I’ve always loved the word penultimate. One, because it just sounds good. It’s a pretty word. Two, because it’s a fancy way of saying “almost there” and carries with it so much hope and excitement. Even if you’re talking about the penultimate horror, well, you’re almost at the end of that horror and you’ll be free of it soon. On the penultimate day of this experiment, that word evokes a feeling of approaching accomplishment. It’s been a long time since I’ve made good on a promise to myself, and there’s a montage playing in mind as I write this of all the tough and good times over these past 29 days.
Before I dive into this day, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been reading through this, for the support, the encouragement, the advice, the concern, and just being there. I am convinced that doing this publicly has been the thing that has kept me going. You’ve held me accountable in the best of ways and you’ve kept me company through some work that could have been painfully solitary.
I’ve been reminded that there are people who love and care for me, something you often forget when you’re a miserable fuck. I’ve learned that there are strangers out there who are kind and helpful and looking out for people they don’t know. I’ve met people with similar struggles and have been introduced to a community of like-minded people who refuse to give up. And best of all, I’ve made some new friendships built on authenticity, honesty, and kindness, and learned that it’s never too late to make new friends. To everyone who has been following along, I owe these 29 days to you. Thank you.
I woke up late today, so the day got away from me. I had to do my weekly grocery shopping, so before I went, I mapped out the hilliest route there. I conquered every steep hill between here and the market, even the ones I avoided when I first started this project. The hills were still hard, especially so many in a row, and there was no one there to see me if I had decided to give up. But there was a shift in focus that I noticed today. I thought more about the result of the exercise than the effort itself. I kept going because I knew it would make me feel good, and I even ran a few because I could.
Random act of kindness
This one is so ripe for all kinds of new discoveries and realizations, and a new layer of the kindness onion opened up for me today. In its essence, the random act of kindness is a moment in your day where you think about someone else. Pure and simple. It gets you out of your head and into the heart of someone else—their needs, their journey through life. This one doesn’t have to be so hard, the acts don’t have to be elaborate. It’s like how I learned that meditation was really just about focusing on something, the acts of kindness are really just about putting someone before you.
Today on my walk up steep hills, I noticed a bunch of nails on the sidewalk that spilled out on to the road near a construction site. Normally I’d keep walking, this is someone else’s problem and doesn’t affect me if I stay clear of them. But I stopped and thought about other people—a kid running barefoot in the sun, a driver in her car who gets a tire popped. So I picked up the nails and put them in a pile, out of the way, but where the construction guys would see them. It wasn’t really a direct act of kindness to benefit any one person, but for a moment today, I thought about other people. And I suspect that this is a sign that this one is becoming less of a task and more of a behavior.
Reflect on something good that happened
When I got to the market, for a little while I was me again. The old me that likes people and makes friends easily. I wasn’t full of fear, judgment, and annoyance of every stranger I came into contact with. I talked to an Italian woman about salmon, an older gent about the best way to cook peppers, and the cashier about his day (he even gave me some free stuff, so friendliness pays). I’ve missed that Randy, and it was really good to see him.
A therapist that I used to see in Los Angeles gave me a guided meditation on CD a long time ago. I’ve had it in my iTunes list for years now, but it’s pretty much been on the shelf. It’s a meditation designed for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, and she asks you to imagine a guide that stands next to you while you explore your own heart. It always seemed a little too “feely” for me, so I’ve avoided it, but remembered today that I had it, and in the spirit of experimentation, I thought I’d give it a shot.
The instant that she said to imagine someone next to me, I immediately thought of MawMaw. I could feel her near me, I could clearly see her face, I could remember what her hand felt like in mine, and we spent some quality time together traveling through my emotional state. Today was the first day that I meditated while being a sobbing mess. I wasn’t ready for that meditation before today, and I am incredibly grateful to that extraordinary therapist for giving me some time with my grandmother today and for proving that it’s true that the people you love never really leave you.
3 things I’m grateful for:
1) All of the readers, the commenters, and the supporters
2) The kindness of the cashier at the market today
3) That the old Randy is still in there somewhere—thanks for not giving up on me
4) Time with my grandmother