I died this morning. I’ve died every morning for the past few months. Call it a New Year’s Resolution. Call it a promise to myself. Call it whatever you like.
I honestly don’t know what to do with it, but nearly every morning for the past few months I have imagined myself standing over my own grave.
What started it all was this dream I had. I was outside a large house and was dared to go in. I don’t really remember what the house looked like now; I just remember it was big. It was dark in there too. I remember I wasn’t afraid to go into any of the rooms except for the basement. Now you might be thinking, “Well, of course! The basement is a frightening place anyway; anyone would be scared to go into a basement”. Normally I would agree with you, but I went anyway because dreams are weird that way. To get to the basement I had to get into an elevator and when I got there I didn’t want to get out of the elevator. I didn’t want out. I didn’t want out because while we think our basements are haunted mine actually was. I saw them. Ghosts flying everywhere! They weren’t just flying they were dipping and diving, juking and jiving - it was crazy! It was like I had stirred up a hornet’s nest and they were all gunning for me. While these spirit-ee looking things were flying around, I was doing my best just to stick to the inside of the elevator, spamming the door-close-button because they were coming and I wanted no part of it. I woke up sucking in air like I had just run a mile in a full sprint…
Remember, kids, this is only a dream.
I’m telling my therapist about this and when I got done telling this harrowing tale she calmly looked me straight in the face and simply asked: “What did they want?” UH…WHAT?! Her response: “Well how can you be afraid of something when you don’t know what it is or what it wants? You don’t know anything about it.” I was flabbergasted. Surprised, even. Why would I be the least bit interested in what these ghosts wanted? I assumed they wanted what most ghosts want and that’s to take my soul from me so I would be just as trapped as they were in this house. I was a little offended, but her next question cornered me. She asked: “Why are you being so resistant?” Secretly I knew there was something to the dream that needed me to pay attention. Considering where I am in life, it’s no coincidence I dreamt of ghosts, chaos, and a house. My therapist got this puzzled look on her face and I know that’s usually when we’re about to do an exercise that I’m not going to want to do. Long story short, I was going to have to revisit the house in session. So with some trust and some deep breaths we went in. My therapist encouraged me to take a step back and take myself back to that moment (while still fully awake) and walk out of that elevator and see what the heck these ghosts wanted. I didn’t get hypnotized or anything like that, I was fully awake…call it a daydream.
So I did.
It didn’t take long.
What I discovered was that all these ghosts were all of my own making. They were all my failures, all my fears, all my doubts, all my hesitations, all my second guesses, all the times I didn’t take a shot, all the times I sat on the bench, all the times I let “doormat” be my identity…. all of it. These ghosts were in the basement of my soul and some part of me wasn’t letting them rest. I think I knew that part of me existed, but I didn’t realize the effect it was having on me. I didn’t realize, truly realize, the effect I was having on myself. I was being haunted and the worst part about it is that I often convinced myself that I was past all that. I would tell people the same but there’s a reason I paralyze myself anytime I sit down to edit a video. I can get it ready but then I remind myself of all the times I fell short—
And I have the audacity to wonder why I’m haunted.
I left my therapy session with some encouragement, however. I imagined myself looking one of these ghosts in the face and having a chat. It wasn’t a frightening conversation or even a frightening experience. Oh I was being haunted, but I misunderstood what was actually taking place. This was of my own doing. These ghosts weren’t being put to rest because I wasn’t letting them. Things were getting buried but the spirit of those things weren’t resting in peace. Anytime I reminded myself of my failures I was desecrating my own grave and it was catching up to me.
Past triumphs and failures shouldn’t be forgotten. If we are to fail, then we should fail forward. In other words, let us fail in such a way that we learn something. Because when we do fail, there are plenty of pieces from the fallout that can become a mosaic of sorts to add to ourselves. Forgetting wasn’t my issue, it was reminding. It was failing to fail forward. What happens when we don’t fail forward? We fail and stay put. We fail and haunt ourselves with our failings and never let them go.
Ever since that realization I have held a funeral for myself every morning. It’s not a long one. No tears are shed. No eulogies are spoken; it’s just a quiet few seconds. I remain mindful of that which has made me into the person I am and the person I am becoming. I close my eyes, stand over my grave (maybe imagine myself putting some flowers down), and then I put on a hat and walk out the door. I don’t know if it has had any impact yet - some days I feel it, some days I don’t but I can tell you that, recently, I have been cognoscente of my own feelings and thoughts, and less of others (in the non-selfish kind of way). I still seek the wisdom of others but there’s something freeing when you become brave enough to give a crap about what you think and feel rather than what others think and feel. So I died this morning, but only to remind myself just how alive I am.