Life is a narrative, and in each of our lives many stories are unfolding. While some of these stories – graduating from college, starting a career, getting married, becoming a parent – operate at the scale of the whole life and are the kinds of things we casually refer to as a “life,” many other stories are less momentous and take less time to tell. These smaller stories do not create whole life events, but they are the stories that weave and connect life’s moments and give shape and texture to the larger events of which they are a part. We live in the details of our lives, and it is these small stories that we live and grow; it is through these stories that we learn about others and share ourselves. Many stories happen in just a moment; some unremarkable, some that may affect the balance of a day. The lens is always the same: how do previous experiences shape who we have become? 

You do not ask to be brought into this life. The very idea of coming into this world is, to me, one of the miracles least spoken of. You get here and like all new things, there is some getting used to. There’s not time to explain things so you hit the ground growing. Day by day, there is something new to realize about you but not by you because you are still getting the hang of mother Earth. You form and learn and stretch then walk and run then talk and imitate or mock. Our lives start with the most irreversible of all changes. You can never go back from whence you came. It’s beautiful but it’s also scary. Maybe what makes it work is that we have no control over it. Some things in life would go better if you did not have hands access to the on-off switch. Wouldn’t you agree? 

You head out one day and are dumped in a sea of others like you. Humans you have never heard of and did not ask for. It is noisy and loud. They do the things you do but you don’t think they do them just as well as you. They cry but not the way you cry. Their crying makes you want to cry because they do it badly and you feel you should show them how so you cry too – the battle of the criers. Days, months and years lead no more crying (at least not as voluntarily and competitively). 

The emotions you now embody are fully in your control, or so you think. I skipped something. You went on to study things you never asked for and did not know you did not know and did not want to know but you ought to know, as judged by your parents, guardians, teachers et cetera. You excel in some, terribly fail in others, barely get by in others still and totally give up on the rest. If all you have known is Uganda, why learn French? That’s like learning to paint when you live in a bush or taking dance lessons in a time of war – gun and rocket sounds aren’t that soothing and they don’t rhyme that well. You have now made friends and lost some and replaced them (you would not say it like that because you don’t want your inner self to call you out for the two-faced person you are or the jerk you are turning out to be but you know the truth.) See, up until a certain point, you did not know the battle between good and evil exists within you. The last battle you barely remember is the one with high-pitched little humans thirsty for human attention. You are starting to wrestle against flesh and blood. There are little messengers within you changing how to feel each day and making you see people different. 

You realize quickly that you are not as strong as you thought you were. Why do we gravitate towards the things we try so hard to avoid? Is it because while we try so hard to avoid them, we entertain so many thoughts about these things for so long a time that we end up attracting them? Think on that. You cannot explain how you, with everything within you, tried to avoid those repulsive and gross things called relationships and still ended up in one. The boy-meets-girl pandemic! Everyone is doing it and you find it so cringe. You want to be the outlier. You’ve always embraced difference or maybe you just did not understand much and did not want to do things without clarity. Well, it’s here and you are in it and all the feelings you did not know you had have risen to the surface. You are a mess. You think you are a ‘tidy’ mess, it looks beautiful in your mind and heart that it seems perfect. The word perfect did not exist for you because you always saw the world through broken and stained glass until now. You never imagine that the day would come when you will wake up thinking of someone and go to bed thinking of the same person. How did they gain so much real estate in your life? You hate it but love it even more. And now you are a glass half-full type of person – boring (you once thought) but now, revolutionary. You tell yourself how one must allow themselves to see things differently. 

How is this for different? While you are still schmoozing with your boo or pookie (as Gen Z would say – slang be damned!!), the walls come crushing down. Imagine air leaving your lungs. Dare to see the world, as you know it, folded like paper. Can you see, with your mind’s eye, night coming at midday? Has the ground beneath you ever started to part and under your feet, between your legs lies a vortex into which you are being sucked with so much suction power that you can’t resist? The heart, as important as it and we all know it, can be ripped out of your chest. That’s how it is when the person you altered your world for and tilted your personal tenets and maxims for breaks your heart. You think it matters how it happened or what they did in that moment but does it? All you want is your person. Your bae. Your heartbeat. Your pookie (pukes). But you cannot have them back. They left with no so much as goodbye. Unbeknownst to them is that they did not just break up with you, they broke you. They did not only leave, they took parts of another person that no one should have and there are no spares. What are you do with a fragmented and hollow body and frame? All for love. Love, not for all. 

You cannot go back because you have since forgotten where you left and what it felt and seemed like. You are lost in a sea of feelings you do not know what to do with. Rage mixed in almost equal measure with longing. You think of all the things you would do to them if you ever lay hold of them again and then they are canceled by all things you would feel in the same moment and what that would do to you. Better to have loved than not loved at all, huh? “Better to not have lived!!” you think. 

The go-getter in you won’t rest. You have bigger and better things to do. When one door closes, a bigger one opens. You are what they call a career-person. You like things where you depend on nobody but God and yourself. Forever etched in your mind is what happened the last time you let yourself trust a homo sapien. Hell will freeze over before you do it again. Work is thriving and so are you. You create your own noise and calm. Your family is your circle of love. Who you call family is huge, it is blood and red wine because that’s what your friendships, at this point, have become – they’ve aged well and you are happy they have. They are the ones that stuck by you when, for a moment, your life paused. They hit play and your insides spun again. If you were to get married, you’d marry them – a dare to be polyamative. 

Pain has a gradient. When first you felt it, it seemed like you died. When next you do, you know you lived but only to die again. And nothing breaks a person like the death of a loved on. Life can be troubling at different points that one wishes they weren’t born if it was all to suffer but a loved one’s passing makes one wish one could climb up to heavens and yank their souls back with your bare hands. You are gutted. You will wish death on yourself for no other reason than to just spend a little more time with the one you love. Your world will darken at the time when the sun shines brightest. Loss does things that only it can – it breaks the lid off of bottled tears and re-opens scars on your soul. You can never be the same. Time does not heal some wounds, it teaches you how to live with them. 

When we are born, we have no choice in it. How we live is a result of the choices we make. We are handed a life we did not ask for and judged for how we lived it. Whatever you do, find a place and build your home. Let it be your sanctuary. Your safe haven. A place where your tears and stories are sealed in its walls and paint. It is where you walk a thousand miles when in doubt or preparing for the presentation of your life. It is where you get naked and also clothe yourself in the finest linen. Your heart is safe there. The world could run amok all around you but don’t carry that home. Home is where or who you go to then close out of the world. When all of it tries to change you, let home center you. Go home.