I am pleased, and challenged, by the fact that after 31 years wandering around this lovely planet I can still surprise myself both in positive and negative ways. At least that means I'm not bored, right?
I'd still kind of like to kick sand at Saturn, though.
Never let yourself get too comfortable with life. That's important. The minute you start to become complacent, life will throw you something--maybe something new, maybe something you thought you'd handled years ago. It may be that the gods were waiting to hand you something until you were strong enough to face it. Perhaps some part of your past is still lurking under your skin waiting until you've been through X, Y, and Z to pave the way back to A.
The important thing is to take life as it comes--cliche, yes, but still true. I've been working on cultivating emotional detachment; this isn't the same as not feeling anything. I call it invoking your soul's Witness.
The Witness is able to look at your emotions and say, "Well, okay, here's A again. I guess it isn't gone. But that's all right." The Witness's slogan is "keep calm and carry on." When an emotion--especially a negative one whose source you're not sure of--arises, if you can stop and breathe and call upon the Witness, she can help you decide how to act, instead of simply reacting. The Witness knows and understands all your issues, even the ones your conscious mind has no idea how to name. The Witness has been watching your entire life; she's the part of you that is connected to your larger purpose even when you can't see it because of the fog bank of all those poisonous thoughts and litanies of self-condemnation. She is the part of you that is mindful.
Of course, as important as mindfulness is, it doesn't do you much good unless you can partner it with compassion and patience. As it turns out there's no statute of limitations on recovery. Old sorrows can arise when you least expect them, and it doesn't mean you're weak or that you need to "get over it." In my experience there really is no "getting over it," there's learning to live with it, and growing beyond it. But pain and trauma don't ever leave you. And you know what? That's okay.
My parents had a hackberry tree that overhung the telephone lines for years. They had the limbs cut back repeatedly, but the tree was tenacious, and eventually when it had to be cut down they saw that one of the limbs had actually grown around the telephone wire, enveloping it completely and then growing on its way as if the wire was just a part of it. I think that's how painful experiences are--we grow around them, and beyond them, but they never really leave us. We take what came from that grief and learn from it, make it a part of us. The choice we are left with is, will that experience make us stronger, or hinder us? A tree isn't about to let something as silly as human artifice get in its way. A tree will grow through concrete, around fence lines, up through the floor. It takes time and patience, but given light, food, and air, a tree can grow through just about anything.
Healing is a process and I don't think it's ever over. The effects of illness and disease can be felt years and years after remission--if for no other reason, than you had to adjust your way of thinking to say "I survived this," and it becomes a part of your identity. But the amazing thing is that you can choose to rename and reframe it, to go from "victim" to "survivor" in your own way and your own time. Don't ever let anyone tell you it's been long enough. No one gets to decide that but you.
Perhaps the best way to think of the Witness aspect of your mind is as your inner tree. It listens, it watches, it bends with the wind instead of resisting. It can grow through and around and takes all the time it needs to do what it's here to do.
May we sway like the trees, bearing witness to our own continual unfolding.