Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: If I Could Stop Time

If I had the ability to stop time I'd want to use it right now. I am 25 years old and live in Maputo, Mozambique. I have a challenging job that keeps me on my toes, but still enough free time that I can make art and dance in the living room whenever the mood strikes. I am working on my first novel. I meditate each morning with a cup of tea in hand and 2 kittens in my lap. I adore my family and have connected with amazing friends around the world. Perhaps most exciting, I am in love.

A year and a half ago I threw caution to the wind and decided to move from Austin to Africa. Within 24 hours of moving to Mozambique, I made a decision that had the potential to completely alter my experience here - either in a disastrous or absolutely wonderful way. When I wrote this 2 weeks after arriving in the country, I had no idea which way the scales would tip, but my intuition told me that I'd was on the right path.

Now don't get me wrong - it's not like I came to Africa and stumbled upon some sort of ready-made paradise. My experience in Mozambique has certainly involved a fair share of tears, professional crises, cynicism, days when I wanted to pull out my own hair or punch one of my housemates in the face, and homesickness so fierce it makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing here in the first place. But in the end I've gotten my lessons and despite the ups and downs, I am a resoundingly happy person and only see it getting better from here on out.

So if I only see things looking up, why do I want to stop time now?

Because I've been here before. I know what it feels like to think you've got your shit together, that you've paid your karmic dues, you've learned your lessons and now it's time to reap the benefits. I thought I had it all not too long ago - the relationship, the job, the opportunities - only to have everything crumble away from one day to the next. I know that life can throw you a curve ball so fast and unanticipated that it hits you in the stomach and takes your breath away. I am afraid this will happen again.

It's sobering to realize that even now, after all the work I've done on myself, there is still a part of me that doesn't believe that I deserve all the happiness in my life right now. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the inevitable tragic end to this story that quite honestly feels too good to be true sometimes. The perverse part of my mind invents scenarios about plane crashes, a dozen different terminal illnesses, a freak accident. I imagine how devastated I will feel when I receive the news that my relationship and wonderful life as I know it are over.

This is the same part of me that wants to stop time right here, now, on the brink of the amazing things in my life I know are waiting just around the corner. This voice comes from a place of fear. I am afraid that I will lose all of the people and things that make me so happy. I am afraid of the sadness and the void that will remain when it is all gone. I am afraid of the pain of picking myself off the floor again, wondering if I have it in me to start from zero all over again.

In the end I know that I can't hold onto anything forever. Impermanence is a scary thing, and it is even harder to accept when you know the pain of losing something or someone that close to your heart. But it remains that nothing is eternal. Sooner or later I will, in fact, lose it all - my family, my relationship, my art, my friends, my love. It will all go away. When I am able to accept the truth of impermanence, I realize that I don't really want to stop time now. I want it to go on for as long as possible, because the joy I feel right now is worth a thousand sorrows tomorrow.


--jenna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
--jenna said...

ah, i wanted to edit and add...not completely delete. i'm a mess at computers.

so i like your blog!!! and i've got this incredible desire to check out your perfect pink house the next time my boyfriend and i take a stroll up santa teresa..,:)

you have orkut too???

Alina said...

Impressive post, Ali! True, it is all meant to end one day, we can only enjoy it while it lasts. But sometimes stopping time for a while and enjoying your life carlessly doesn't sound half bad!

Jo Ann said...

It was supposed to be a happy post (I think), saying how happy you are are... but the thoughts it could end and you are almost expecting it at the corner, makes it really sad.
Says someone: "you'll solve the problem when there's a problem". Don't think it will end cause it may not ;) One thousand things may happen. But they can be the best too. :D

Love, J.

Ali la Loca said...

~Jenna - You should definitely check out the house next time you go to Santa. E-mail me and I'll let you know exactly where it is.

I do have orkut. It's crazy how many people I know from Brasil are on that thing. É uma praga!

Good luck with everything, I check your blog daily to see what is up in your life in Rio.

~Alina - I like to think of stopping time as really living in the moment, knowing all too well that yesterday has already gone and that tomorrow is not at all a guarantee. I'm trying to enjoy every second, sometimes it's hard to remember that I can't hold on to it all forever.

~jo ann - It did start out to be a happy post...I started out yesterday very happy, then out of nowhere burst into tears as I realized how afraid I was of losing all of these good things in my life. I'm even afraid to admit it because I'm one of those people that believes in the power of thought and self-fulfilling prophecies! But yes, I agree, solve the problems when they come. bjs!

Amber said...

Oh my Gosh, do I understand this! I really, really do. Part of me is ALWAYS waiting for the othe shoe to drop. Always. And when things seem "too good", for the world to blow apart. Wait until you have kids! Blah! It is even worse.*sigh* So I have to actively try to deal with these feelings on a day to day basis.


Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Very moving post. Accepting the fluctuations of life has always been difficult for me though I've gotten better as I've aged.

Kristine said...

This is a beautiful post. I struggle with waiting for the next shoe to drop too. Yet, at the same time, I have learned to celebrate each great day, each joyful circumstance and take a moment to savor it all.You are great and it sounds like you have a great view of how wonderful your life is and at the same time, how fragile and yet precious it is as well. That's remarkable.

Safiya said...

Life is indeed very transitory.

I know what you mean about when you'r so happy, you're waiting for it to end (I feel like that now). Living in the moment can be very hard.

Ali la Loca said...

~amber - I can only imagine what it's like once kids are in the picture. It's nice to know I'm not the only one that goes through these feelings.

~monkey - I've gotten better at dealing with these fluctuations with time, too. Don't think I was even aware of this stuff before having a solid crisis in my life.

~kristine - I do feel like I'm aware of that fine balance. It's hard not to want to cling to the present, though. The thought of impermanence is pretty scary.

~safiya - If I understand right, then the fact that you feel this way now means that you must also be very, very happy. :)


Safiya said...

You understood right :)

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

So beautifully written ... I love what you said about impermanence and learning to embrace what you have now while also taking the next steps and putting one foot in front of the other. (I started perusing your blog after your visit with Tara in Paris!)