Be Brave

Shanna Murray, 2012

One of the terrifying things about life is the rhythm. How it seems to fall into moments of stasis, of paralysis.

For me the stasis has never really meant contentedness, or calm. It’s felt like dreaming of running, and knowing your legs won’t move. Of waking up flailing, only to realize no progress has been made. It is a paralysis built on fear of complacency, of settling. It is a fear built on not making something of my life.

For a long time I built my life on cause and effect. Tragedy and heartbreak were stepping stones, path marks on the trail to a person exponentially better than I was, am. When my father died, I built a world of purpose, of consequence, of destiny. My thirteen-year-old self argued, to make sense of the chaos, that this all happened for a reason. I struggled through this disaster because something better was coming. And the scales had to be set right again. I had to lose in order to gain.

Ten years later, I wrote in my mother’s eulogy,

I am not one who thinks that everything happens for a reason. I simply cannot… It is my belief, however, that we make the reason. We give meaning to disaster, we create ourselves in hardships, we decide what comes from death.

I have spent the last three years of my life attempting to make sense of tragedy. Of creating something out of chaos, of turning pain into something beautiful. I am a writer, I argue, because of my hardships. I cannot let disaster and heartache be meaningless, I have to prescribe it meaning. I cannot put it away, let the dust pile on it, let it be forgotten. I must make something of it. I must do it justice, put the cause and effect into the narrative, fill in the backstory of my main character, grow her into something you deem real.

I am still in stasis. I am terrified of standing on the cavern of the world and looking down to my dirty feet and seeing the nothingness below them. I worry that I will never tear through the cellophane emotions, never find the effect in the rhythm, never feel the release of the constant inhale. I wonder if the prescribed meaning is too literal, too neatly packaged. I look again at the accidental structures built after the collapses and wonder if they are just as detrimental, just as false.

I pray for the exhale. I pray for the day when paralysis breaks, like ice melting, and I shake off the past selves like spring shakes off winter. I pray for the release, the meaning, the clarity.

Until then, I continue through the chaos. And I am brave.



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