Sunday, April 27, 2014

Five-year cycles

I've discovered something recently, my life runs in five-year cycles. It's a pattern. Every five years, something earth-stopping happens and it changes my entire mindset, plan and direction. It's not a subtle change, it's a drastic makeover.

Almost without fail, the last ten years have been anything but conventional, to say the least.

I'm not too sure if it's been happening all my life, I can certainly not remember what happened to me when I was five or ten, and for that matter, I'm not too sure if 'it' happens in even or odd numbers. My cycle might've started when I was three or twelve for all I know.

All I do know, is that from 2002, my life turned upside down. My 'plan' was destroyed completely. I was finishing my Bachelors degree, and going to get married. Music was a small part of my life and I had no idea how to make a career out of it, especially in a foreign land. But, in April that year, I discovered my fiance was having an affair. Within two weeks, I applied to migrate to Canada, I just had to get out of Trinidad, I couldn't stand to be here. The following year, I left for Toronto.

In 2008, I decided to teach guitar full-time and travel more as a musician. Over the next five years I would spend time travelling between Canada, Trinidad, Europe and America. It was scary at first but this apparent 'unstable' career (labelled by some friends and family) became my life. I felt like a bit of a nomad, but I got accustomed to it.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with cancer and in an instant, my life's plan was stolen, and replaced with a new one.

Now, five months after surgery. I have changed my diet, I am getting regular check-ups. I'm trying to be more aggressive than my cancer 'friend' living in my body. I am still teaching guitar, but I almost feel as if I could be doing something else musically. I'm in a strange place, trying to figure out what's coming next. A summer tour is planned with KOBO TOWN, I'm gigging with a theatre group and I just sat my DipABRSM exam, so life is still moving along, in-spite of everything.

But one thing is sure, the winds of change are in the air. And I have decided to follow the wind rather than resist it. Change is hard, it's even harder when it's being made for you, then you almost have no choice but to follow through.

I saw a former lecturer of mine the other day, he told me ''In everything, put God first, talk to him constantly'. Then he said 'Forest Gump was right, life is really a box of chocolates'.

So, I'm in the next five-year phase of my life, by my calculations my next big shift will be 2018.

Unless, of course my cycle changes to a three or four-year pattern, then I'm really screwed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

You can never go back

We all have this habit of looking back at the past and wishing we were still there. Funny thing is, we were probably not fully enjoying that moment anyway when it was happening back then. It's only appreciated when it's gone and some worse experience comes along, so in it's relative state, the past was great only when compared to the present.

It's like when we leave a place - home, for example, and dream of coming back one day, only to realize that it will never be the same. It might look the same and certain aspects of it may well be exactly as before, but it's not.

Things have changed, you've changed. Home, then outside and now you're between two worlds, with a different view.

It messes up your head, this double-sided view. You're not too sure which one is real, the old picture you had in your head, or this new reality of what once was, now all but lost to the idolized memories in your head and heart.

Your friends change, they move on with their lives, you move on, you all grow apart, you meet new friends, you change career paths, you don't see much people anymore, you stay indoors pretty often, just writing and practicing your craft. And suddenly, you look back on the last ten years of your life and wonder how many lifetimes are you living - one or three?

Perhaps it's all the travelling? It's a time-zone thing. While you're outside people at home have no real clue what you're doing. And when you're home, the outside world carries on just fine without you. You straddle two-worlds and live three places - here, there and on a plane.

You yearn for stability, but miss the fun of the road. You suffer withdrawal syndrome and homesickness, all in the same week. The old stable, 'safe' life seems like twenty years ago. Friends admire the freedom and risks but would never do anything so crazy with their lives - forego safety to pursue a dream that is not secure nor financially viable.

Your father tells you that you have to stick to the path you're on, too late to turn back now. The new you was born out of a love tragedy, you don't even recognize your former self. You wonder how differently your life turned out from what you had initially planned. But in all objectivity, it's pretty darn nifty, albeit a bit scary.

The new you loses heart sometimes and lives in constant fear of being a failure and dying alone.

But it's too late to hit reverse.

You can in fact, never turn back. This is a one-way fare your purchased and your ticket in non-refundable. The old life has disappeared and along with it, the old job, the old safety net, and a life of predictability.

Anything can go wrong at anytime and you have no control of what comes your way, only the response given.

The slate is almost wiped clean again and the road is pretty much open.

Where you go next, it totally up to you.

How scary indeed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life changes in a blink

I read somewhere that 'Life is what happens when you're busy making plans', but then again, nothing can happen unless you have a plan of action to begin with.

It's a bit of a contradiction really. Focused, new-age individuals will tell you that a proper plan and positive thinking will help put things in priority and then, almost like magic, good things will come your way, you will 'attract' everything you need for yourself and you will live happily ever after.

Like magic. Poof!

I'm not too sure if I ever believed in that, the whole law of attraction thing. Maybe I'm a bit of a pessimist, but I just honestly thought that hard work was the key, then the good opportunities will come your way when the time is right, when you've earned it, and you could make the most of it.

I honestly thought the messy part of life, that part could be avoided, once I had a good idea how to manoeuvre around the mess. My plan you see, was preparation.

But I was wrong, because in the midst of making plans for my life, I got sick.

And just like that, all my plans were thrown out the window of my life.

In the aftermath of my cancer surgery, my mom started getting sick. And now, in a matter of months, my life has changed almost completely. What I once knew is no more, I'm not sure if it will ever come back - my old life, the way it was, it disappeared from me like a thief in the night.

One day I was fine, next day I had cancer. One day my mom was healthy, next day she was in chronic pain.

All I can do now, is hold on to what was there before and pretend to carry on as if nothing happened. Pretend to live my life as normal as can be.

Everything is just a passing phase, that I know. But I'm not particularly fond of this phase of my life. Without warning it came. It landed on me while I was minding my own business. Without regard, respect or kindness.

That's life I guess, take the good with the bad. Turn lemons into lemonade.

To say that it is a stressful time is an understatement.

But one thing's for certain, my life changed for the worse. At least for now.

I am trying to find the reason for all this, the silver lining, the lesson that life is trying to teach me, but I just simply cannot.

This is the part of life I wish I could get a refund on, or an exchange voucher or something. If this part of my life was a movie, I would fast-foward to the good part, just to see how it would eventually make sense.

For now, it doesn't make any sense at all.

Now, all I can see are the aftershocks from the earthquake that stole my old life.

And it changed in a blink.