*Note: This was first published as part of my #100WritingDays Medium experiment.
Is This It?
It’s easy to get sucked into one way of thinking, when you only live your life one way. Staying under one roof, with one partner. Hanging out with the same group of friends, or not hanging out with anyone at all. Having one job, or having no job. Picking the same foods from the same supermarket aisles. Experiencing a different sameness every weekend. The result of this is thinking that there’s only one definition of success, and that there’s only one method to the art of living. I begin to think that everyone else’s wants are my needs, and that their lack is my lack. I construct barriers for myself without realising. Isn’t this how society works? Isn’t this the correct roadmap for the rest of my life? I see many people going pass me on this path, so it has to be the one?
What is Normal?
This is one of the many reasons why I love travelling so much, despite my multitude of chronic illnesses which makes it a hindrance. It is the fastest and easiest way to re-open my mind, and realise that the possibilities of my future are endless. The first thing I always notice is how different their normal is. Setting foot onto a stranger’s territory brings about an instant awareness that there’s no such thing. I’m the alien with foreign ways here, and my concept of life puzzles them. Travelling unwinds the strings around my heart, and I float free. Ah, freedom, what a beautiful and fleeting sensation. While I could do this by myself back home, travel is a puff of pressure that propels this emotion forward.
Invoking Good Feelings on Bad Days
This got me thinking as to how I can recreate this feeling and be mindful of this fact when I’m back to the grind. It isn’t too hard, although it does take some time and courage. I could expand my group of friends, for example. We tend to hang out with those who think like us. This is great, but it also runs the risk of sealing ourselves within our small perspective bubble. We are unable to comprehend the lives of others of a different social status, nor they ours. But I also believe that as humans, we have the potential to adapt to almost anything when forced to, or given a chance. Sometimes, even we have no idea how we could lived the way we did before.
Changing careers is a big move that also invokes this same realisation. You meet new people, take a different bus, or work on a different job scope. The routine may be similar, yet everything changes, too.
The Chronic Illness Mouse Trap
And for those of us with chronic illnesses who spend our days at home in pain, unable to work, cook or clean, this routine can feel terminal as well. Will we ever be like everyone else again? Which begs the question…who is ‘everyone else’? Do I mean my friend, ex-colleague, ex-lover, Paris Hilton, or a boy from the slums of Delhi? Perhaps I meant ‘every healthy person’, ‘from my country’. But as I have discovered, this is a defective and harmful way of thinking, because perfection exists only in my imagination.
Finding My Best New Normal Again (and Again)
Life is about uprooting and replanting. Sometimes by the gardener of life, and other times by stormy weather. But we can also choose to change our scenery; there is nothing stopping us but our belief that we can’t, or shouldn’t. Perhaps we’re afraid about what they’ll say, or we fear what may be. Routine, no matter how unstable, feels safe because we know how to deal with it. But guess what? We’ll know how to deal with a new way of living, too. And we’ll wonder then, how we could have lived the life we’re living right now.
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