We’ve been through a lot together these last few months, haven’t we? In fact, it wasn’t long after I started this column that we entered quarantine.
Each week, I’ve looked forward to connecting with you all. Under the phenomenal leadership of Nancy Stephens, Main Street Fairview has provided coverage of what’s going on in the world while never losing sight of the heart of this town.
That’s my favorite part about this paper. It is the heart of this community. Week after week, we have powered through these difficult times together and I’m so thankful for the moments you’ve let me into your lives and mailboxes, readers. However, it is time that my journey as a columnist with Main Street Fairview to come to an end as my publishing journey begins.
This has been a challenging year for us all and I’ve been no different. In addition to the changes COVID-19 has presented, illness has hit our family. Times like these often become times of reflection. However, for me, they’ve also been a shake up. A hard reset. It’s served as a difficult reminder as to how quickly things can change and how short life is.
Times like this force us to hold up a mirror and ask ourselves if we are living the lives we want to be living. What I realized was that I was a motivational writer encouraging people to seize the day, to live their dreams, but I wasn’t taking my own advice. Yet, the time was ticking by and I watched it go as though it were infinite.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an author. That calling has been in my blood since before I knew what a calling was. But, my friends, fear is a strong adversary. For years, I put off writing a book, because who would read it? What stories did I have to tell the world? What if I wasn’t good enough?
Finally, I set out to write my first book. What started off as a passion project quickly became the way I coped with this new world in which I found myself. Then, it became more than that. What started as an idea for one book became five. What started as a blank page became 92,000 words of a story that has been edited within an inch of its life. What started as a dream is now a reality as my first book, Home Is Where You Are, gets published this fall.
While I’ve been working on this project, my family has been adapting to a new normal. The kind of normal that’s forced upon you when life deals you a bad hand. It’s hard to see the people we love hurting and in a world where everything already feels upside down, it makes life feel especially heavy. My friends, I know many of you have felt this heaviness this year. I know you have felt the heartbreaks and the growing pains, too. So, for my last column, I want to leave you with the best advice I’ve ever been given.
Many of you may have heard of Glennon Doyle. She’s an author and motivational speaker, though neither of those titles fully encompass her brilliance. During a recent exchange on social media, when it felt like the weight of this world may crush me, she reached out to me. Are you ready? Because this is a doozy.
She said, “Being human isn’t about feeling happy. It’s about feeling everything. Feel it all. We can do hard things.” We spend our lives chasing happiness, forgetting that it's like every other feeling. It’s fleeting. It’s unreliable.
You know what is reliable? Life. It will show up and kick our butts every single day whether we show up or not. We can run from the ugly, the awful, the painful all we want, but it will still catch us. We can try to avoid it and we can chase that happiness until the soles of our shoes wear out, but life will still catch us.
Maybe we’ve been looking at it all wrong. Maybe we stop chasing happiness and start feeling everything. Maybe we stop avoiding the pain and swan dive right in because we can do hard things. We can do impossible things. Humans prove that every day.
You do that every single day. Think about all the moments that have knocked the wind out of you. The ones where you thought to yourself, ‘I will never survive this.’ But somehow you did, because you are a miracle. It’s easy to forget that when we get so busy chasing happiness.The fact that you’re here, that I’m here, that we are all here is nothing short of miraculous.
Glennon also left me with one last reminder that reduces life to its simplest, purest form. And it’s what I will leave you with as I bring this last column to an end. “We are all just walking each other home.” That’s it. It really is that simple. None of us are getting out of this life alive. Some of our journeys will end sooner than others and all we can do is hold each other’s hands and feel it. We’re all just on the long walk home - together.
About Mel Stephens
A born and raised Fairview girl, Mel Stephens is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in publications like Medium, Thought Catalog and The Mighty. She is also a mental health advocate, podcast host and drinker of lattes. Mel lives in Fairview with her husband and five (yes, five) fur children where she is probably currently re-watching The Office for the 734th time. For more uplifting content and lots of dog and cat photos, you can follow @musiccitymel on all social media platforms. You can also drop Mel a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.