… about the importance of love.
My story begins just like many others' - a battle with mental health, and finding a place within the world. Age eleven was my first suicidal thought - a vivid memory, and one which my mother still does not know of for I haven’t the heart to tell her. I’m twenty-four now. I still duel the shadows (with my enchanted iron Minecraft sword and wits because those are the only two weapons I possess).
But I’m not here today to talk about the negatives and allow myself to wallow in the sorrows of yesterday. I’m here to talk about why I’m still here today, and how an emotion so simple on paper and complex in practice has altered by life in a way which words truly can’t even fully express - but I’ll do my best, for you.
I’m here to talk about love.
By this, I don’t mean a single relationship with a school-girl crush status, or a happily ever after from a story book. I don’t mean finding your soul-mate, but finding your soul.
Self-love, love for others both platonic and romantic, love for the Earth and all upon it… Without it, our world is a gloomy place where the sun don’ shine and the birds don’ sing. Learning to love openly, freely and unconditionally was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I make some very exciting breakfast choices on a daily basis so that’s a big call.
When did my ‘heart education’ begin?
Three years ago now, I hit a particularly rough patch. While I knew deep down that I wanted to be okay, I was riding a consistent roller coaster of up and down. I couldn’t hold control, the tracks broke and finally it sank me lower and more dramatically than the Titanic (it was a miracle I managed to survive, sorry Leo) but, rather than accepting I would forever walk the bottom of the ocean, something flicked a single light bulb on. I never saw the fingers of whatever it was (could it have been my last breath of will power?). That day I sat with elbows upon my desk and wrote a very important statement in fluid cursive upon the notepad of my mind:
“I’m so tired of being sad. I should just be happy instead.”
And that’s all, folks!
No, not quite actually. It was nowhere near as straightforward and my ‘happy ending’ is still an Everest away. But that’s where the change first started happening and suddenly I found myself appreciating the smallest things in life: a blue sky, the warm sunshine, the sound of pen to paper as I scrawled away pouring thoughts out as literature, the taste of peppermint tea; each and every single thing became a reason to make it another day. I can’t confirm if the afterlife has pizza.
Suddenly, just the act of waking up every morning - be it to overly vocal birds, my cat’s high-pitched wail, a flood of light or a vibrant sunrise - was precious. Important moments in my day included getting out of bed, breakfast, second breakfast, and looking in the mirror and seeing myself alive and functioning. I would experience pride for completing the most mundane of tasks, especially those which only furthered this newfound mindset.
Bad days began turning into bad moments on good days. Perhaps life wasn’t so horrible after all.
I learned to love the little things.
After my previous relationship ended, I threw all ideals into a bin and made a choice to stay determinedly alone and selfishly do whatever made me the happiest - assuming that other people did not need to be involved and without them I’d be better off. It worked for a while. I entered a state of ‘bliss’ where I believed I was happy. I was not going to be ‘held back’ by others, and it wasn’t as if those around me showed any incentive to care either. People didn’t actually matter. They were just there. I was never nasty, just nonchalant. It was all about me.
Then, by the chance-iest of chances I made a new best friend on the interwebs and he (without realising it) opened my eyes to how the way we speak influences society, community and individuals, and how that power is used for both bad and good with reference to modern day discrimination, childhood experiences and movements through words. More than that, he taught me that it was good to care when prior I had just been told, “Ignorance is bliss.” After having that blindfold removed, there was no placing it back. Appalled at what I saw, my heart-strings chimed a melody and I found my voice. For all, no matter the differences because beneath our exterior we’re all just the same configuration of bones.
My best friend became my fiancé. He supports me as I speak for people - because we are all deserving of a happy, healthy and safe life. It’s no longer all about me.
I learned to love others.
Through my adventures into the realm of consciousness over ignorant bliss, I took a long moment to appreciate the beach by which I live and the nature reserve through which I run. It was always there and it was beautiful, but I never made the effort to pick up whatever litter I found. Fashion gave me the first insight, because once upon a time I’d thought to take my art and put it upon t-shirts. I fell into the rabbit hole of where the shirts would be made and what it took to make them - not just cost - and suddenly, I saw even more and another blindfold (I know, right? How many was I wearing?) came loose.
I began to research, because a bookworm at roots will forever be a bookworm, no matter what kind. I educated myself on deforestation, on endangered animals, on plastic contamination and fashion as a pollutant. The more I read, the further I delved. It was an addiction to knowledge; a thirst I could not quench - I needed to know. From all I learned, I redesigned my path and rather than creating new items began avidly supporting those who already made effort for ethical and sustainable.
My waste output shrinks every month, and my possessions minimise constantly. I went vegan, for my health, the environment and the animals (and the expense). I think about the bigger picture, and act for its best interest.
I learned to love the world in which I live.
When beginning my blog, the biggest hurdle I encountered was getting others to pay attention - not so I could become more popular, but so we as a collective could become more conscious. Well, actually, there were two and that was the second. The first was finding the courage to let all I’d discovered be made public rather than remaining bottled within my head. It’s a stressful thing to do when you’re hyper-aware and self-conscious about attention. It’s an odd position to sit; I want everybody to know the things I know, but not necessarily to know me.
I’m not seeking fame and glory, I’m not looking to capitalise for obscene personal profit, I’m not hunting for validation for my own existence. What I’m on a quest for is a way to do what I love for the rest of my life - and that’s take others on this journey with me to create a better place. I experience self-doubt almost every single day, and it’s a juggling act to take dreams and balance them with motivation and real action. But I realised just this morning that whatever I do, it all begins with me and if I’m not a beacon of love and light then nobody’s going to see Gondor calling for aid. I have to practice what I preach, y’know.
I’m on a search to find my authentic self and along with it, the complete confidence to let that self show. I’m still looking; she’s in fragments as we speak, like a half-finished jigsaw or mosaic mural that’s missing patches all over the place - but every little bit is progress.
I’m learning to love myself.
A need to create positive change is what fuels me now. A desire for the whole world and everyone in it to experience and radiate the same amount of love as I do. Ignorance is not bliss. On the contrary, kept me locked inside a metaphorical cell thinking nothing in life was worth it - when truthfully, everything in life is worth it.
To all those who might say, “But I have nothing to love...” I have news for you: you need to want it, then seek it. It doesn’t just fall onto your lap while you’re sitting there one day twiddling your thumbs as fast as you can. Believe me, I sat there doing nothing for many years of my life, wondering when things would change. It’s a switch of perspective, not witchcraft. I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter. Yeah, it’s definitely not witchcraft. It could be magic, though. I do believe in magic. I believe life itself is magical and it’s so rare and beautiful that we even exist.
Love is an unlimited resource and I believe we are all capable of giving and accepting it. While it may not be a solution to all problems, it gives us something worth fighting for.
So please, open your mind and open your heart (figuratively, of course).
From your extra-affectionate, best-wishing giant teddy-bear of a Wildflower,
I send you my love.