“I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning,” said Alice a little timidly; “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” – Alice in Wonderland
In 2019, I found myself watching a beautiful sunset over tiled rooftops in Bali, Indonesia. The call to prayer echoed in the distance, and I found myself in the middle of an internal battle of the mind.
Regret. Doubt. Fear. They plagued me. I felt lost, alone, and unsure of what the next chapter of my life would look like. Despite being in a beautiful paradise, I looked at the sky and questioned whether or not I was living in Hell – or Heaven.
“God, Universe…(if you’re listening), I could use some hope.” I prayed, reaching out to whatever spirit could help me.
At the time, I didn’t know what to make of my life. I felt the distance between those I loved, unsure of how/when I’d get back to the United States, and had no idea of how I’d drum up the business needed to be independent/self-employed again.
Punch drunk. The years had taken their toll, and I struggled not to succumb to the weight of of regret, as I remembered times where I had direction, drive, and flush bank accounts.
“You’re exactly where you need to be at this moment in time…”
I wouldn’t be showing an authentic picture of my life if I were to leave out the moments that didn’t look pretty. Between all of the shiny status updates, world travel, and excitement, I was falling to pieces inside – and knew it.
Rather than own my fears, hurts, and pain, I spent years self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and distraction. Eventually, it caught up to me, and I couldn’t mask the toll these choices made on my body, which shed over 30 pounds of hard-earned muscle.
“Aaron, I was worried that one day I’d get a phone call and hear that you weren’t with us anymore” I recently heard from a friend, who watched my struggle from afar.
When you go through a dark chapter, sometimes that’s when the universe speaks to you in ways only you can understand. I knew that going to Indonesia would force me to confront my inner demons, while regaining sobriety. I bought a one-way ticket and opened my heart for whatever needed to occur.
As the months went by, the process began to yield fruit as pride and ego went through the fire I saw stirring inside of me. My heart, it was coming alive again.
I began to reconnect with my inner child, who reminded me to rediscover my joy; the things that made me feel alive.
I remembered what it felt like to wake up in the morning and be still, watching the sun rise over Kerobokan rooftops as it lit up the mountains in the distance.
Once upon an average morn, an average boy was born for the second time…
Despite having loving friends/family there to encourage and support me, what needed to occur was my own acceptance of…myself. That’s when the healing really started to occur, as I found inner truth that nobody could ever pry away from me.
“I don’t always get it right.” became a mantra that helped me forgive the moments where I lost track of my values and let down those closest to me.
Salvation. You don’t always find it in a place of worship…as some never will.
As I reflect back on those days in Bali, I can only wonder at the way the universe works. For so many years, I tried to be somebody, chased success, and lost sight of the things most important to my heart.
I learned to accept the idea that others give you what they have. You can’t expect anything more, either.
Today, I’m thankful. Thankful for the birds in the sky, beautiful friends who love me without judgement, and a life that has weathered many storms.
Things aren’t always easy – nor should they be – but, I hope you find encouragement where you are, no matter where you are.
We’re all in this ‘life’ thing together, and its our broken pieces that help make us whole when we allow the universe to mend us, just as we are.
Most recently, I’ve learned it’s not about having your proverbial shit together. After all, who really does? What matters most is when you embrace each step the universe has for you, with gratitude and acceptance that only you can offer yourself.
You, as you are, are beautiful.