These days, you get caught up. It’s too easy to let it happen… to let it get to you.
We all know it — falling into the rhythm and routine of the day-to-day — commute work commute chores sleep. Commute work commute chores sleep. Commute work commute socials sleep. Commute work commute… sleep.
Suddenly you’re 25, or you’re going on 30. Or you’re 35 and nowhere near where you wanted to be at 35, when at 25.
By now you’ve most probably experienced all the thrills of riskless youth. You’ve seen (and felt) a good amount of things. They weren’t enough. Of course they weren’t enough — they never will be, unless you sort things out. And by things, I mean your mindset.
I’m 25, I’m ambitious, but I’m exhausted.
It takes a significant amount of conscious effort to resist the pushing and pulling of a modern life — to take control of how you live daily is not something one can naturally be prepared for.
For me, the turning point was when I realized I couldn’t enjoy my hobbies the way I used to. I couldn’t read for longer than 15 minutes at a time. I stroke the strings of my guitar aimlessly. I pause films to check my phone (God forgive me). I write ideas for photography projects down but never get to doing them. Every other YouTube recommendation is saved to Watch Later, yet none of them were, in fact, watched later.
It frightened me to the core. There is no progress, no upskilling, no satisfaction.
Sigh? Sighing is usually being viewed as a negative — a sign of disappointment, giving up, loss of control, fatigue, disapproval… and though a sigh of relief signifies an end or of overcoming, its roots do still lie in negativity.
As 2020 begins, I want to turn my sighs around. I want to seek and revisit sighs of satisfaction.
Now when you empty a full bladder after holding it in for ages, you exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you are at the end of a guilt-free, well-deserved meal, lie back, look around the table and see only faces you love, you exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you just wrapped up a long, busy week of good work, got home early, got the chores done, and plop down on the couch ready to settle in for a quiet night, then think about the fact that tomorrow is Saturday, and you have absolutely zero plans and zero obligations, you exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you pop into bed exhausted from some sort of intense physical exertion earlier, but are now clean and full, and find to your utter delight that the sheets are fresh, crisp and cold, and you run your limbs across them, and you exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you’re deep in the wilderness, and the closest problem is a hundred miles away, and you realize you are in fact truly alone, you breathe in deeply, and exhale slowly — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when the grey clouds part for the first time on that cold, wet, winters day, and you get that bit of ray on the back of your neck, you remove your gloves and raise your palms into the air, and exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you’ve trekked 15 kilometres and finally stand atop a summit, and before and below you lies the brown-green-black expanse of the earth, and behind and above you the crystal blue and diamond bright sky and sun, you feel, on your face, the cold bite of the wind, or the warm kiss of a zephyr, and you think of nothing, absolutely nothing, yet feel, in an instant that also happens to last forever, the complete freedom and rawness of existing, not alone, but in touch with every sight and sound and life around you, life before you and after you, and suddenly you are soaring, soaring, soaring…
You realise you are holding your breath, and so you exhale, and my God, with your breath flows the abundance of life, the energy of life, the power of life, and you are so shocked from touching your own spirit that you imagine feeling akin to God when He first breathed life into Adam.
Now your eyes are wet and your throat is dry, so you take a good chug from your bottle, and you exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you see an excited dog whirling round its master in the park, you smile, and you exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you’re in the train on your commute, glance out, and catch the kindergarten teacher standing among a chaotic circle of shrieking, darting kids, head thrown back in hearty laughter, you smile, and you exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you witness a circle of lovely old folks around the table cracking inappropriate jokes over coffee and cigarettes, then struggle to restrain their laughter for fear of bursting a vein, you chuckle soundlessly through your nose (is there a word for that?) — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you take the initiative and go out of your way to help a colleague, which leads to their receiving public commendation from their superior, garnering gentle applause from the office floor, you clap along and smile because you’re ok with that, and exhale, albeit lightly — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when the day is at its end and you are alone in your room upon your bed, quiet, still, you remember the approval from your father about the minor repair you carried out in the house earlier today, and you close your moist eyes, rub your warm chest, and exhale — that is a sigh of satisfaction.
Now when you reflect upon the most terrible week you’ve had, your body spent, your mind drained, you crash back onto the couch. Then you look to your right and find, on the other end, your partner tapping away on their phone, who suddenly sneezes their signature sneeze 4 times in a row, and proceeds to exclaim “fucking hell” under their breath while wiping their hand on their lap, to your immediate disgust and amusement.
Suddenly you behold them in their entirety, sat there a hand’s length away from you, and all their individual likes and dislikes, pains and pleasures, quirks and idiosyncracies, rush in to merge with yours, creating a surge of memories and experiences shared and tears shed and milestones celebrated and cold nights and warm mornings and sorrows and triumphs and all these overwhelm you, driving the previous hardships out of your system, and instead filling you to the brim with passion and care and wonder…
You exhale slowly but surely, with the breath of one entangled in the blessed conviction of love — that, is a sigh of satisfaction.
2020 seems to be promising for many. What a lovely year it already sounds like — twenty twenty. It is time to take control; and also give up control by simply allowing. Oftentimes, beauty doesn’t boast. It is up to us to be more conscious, more active, more observant, more intentional…. with where we give our attention.
I believe that sighs of satisfaction are not hard to come by. The effort isn’t only in the pursuit of them — but also in the banishing of our ignorance. We must seek in order to find, to desire in order to acquire.
I desire to have a soul more tender — and sighing in satisfaction elongates the soul, doesn’t it?