There has always been repetition in my life, a pattern I created, or just my mind spiraling around the drain. When I was younger, it kept me miserable, cycling through the same patterns of hopelessness and despair. “What came first, the music or the misery?” I listened to music that reinforced what I felt, long before I really had cause to feel much of anything. But, when we’re young we believe there is so much to fear and hate. It takes time to understand what life really is.

Patterns have always shaped my life. Once it was misery, a cycle of work and food with no goal or hope. I have used those same patterns to my advantage, meditating on what I want to be or understand. I think that’s why meditation works so well for me. “It’s only when you lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”

I am one step closer to what I have been working toward. I have been invited to serve in the Peace Corps, assuming I can jump through all the hoops. It will cost me, as every step along the way has. I will lose everything I have built here, even if it wasn’t much, even in such a short time. “For every joy, a sorrow.”

I repeat mantras in my mind every day, leading me toward my goals. The problem is, I don’t really know what my goals are. To be better, to see more, to find questions and answers? I don’t know. But I sacrificed everything to walk this path. I wonder if it was the right choice, but I know I would be miserable if I hadn’t made it. I am on this path, the road less traveled, and I want to keep going even if I can’t see more than a few steps ahead. “One step and then the next gets you where you’re going.”

The problem with this path isn’t the path, it’s me. When I was river tracing I noticed a tendency that makes sense in an odd way. When I was on land, I first looked to the route that kept me on land, even if it was more dangerous. Once I was in the water, I looked to stay in the water, even if it was obviously more difficult. It is easy to find a path and continue it. The easiest thing for the mind to do is repeat, the same steps, the same words, the same feelings and thoughts that it knows best. “An object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an outside force.”

That will is what makes us more than animals. Most animals don’t have the capability to see themselves act, to change their behaviors, or to rewrite their brains by changing their thoughts and actions. I know a lot of people never do either, but self-awareness is a difficult concept, and many people believe they are awake when they are consumed by the storm. I have always been fairly self-aware, whether it’s my analytical nature, all the books I’ve read to escape my life, or simply a disbelief that all this could be real. It’s arrogant to believe that my mind could be powerful enough to create this illusion, but I know that nothing in this world is what it seems to be. “It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.”

The Footballer asked me about mantras and meditation, questions that I have asked more than once. There are endless books and videos on how to meditate, but the truth is that it is nothing more than pulling on the leash of your mind. Like a pet, it runs, and you pull it back. It pisses on the carpet, and you pull it back. If you give it anger, love, hate, or fear, that is what it will become. All the mantras, the kung fu, the prayers, and teachings are built on this simple concept. Control your mind with a light touch and an open heart, simply letting all that you are just be. “Live your life like an open wound.”

Fragments repeat in my mind, directing me through the world. I can still obsess over what was, and what never was, but I choose to do more. I stopped listening to all those songs of heartbreak and despair, at least in English, because I choose not to be that person anymore. If I am to repeat, I would rather it was a cycle of passion and determination. Love and rage before loneliness and despair. It is still easy for me to fall back on old habits, to give up hope, but that is my battle, against the demon of sloth. “Hell has not seen nor heaven created the one who can prevail against me.”

I am in the Peace Corps. It’s just an invite, but barring fate I will be somewhere in central China this time next year. I will not fail because of the voices I stopped listening to so long ago. I remember the Council saying that when my ex left me for the Navy that she went to war and I went to peace. There is more to it than that. Life is always infinitely complex, but I have been on this path for years now. There is a lot to be done, and time moves quickly, but I will stay on this path as long as I can. “There are miles to go before I rest.”

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