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A Concept: I stop resisting things and accept them as they are
Reflections on recent obstacles explored through tarot and Miley Cyrus 2009 pop hit.
2022 was, undoubtedly, the happiest and most transformative year of my life. I turned thirty, had a job I adored, was living a life I was in love with, everything felt possible. I was under no illusion that it would last forever in an exponential incline - I have, obviously, been around enough to know that most things are “NoT LiNeAR”. But I wasn’t anticipating quitting my job (a decision not made lightly), making a brave and bold choice, but doing so slightly unprepared for how destabilising it would be, and for what would come next. This year was supposed to be my great comeback.
It hasn’t exactly felt like that. It’s felt more like okay I’m REALLY TRYING but this gay needs a BREAK kind of year. You know when you make a choice and you think this is like a brief side step which ends up being a whole detour down a path that seems to become only more confusing the further you proceed, and you’re not sure if you’re getting closer to your intended destination but you have to keep going as you can’t go back now? Like that.
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I’m closer to 31 than I am to 30 now, and there’s a lot of expectations that come with that. I thought I would be more financially stable (naive), I thought I might have healed or worked through my complicated relationship with my body (admittedly ambitious), and I really did think I would have become the sort of person who always had the correct socks paired together (completely unrealistic.) I thought that consuming so many stories about this stage of your life would have prepared me even a little bit, emotionally, for the reality of when the lives of your friends and peers start to diverge, after years of living intertwined or in parallel with theirs. This preparation in the form of popular media has not ‘helped’ per se. I always suspected I would be one of the ones who stayed in London. I did not think that when it started to become real that not everyone was going to be here forever that it would feel the way it does: bittersweet, intense, tender, with a hint of sadness - for what has gone, or what never got to be. There’s a lot of things I thought I would have done by now, and I am starting to understand that maybe I haven’t yet for good reason (worth noting this line of thought is available to me subject to whether I’m having a good day or not). There’s a lot of things I’ve struggled with in the last few months, and I don’t particularly like to be seen struggling. I much prefer to make it look easy, especially when it’s not, or show up after I’ve sorted it and reflect on the struggle after I’ve worked through it. I think that’s made writing this newsletter harder this last two months, because there have been a lot of obstacles and hills to climb. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve often felt lost and defeated. I’ve resisted writing through it, which probably would have helped, and lost a lot of energy lamenting on the obstacles that have been causing me distress. In life there are so many lessons you have to learn again and again and again!
I used to think the path to enlightenment, or contentment, was the removal of obstacles that I might, let’s say, deem ‘objectively unnecessary' (ugh I can actually HEAR myself saying that). However I’m afraid that enlightenment is actually found by overcoming the obstacles, or persisting despite their existence. Although as I write this I’m realising something about myself, or at least, my approach so far to “problems”, in particular those that are not easily rectified. How is it possible for me to be truly objective about these obstacles? I am far too close to them to ever achieve objectivity. Also, who am I to say these are unnecessary challenges I am facing? That sounds like an assumption of knowing that isn’t possible. How often do we think six months later that it was actually helpful to have encountered a previous situation that caused us grief at the time? It also sounds like intellectualising my experiences as a means of avoiding confronting head on some of the parts I don’t like. Based on my experience (I have it in abundance and also great references that will attest to it), wishing your problems away doesn’t tend to actually bring you closer to solving them, or, as the goal of the wish might be, eradicate them entirely. A more spiritual approach to the problems might be …. here it comes …. to try and accept them as they are. Hurts every time!
This calls to mind the tarot card The Hanged Man. In the image, the man is upside down, tied to a post, hanging by one foot. Despite this unusual position, he appears serene, at peace. The halo around his head might imply that by being in this unusual (and perhaps uncomfortable) position, a new perspective is illuminated. You could interpret too that this is only available to him because he has accepted the position he is in. They say this is the card of “ultimate surrender”. Whenever I am in times of transition, where obstacles not easily solved are everywhere, I often pull this card again and again. A nudge from the universe to remind me that we have been here before, and resistance isn’t usually helpful to navigating a tough situation.
The thing about obstacles is that ultimately there is always another one. Ok, let’s take a a beat, because it has now become apparent to me that in this newsletter I am waxing poetic* in the same vain as The Climb by Miley Cyrus, who puts it simply and made a pop hit out of it. This calls for an immediate investigation of the lyrics of the chorus, which I’ll admit I’ve never paid too much attention to, along with comments from yours truly:
There's always gonna be another mountain
SOOOO TRUE bestie!!!
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
DRAG ME TO HELL AND BACK
Always gonna be an uphill battle
IT SEEMS LIKE IT
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose -
HATE TO ADMIT IT BUT IT’S TRUE
Ain't about how fast I get there -
WHY AM I BEING ABSOLUTELY READ BY THIS 2009 POP HIT
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side -
ASPIRATIONAL DETACHMENT FROM THE VALIDATION OF THE OUTCOME
It's the climb -
IT’S NOT THE WINNING IT’S THE TAKING PART VIBES
*I did google waxing poetic because my face got hot imagining I was humiliating myself by misusing the phrase. The results? Most pleasing to me.
I thought I would arrive at a more satisfying conclusion by the end of this, but I’m not sure I will. Although by writing this I do think I’ve helped myself inch towards acceptance of the current situation: struggles and all. There are a lot of things I’d like to change about my life as it stands, and it definitely hasn’t worked out in the way that I thought it would a year ago. But when I step back, and look from a different point of view, I can see that despite that, there are also lots of things that do work, lots of things that I’m learning that will inform the choices I make next. I am already living the life I want in many ways. It is not perfect, but experiencing things that aren’t right for you is instructive: they lead you towards what is. I can see that the things I want aren’t as far away as I sometimes tell myself when I’m fixating on the parts of life that aren’t ideal. You do learn a lot when things go wrong, more so than when things go right. So annoying, but true. I also have to keep reminding myself, like I would to a loved one, you never have more grace than when you are struggling and continue to pick yourself up every day and keep going.
Keep trying. Hold your head high. I’m rooting for you!
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