A Thing I Have Learned (written By A Nobody Who Has Been Everybody)


It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d
developed other talents, said yes to different offers. Easy to wish
we’d worked harder, loved better, handled our finances more
astutely, been more popular, stayed in the band, gone to Australia,
said yes to the coffee or done more bloody yoga.

It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the
work we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry and the children
we didn’t have. It is not difficult to see yourself through the lens of
other people, and to wish you were all the different kaleidoscopic
versions of you they wanted you to be. It is easy to regret, and
keep regretting, ad infinitum, until our time runs out.
But it is not the lives we regret not living that are the real
problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel
and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy.

We can’t tell if any of those other versions would have been
better or worse. Those lives are happening, it is true, but you are
happening as well, and that is the happening we have to focus on.
Of course, we can’t visit every place or meet every person or do
every job, yet most of what we’d feel in any life is still available.
We don’t have to play every game to know what winning feels like.
We don’t have to hear every piece of music in the world to
understand music. We don’t have to have tried every variety of
grape from every vineyard to know the pleasure of wine. Love and
laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies.

We just have to close our eyes and savour the taste of the drink
in front of us and listen to the song as it plays.
We are as completely and utterly alive as we are in any other lite and have
access to the same emotional spectrum.

We only need to be one person.
We only need to feel one existence.
We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything,
because we are already infinite. While we are alive we always
contain a future of multifarious possibility.
So let’s be kind to the people in our own existence. Let’s
occasionally look up from the spot in which we are because,
wherever we happen to be standing, the sky above goes on for

Yesterday I knew I had no future, and that it was impossible for
me to accept my life as it is now. And though today that same
messy life seems just as messy, and I feel the weight of being,
something has changed. I have found something within this
darkness. Hope. Potential.

The doctor always told me my problem was situational and not
clinical. And yet my situation hasn’t changed. Neither really has my
problem. My depression-prone brain remains. What changed was a
chance to feel how every other situation could have been. I could
tell you about it, but you would never believe me. All I can tell you
is that there is only one thing that has changed. And yet that one
thing was everything. I don’t want to die any more. I hit rock bottom
and found something solid there. I have lived a lot in what feels to
you like a single night. I have travelled ten thousand miles from the
inconceivable to the feasible. From death to life.

The impossible, I suppose, happens via living.
Will my life be miraculously free from pain, despair, grief,
heartbreak, hardship, loneliness, depression? No.
But do I want to live?
Yes. Yes.
A thousand times, yes.

Matt Haig – The Midnight Library

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