Beach Happiness

Last year, on a particularly hard day, I spoke on the phone with my friend, Beatrice, about why we were both so depressed. We had many reasons, and this led us to a discussion about the different types of sadness. The list covers a lot of ground, including: hypothetical sadness, death sadness, projecting sadness, jealousy sadness, bittersweet sadness, extreme weather sadness… we ended up listing about 75 types.

 

After half an hour of compiling this list, I forced her to help me come up with the different types of happiness. Surprisingly, we found this extremely difficult. When we challenged ourselves to think of the bad it poured out of us as though we’d been mentally preparing our whole lives for the moment we’d need to recount it. But the good? It was slow to come to mind. Over the course of a few days, with the help of a couple more friends, we eventually had a list consisting of around 50 types of happiness.

 

One of these types is beach happiness. Neither Beatrice nor I thought of it initially, but it rings true for all of my peers and I. When I’m on the beach I just feel… peaceful, I suppose. The sound of the waves replaces the sound of worry in my mind.

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I stand on the beach looking out at the sea and marvel at how tiny I am compared to it all. If my life is so small compared to the world, then the problems in my life amount to nearly nothing. I’m never one to belittle my own suffering or the hefty challenges I face every day, but during certain rare moments I truly believe they aren’t all that important. The beach supplies the majority of these moments.

 

Yesterday was an odd summer day in the middle of February so I flocked to the beach with my friend and her boyfriend. The water was freezing but I almost prefer feeling numb to feeling my normal pain. The smell of the water and the sunscreen smeared on my (pathetically) sensitive skin remind me of summers past, in just the way that bug spray reminds me of hiking trails around my childhood hometown.

 

My mom reminded me that one year I had a birthday party at the beach and that I hated it. I remember the reasons for this being that sand got on my birthday cake and watermelon, that we never had time for the dance party or limbo (I’ve always been quite the planner), and that a boy from my class (who was not invited) saw me in my bathing suit (mortification. I hate you, Speedo.)

 

My mother remembered the reason being that I got salt water in my eye and that at that exact moment the love affair between the sea and I became a tale of regret and disappointment.

 

Safe to say the discord has dissipated, and I have kept a special place in my heart for the beach throughout it all. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m forced to miss out on fun – a seemingly harmless substance the majority of young adults seek and occasionally experience. I’m more of an 80-year-old stuck in an 18-year-old’s body type, and I have to “take care of my health”. Which means I often need to miss out on all sorts of experiences because fun has a clear consequence for me – pain. Pain leads to sadness, but mainly, pain leads to more pain. More pain leads to trouble sleeping, which leads to extra fatigue, which leads to extra pain, which leads to even more trouble sleeping… it’s only one of the viscous cycles that people with chronic illnesses need to live with.

 

But just because I have less fun doesn’t mean I have to be less happy. This year I’ve been privy to a few types of happiness that weren’t on my list before: proving myself happiness, spreading joy happiness, professional growth happiness and above all – somehow, it will all be okay happiness.

 

At the very least, that’s how I feel after I go to the beach.

 

Love,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Take me back to the basics and the simple life, tell me all of the things that make you feel at ease. –Ease, Troye Sivan

 

Have a suggestion to add to my lists? Share in the comments below please!

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The Faux First Day Anecdote

 

I like first days because of how much I dislike them. I feel so nervous that my whole body feels shaky, my heart pounds so quickly and I pee about ten times a minute. I spend so much time thinking over every situation I could possibly encounter and yet I’m always taken by surprise. I love it because I love things that make me feel alive, and first days do that.

 

Exposition.

 

Today I woke up early (from nerves) and put on the outfit I bought specifically for this momentous event (because it’s important to feel confident and cool). I scrambled and I rushed but took the time to make sure I felt ready for this course I’ve been waiting to start for months. I had to park further than I intended, so I ended up power walking, taking the quickest detour possible to use the bathroom (duh).

 

Finally I walked up to the big glass doors (that I vaguely remembered are usually open…) and pushed. And they didn’t budge. So I peered inside. And it was empty. So I looked around myself. And there was no one else there.

 

Plot complication.

 

A guy approached me and asked if I was also there for the course, and as it would turn out we were the only two who had shown up. As we eventually found out, the course doesn’t start for another few days, and we were given the wrong date.

 

Anticlimax.

 

If life were a rom-com the two of us would go grab a cup of coffee, flirt in sepia lighting and fall in love, and oh-isn’t-fate-funny?! But in actuality I said the first thing on my mind: “Just so you know I’m going to be wearing this outfit again next time.” I think he nodded, but I’m not really sure, it’s all a bit fuzzy now.

 

Chapter 2?

 

~~~

 

Ella

 

Song Quote:

 

If we’re strong enough to let it in we’re strong enough to let it go. –Let It All Go, Rhodes and Birdy

 

February 20th update:

Funnily enough, I did end up liking this guy. He was very sweet and friendly, but he smoked and that’s a deal breaker for me. I simply noted from afar whenever he did something thoughtful and made my peace with it, until I found out he doesn’t smoke after all! He simply loved being in the sun during our breaks and went out with the group that smoked. I promptly got my hopes up. Two seconds after I found out he doesn’t smoke, I also found out he’s engaged. So that’s that.

I’m Going Home

 

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Not my window, but a dreamy window indeed

 

I can totally do this.

The past few days have been filled with pain and the past few nights have been filled with consciousness. I am tired and tired of studying. I am sick and suffering, but I can do this.

Two tests left. My window is open to let the cold, crisp air in and onto my face, and every now and then I remember to breathe. I have a playlist of Coldplay, Maroon 5 and Beyoncé to keep me from getting too bored of my material, and a yellow highlighter that matches my dried mango (god’s gift to man).

A classic study set-up.

Not only am I motivated and uplifted by the light I can glimpse at the end of the tunnel, but I now have something to look forward to: I’m going home. I moved away from my hometown when I was 7, and in many ways where I live now is a larger part of my identity. It’s where my family is, where most of my friends are, my school, and my past ten years of life. This culture now feels as much an inseparable part of my identity as the culture of my early childhood.

But still, the thought of going back for a visit makes the words “I’m going home!” shout in my mind, bang around and jump up and down (primarily as I try to study). For once I have something to look forward to, and by golly, is it uplifting.

I just feel like I can do this, I can make it through these tests and then go home. The first time I went back to visit was many years after we moved away, and at the sight of my neighborhood I began to cry in the back of the cab. Those tears were because I missed it all and I wished we’d never moved. The tears I’m sure will come this time will not be the same. I’m no longer a 7-year-old girl. In a few months time I will turn 18 and I will need to accept that the fibromyalgia will become a part of my adult life too.

This time I will cry because I really need a break from the reality of my life that is so often sad and frustrating.

This time I will cry tears of joy, because despite it all I love the person I have become and I know I would not be the same if we had never moved away.

This time I will cry, and then leave the tears aside and focus on being where I am. The Dalai Lama said that there are only two days that do not exist: yesterday and tomorrow. In my life, my yesterdays always carry over to my todays (in the form of a headache) and I can’t help but worry about all of my tomorrows.

This time I will cry.

Yours,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Millions of miles from home in the swirling, swimming on, when I’m rolling with the thunder, but bleed from thorns, leave a light, leave a light on. –Midnight, Coldplay

 

Stay tuned for part 2! I plan to write all about my trip.

Part 1: I’m Going Home

Part 2: I’m Home!

The True Reason You Should Be Kind

How cool is the world? I mean, seriously, how cool is it? Because I think it’s pretty freaking cool. There are just so many people. Every single one of them has a name, has thoughts, feelings, and a story. Then I think of how many people have lived since ever, how many nights have been slept through and how many sunrises watched. How many breaths have been breathed!!! The average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day, and there are about 7.2 billion people alive today. And that’s just one single day…

I am the only person who will ever be me, and there is so much to me. That means that… it’s just… wow. I can’t wrap my mind around the vastness of it all.

I think these thoughts more often than is probably normal (we’re talking at least once a day, usually more), but especially prompted by two things: good news and bad news.

The good news is when I’m uplifted, when I realize how awesome and incredible the world is (in other words, a Big Thinking Moment). Things like the “Project for Awesome” remind me how many people have good values and are creative and inspiring. Music and books and movies remind me that I am not alone. Nature brings me back to earth (literally), and it’s when I feel peaceful and whole that I value the beauty of our surroundings and remember to stay connected to it. My family and friends remind me how lucky I am to have them. Or all of these at the same time.

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Had quite the onslaught of Big Thinking Moments as I stood staring at this and wondering how the colors could possibly be natural. I didn’t edit this picture at all — it was real life, in all it’s glory.

The bad news is when I hear about suffering. War makes me sad, and I become sadder when I realize that if we haven’t yet found a way to eradicate it, we are not as developed as we think we are. My hopelessness strips away the beauty I previously saw. Racism, cruelty, prejudice, hate, torture, rape, murder… I lose my faith in humanity, if only for a few moments. This is when I realize that if there are so many people in the world and we each experience hardships, there’s a sh*t-load of hardship going around.

The bad news is also what leads to me keeping things in perspective and not taking anything for granted. So on the personal scale I suppose you could say I find a way to make something positive of it, but in reality it just sucks and I hate the world sometimes.

I would say I range from being realistic and practical to being truly optimistic, and this is what keeps me going. My ability to find good and change the way I look at situations is something I have worked to cultivate and plan to fall back on throughout life.

So the way I approach the bad news? I try to be nice. Because yes, there are those with a vision who can change the world, and yes, I could set myself the goal of being one of those people, but that isn’t me (at least not yet). What I can do now is see people. I can notice when they’re having a hard time and need a kind word or gesture. I can tell when they need to be recognized for their personal successes and their abilities, and I try to do that for them. I also just say “hi” and ask how they are because I genuinely want to know. The ways are endless…

This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. This doesn’t mean I’m a good person. What this means is that I’m trying. That is all that can be asked of a person, and that is what I ask of you: please, try to be nice to all of those around you. Small gestures can make such a difference to people, and I’m not going to get all cliché and say that together we can change the world, but together we can make someone happy. Maybe that’s enough.

In the words of the great Ellen Degeneres, be kind to one another. Bye-bye.

Ella

Song Quote:

So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain. -Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd