infrastructure that I’m building building building every single goddamn glorious hopeful day; out here in the light, it’s my choice. Going back to the darkness is a choice.
I’m not going back.
Start a list of the things you need. Go from one to nine or so. Then, at the end, go back to the top and write in a PRIORITY ZERO: the precondition to all the other stuff. Seriously, you might be surprised what pops out of the murk of your mind if you sincerely try to put down the top nine and then ask it again if there’s a level even above all of those.
That’s what happened for me, and I wasn’t even expecting there to be a priority zero… maybe all this time and attention to the sound after the music stops and the whitespace in between my drawing marks and the unfound spaces on my old maps and the revealed gaps in my awareness prompted that realization: that there is one thing — one need — more important than all the other things, because none of the other things can happen without it.
For me, zero on that list was: I need to not be depressed.
And, if that’s right, then almost every other thing — almost any other thing — comes after that. Whew… talk about resorting prior belief systems and baseline assumptions.
If you are traveling with a small child, activate your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
So/and/but of course, while hypervigiliance isn’t how I roll anymore — ha, the irony of being a project manager who actively rejects the paranoid mindset — none of the above means I’m going to take any of this for granted, or switch to casually assuming it can’t happen. I can’t just sit back and coast down the tracks; fuck, man, I’m still laying the tracks just barely one block ahead of the ones I’m rolling on. Racing forward. Racing.
No: it’s a project. It’s a whole life framework; a life-style; a “practice” (to use the current vogue): meaning something that has nearly infinite room to grow and improve, and so can never hit an end point. This is a project I can never mark complete.
I’m OK with that. It gets a little tiring, sometimes, especially at the end of the day, but there’s always the luxury of going to bed early and firing up the next day at 4:30 or some hilarious am time like that (like today), and getting super pumped at the idea of assembling some more track, heading towards a distant quadrant of the map, seeing just how far this thing goes until I hit new lines I shouldn’t cross and then — hopefully, maybe — pushing right across those, too.
Meet me on the other side.
“Saying please, please, please, come back and sing to me, to me, me… Come on and sing it out, now, now… come on and sing it out, to me, me… Come back and sing it.”