The Compass

life

“Are you heading in the right direction?” glared my cracked phone screen into the night.

Perched up a ledge, outside the local contemporary—a free gallery, filled with contemporary art—I drifted into the abyss of my mind. ‘Is my life going where I want it too?’ The proverbial gray blanket, which rested upon my consciousness, provides evidence for the answer to this question; no, I don’t feel like my life is going where I need it too.

Take me back in time, into my carefree youth in 2010 and a different picture may be painted: I was certain that my life compass was taking me to my calling. I’d just discovered my calling. Days were bright, nights were light and the perpetual vastness of the sky seemed to talk to my spirit; it gave me a reason to survive. Acting became the one thing which supported and still does support my existence. It was a time when the dark fog of anxiety hadn’t surrounded me and my faith in life was a dazzling white light which radiated from me, in everything I did. This became and still is my life; it’s in everything I do; its always there to remind me that I matter and have a purpose in this life. It tickles my heart.

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” 
― Dr. Seuss

I’d fallen deeply in love with my life and was finally happy with who I was and had found my place in this ambiguous thing we call life. I didn’t just exist; I lived. Just as I’d toppled over and fallen into an endless cavity of darkness, an extraordinary breath of life emerged and opened my lungs, for what seemed like the first time; it’s had placed my feet onto the ground so I could start running for a take off.

I remember slumping into a cold, plastic chair, one miserable Monday morning. I was twelve years old and still a year eight pupil in a pretentious British secondary school. Up until this point in my life, I can only ever remember existing; I didn’t know what it was like to live. Even though I’d always lived safely with a loving family, I hadn’t ever feel joy that felt genuine or experienced a moment of perpetual vastness. My form tutor’s lifeless voice rang through the fusty air. “A local drama school and agency are popping in for a…” I’ll never forget what that moment did to me. It was like a montage of images and feelings ambushed my mind and left within a split second; it just happened and nothing will ever be the same again.

Travel forward into the present day and there I was, sat on a cold stone block, outside a pompous art gallery, waiting for my grandparents—who have a confusing habit of pretending that we we’re a perfect family—to take me home after an exhausting day, finally finishing a performance exam, which had tirelessly dragged itself out for months. It must have been something about the holes in the night sky, where tiny, twinkling dots lay over the earth like a duvet over a child’s makeshift den or maybe it was the whooshing of the cars as the drove by combined with the ceaseless chatter over workaholics and drunken louts, but whatever it was, it pushed my into a bottomless chasm of thought. A volatile emotional state of mind is something I’d struggled with for three years and the light that shone within me—seemed dimmer than it’s usual fluorescence. I’d often feel overwhelmed with grief one moment and completely numb the next. I always felt clear in the city; they make me come alive. So in that moment of asking myself if the way I’m living my life is actually fulfilling me or not I became simultaneously clear and ambiguously unclear: Clear because the bright lights of the city filled my senses and unclear because I was presented with what seemed to be an absurdly obvious question in my most beloved environment. I rendered myself into a state of disbelief at my lack of realization. I had let fear take over my life; I’d let it become bigger than the faith which lives within me. ‘But how did the fear cause me to veer away from where my life is meant to take me. When I look back at how all the events in my life have transpired, it all makes sense; it all led to my passion for acting and how it excites me. If there is one thing I’ve realized about myself through this incredible journey of self-discovery, it’s that I crave action. If I don’t act upon my dreams I become restless, anxious and I start to purposely shift the control I have over my life onto someone or something else because not having acting in my life and not acting upon my dreams and deepest desires makes me feel as though I have no purpose in this life; I need this feeling—of perpetual vastness and the fulfillment of always having to work on something—to function in a way which means I’m living and not just a bag of skin, bones and blood with breath and the ability to speak. This is it.

So here I am, asking myself if I’m walking in the right direction and honestly, I’m not feeling as fulfilled at I did. I feel like a flower whats been crushed by the dirty, playful fingers of a child who remains unaware of the irreversible damage they’ve inflicted upon the flower and they’ve only just decided to release hold of the flower. I’m blooming again but not completely smooth because, unlike the flower, I can pick myself up, dust myself off and remove the blanket of numbness which has caused me to live in fear. I am stronger and have a more powerful heart than fear and no quantity of negativity can ever take that away from me.

It’s the darker eras of life which put the fact that the only life we have is the only we live in this very moment into perspective. It’s something human beings generally tend to forget. We have two choices: accept it or change it. You can take this course of action in one of two ways: in fear or faith. The belief that the future exists steals faith and poisons it; it creates fear because we convince ourselves that we have no control over the outcome of our lives; we tell ourselves that our despair isn’t our fault. If it isn’t your fault then whose fault is it? the outcome of our lives depends upon our reactions to our circumstance. So if the compass of your heart is pointing towards that audition or that road trip then follow it; don’t walk into the opposite direction because the destination your compass points to is blocked by a brick wall. Climb over the wall or break through it.

When we imagine our ideal life destination, our minds may take us to a place with freedom, sun and fresh air, immersing ourselves in the passions which drive us through life. We create an ideal and imagine it to exist among the vast blue sky or out in a continuum of nothingness. The thought which fails to present itself is the one which tells us the only happiness to ever exist is one which burns from within; the only true happiness seems to exist as an output of following your gut instinct. Follow the compass of your heart; it’s inconceivable where it may take you.

The sharp sound of a car horn rang as I turned my head to the road; my grandparents were slumped into their car seats. My legs carried me toward the car door and, in one swift movement, I was sat in the uncomfortable car  seat, drifting, once more, into thoughts of life, dreams and the city as the lights intruded the car through it’s windows. The lights continued shining as my eyelids drifted, closed.

Ellie x

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