Sadness does strange things to you. It makes you forget your goals, your wishes, your desires. It makes you want to go back to the place you feel like you know the best, even if that is only an illusion.
It was a hot afternoon in the East Bay. Point Reyes, the place I would consider the closest to my heart in a couple hundreds, most likely thouhands of miles radius, maybe in the entire world, was burning to the ground, together with thirty, maybe forty other wildfires tearing through the area. I felt like I was failing at every possible aspect of my life, I felt alone and tired, and honestly, a little desperate.
The last couple months have been quite hard, and even though I knew, somewhere deep down, that leaving this place that I called home by now and returning to the place where I grew up wouldn’t bring me any happiness, the exhausted, terrified, desperate me wanted nothing more than to return to the country where I was born and go walking through the beautiful green hills of Šumava as I just saw them in an Instagram post by said National Park.
It even went so far as to me looking for a small cottage to buy to live in there. (As much depressed as I was, I wasn’t in a bad enough place to start believing that I could live in the place I once called home.)
What the hell are you doing?
I suddenly asked myself. I snapped out of it a little bit. I closed the search bar with the sale listings. What the hell was I doing?
I realized that this wasn’t the first time it happened. Lately, I’ve been thinking about going back ‘home’ more often than usual. I aways attributed it to the nerves connected with the threat of deportation or the general anxiety of a pandemic raging across the world.
Fear does strange things to you. It makes you forget who you are, your values, your desires. It makes you forget all the hard work you’ve done, and want to hide away in a place that you know, even if that place is scarier than the one where you currently are.
It definitely did that to me.
There’s one place where I’ve been scared so much more than anywhre else in the world. That place is my childhood home.
I’ve never experienced bigger terror in my life than I experienced, somewhat regularly, in the place that was supposed to feel the safest in the world. And still, in this moment filled with sadness and worry, I wished to be back there. Back to the place I knew wouldn’t bring me neither hapiness nor safety, especially if I admitted to everything I realized I truly am, everything I learned, and everything I’ve come to believe in.
I realized I had to pull myself out of that strange place sadness and fear put me in. It wasn’t safe; it ripped all my values away from me and left me there, longing for the known, presenting it as “safe.”
I forbade myself from googling any more cottage listings. I remembered that I wouldn’t be able to get any good job there — the degree I got in the US doesn’t mean anything in the Czech Republic. I remembered that the photos of the beautiful place are just that — photos. The reality is a little different, with global warming, bark beetles, and corporate greed taking their toll on that little piece of paradise.
I remembered that most of my closest friends live in the Bay Area, and the rest is scattered across the world, from Colombia to Korea.
I remembered to breathe.
Strange, what sadness and fear do to us.
They make us forget that we are strong.
They make us forget how far we’ve come.
They make us forget who we are.
But maybe, just maybe, every time we pull through and keep going despite them, they make us even stronger. They help us realize even more how far we’ve come. And they make us remember with even more urgency who we are.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Let’s use sadness and fear to confirm this, even if it’s bloody hard.
Keep it rolling. ✌️