A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
The Farwell Boys 2015, Toby, Rick, Lucas, Forrest, Donovan
(aka my four brothers and my late grandfather (Pappy-Rick)
The thing I value most in life is contentment. Now, contentment can be different things to every person. For me, contentment is the balance of joy and work.
To work, for me, means to put the talents and intuition I was born with combined with the skills I have learned and will learn over the course of my lifetime in good effect. So far this has expressed itself through creative practices such as writing, painting, sculpture, performance, music, installation, tutoring, sailing instruction, cooking, crocheting, knitting, design, and so much more I have done and have yet to do. These are the things I do that I feel satisfaction for completing a job well done; thinking creatively and using my skill set to solve problems and accomplish goals I continuously set for myself. There is nothing quite like putting all of your energy and effort in completing something where the reward is simply completion. You did it. I did it. We did it together. Working tirelessly to finish a project that was simultaneously back and mind breaking to the point where I am physically and mentally exhausting is one of the greatest rewards.
To find and experience joy means to feel true happiness while also feeling and understanding deep sorrow. For me the immediate example of this comes within my family and relationships. The last three years have been very trying for my family as well as for my friendships. I moved two states away from the people I loved in hope of freeing myself to look deeper within and grow as my own human being. It is difficult to be alone, but it is also easy to find friends, however temporary or permanent, along the way to teach you about the world and about yourself. During this time it seems that every autumn brings about another dark, trying period to learn from.
First, my parents separated, completely changing the structure of our family. My world was immediately expanded to what it is to have a relationship with another human being and what it is that I value in relationships. Relationships are both dynamic and static, like any written character. Some relationships consist solely of nice smiles and "how are you's?" while others are so deep that words need not be said. I have accepted this, and I know deep down that each person I know will help me grow no matter how small that growth is.
Second, my grandfather committed suicide. Next week marks the one year anniversary of this incident. I cannot express enough how heartbreaking and natural the experience of this is. My Pappy chose to take his own life by walking into the woods and shooting himself in the head with a handgun he had bought a couple years previously for that very purpose. The issue was that he was reported missing and it took two weeks to find his body; because he was a bit of an asshole (a very loved and adored asshole) and had to go out on his own terms. For several weeks over the holidays I was surrounded by friends and family full of sorrow, tears, condolences, support, cheering up, laughter, and joy. I had never cried, or laughed, so hard, ever. We were there supporting each other through the bad times while simultaneously making good times and good memories. That experience is one I treasure and look forward to as my life progresses. Relationships are not only the good times, but supporting each other in the bad times as well.
Third, a dear friend, my uncle of sorts, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and given a couple months to live. Now, the last time I say him was May 2016, in NYC. From what I hear he has never been more full of gratitude and love than he has been these last few weeks. This one is a particularly interesting challenge for me as I have not spoken to him directly since this new ‘life-changing’ event. I have, however, spoken with my family about this over the phone (I haven’t seen them in person in almost six months), but to hear your family distraught and in tears over the phone and the only way to give them any comfort is an "I love you" and tears of your own is very trying. All I want when I think about it is to be there physically as well as mentally to give my love and support to them and to our friend-who is by extension our family. How can you be involved in someone’s life when you live different lives in different places? You try. You put effort in, and work towards being involved in their day-to-day life once more. Yes, you find new loved one’s in your daily life, but you can never let go of someone you have loved; They are imprinted on your heart eternally.
Until I had begun experiencing these things, as an adult, I did not understand the concept of joy. Now I do. Joy means that even though every living being in the world is struggling through hardships there is still laughter to be found, there is still work to be done, there is still love to be given, there is always pain to feel, and there is always happiness to be found. Hope is finding a smile in a pile of shit.
What do you value most?