A griffin is a mythical creature with the body and tail of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. In most mythologies in which the griffin appears, it is a figure that commands respect. Throw in some wisdom, strength, and resourcefulness and you have a powerful creature indeed.
Since my post, Resilience, in mid-September (of last year), I have been focusing on living in the moment. I discovered that when I became unhappy or depressed, it was usually when I wasn’t living in the moment. For the most part, I have been fairly successful. I can honestly say that incidents of depression have been greatly decreased.
On my milestone birthday, I treated myself to a couple of “birthday presents” and took myself out for dinner at a favourite Chinese place. Yes, I was celebrating on my own but I felt happy and proactive. However, a couple of days after the propitious event, it was an entirely different story.
I don’t make friends easily; I’m at an age where friends are disappearing for whatever reason (fathomable and unfathomable). But on my milestone birthday at the end of February, I did expect my family to step up. Yes, a phone call is great, as is an email message, but they do that every year (for which I am very grateful). When my family didn’t acknowledge this particular birthday in the way I felt it should have been, I felt marginalized in some mysterious way that I find impossible to put into words. I was living in the moment but with a vengeance!
Major fail of mindful living occurred. The combined residual effect of birthday and a sequence of events spiraled me into a string of consecutive depressive episodes, leaving me feeling defeated and invisible – until I read a post by a fellow creative Facebook-er, Corey Damen Jenkins. As he approached his 40th birthday, Corey reflected on the first three decades of his life. And even though we are a generation apart, his words resonated so clearly with me that I know they’ve healed a broken place or two and provided inspiration to continue my journey regardless.
*I’ve stayed in toxic relationships with people who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I’ve procrastinated in ending certain business relationships because I feared hurting the feelings of colleagues (who I mistakenly believed were friends). And then there were the family relatives and church members who tried using their religious beliefs to browbeat and intimidate me into submission. Years flew by, and I found myself staging my entire life around the opinions of others. This nearly drove me crazy.
I won’t lie to you: it’s been painful letting these relationships go. But the beautiful thing about getting older is that the longer you’re around, the clearer your perspective becomes. Life is like being a landlord: to keep your apartment building in good repair, you can only rent to high caliber tenants. Those who disrespect your property must be evicted. Only then can you make room for those who are deserving. No one has a “right” to be in your life if they are hell-bent on chipping away at your emotional enamel.
I’m emerging from a place of sustained heartbreak but it’s made me a better man. I thought I’d dread turning 40. But in this moment, my heart is brimming with excitement, joy and a surprising sense of calm. I’m entering this next chapter of my life as a single bachelor, but I’m not alone: I’m buoyed by my surrogate family. Later this week, I’ll be reunited with loved ones in New York. These friends consistently give me gravity. They’ve taught me to embrace my “gray areas”. They’ve convinced me that I’m “good enough” without all the overcompensation.
I can’t completely undo what’s been done in my past. But for the first time in my life, I’m finally at peace with my regrets. I’m perfectly imperfect. It’s going be OK
Now I keep reminding myself to visit those sacred places inside my heart where I know I am strong, wise, and resourceful – like a griffin.
*Quoted here with the author’s permission.