I returned home from the United States Air Force Academy a broken, shell of a human being. For what had seemed like my entire life prior to leaving for college, I had been training, testing, practicing, schooling, earning an athletic scholarship, and gearing up for that challenge. That was before. Before my mind, my body, my spirit, was shattered into a zillion little pieces.
So when I returned home, my best friend at the time, a large, football-playing bodyguard of a boy, whom I trusted with my life, would come over and hold me, ground me, cover me. He would guard me. Every single night. Until I could find something else, something bigger than my fear, something more than just another day of PTSD, to live for. To work towards. To go after.
We all need something to look forward to. It is essential.
For, in the moment we declare what we want most, hope is born. It is not possible to go back. And though some people try to remain stagnant, that’s not possible either. We live in an ever-changing, constantly-moving, stream of consciousness, of life, of evolution. Our atoms move continuously, our cells follow suit, our bodies, our lives, our desires, they all move and morph and speed up and change and evolve.
I was watching my life pass me by. I had lost my vessel; it had run up on the rocks near shore. I was wrecked. In every sense of the word. Feeling the waves of life lap, smack, pummel me against the jagged stones.
And, instead of insisting on standing, digging my feet deep into the river bed to buck the current and try to stand still as the river raged and roared past me…I finally asked myself, why not let go? Why not listen to the motion of the current? Why not trust, that if it feels good, then the flow is taking me in the direction of my deepest desires. And if it feels bad, then I’ll tweak something, point my paddle at an angle, move my rudder off to the side, until it feels good again. Why not give in to the momentum, use it for exactly what the universe had offered it’s purpose to be, and allow it to help me, exponentially, reach my destination down stream; quicker, and with much more energy left in my tank.
And so I did. I let go. I picked a point downstream—deciding to re-apply to the University of Notre Dame just as I did out of high school—hoping to earn another spot in another incoming class, another spot on another NCAA Division I volleyball team. I trusted time to pass. I trusted that life would get better. I allowed the current to work for me, to take me toward a new day, a new life.
And it did.
Even now, when I find myself holding on too tightly, I remember to release my grip, and look up while I float. Look out at those around me. Look at life’s river bank as I go by, appreciative, that for evermore, I get another chance to enjoy the journey.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]