It was during the fall, one year and a half into my illness. I had gone through the worst of it in a period of months earlier that year, being bedridden and only awake for a couple hours to eat meals each day. I was beginning to write small passages and read a few pages of my books again, able to sit outside and take in the fresh vibrant colours, and breathe in the crisp fall air.
It was 3:30 am in the morning when it happened. I had fallen asleep next to my Mom like any other night, in our room facing the garden at my grandparents home where we lived. I still think about this experience and find it hard to explain in words, but it was the moment that changed my entire life. I call it The Epiphany.
I was not waking, nor was I sleeping - it was as if I were somewhere in between, deep in my consciousness, being shown a message sent to me from my soul itself. I saw chapters of my life, images of places I had been and things I had done, all flashes linked together like scenes of a movie. I saw myself sitting in the cafeteria where I'd have lunch by myself between classes at York University. I saw myself at Schulich in the grayed-out library trying to finish an unending amount of work for my degree. I saw myself in the Path at BMO downtown where I froze each summer during my internships in the over-air-conditioned buildings, the rows of people filing in and out each day to work and back home from the GO Train. Rush from the train to come in to work, eat, work, rush to leave on the train home. And repeat. All dressed alike and moving in robotic fashion. Just as I remembered it.
I saw myself in these different chapters of my life, but not only in images - in smells, in tastes, in sounds, in touch and most of all, in feelings too. I felt what it was like to live these times in my life. I felt the heaviness I had felt, the way I dragged myself through it all, the sadness and the loneliness. All the things I never allowed myself to feel as I lived it because I was so focused on completing the task. Complete the degree. Get the internship. Find the company that would give me the financial independence and security to carry on in the world. It was a terrible feeling, draining me of all life essence and motivation from any place other than, I had to. There was no other way. It'll be better when it's over. All the lies I told myself.
And then the scenes of the movie string shifted, and I saw myself again, but in other chapters. When I volunteered in Jamaica with The Power to Be International, on Exchange living in France and travelling all of Europe, in high school laughing with my friends, in my bucket list summer when I explored all of Toronto on foot. I felt the feeling of doing these things, of what it was to be in those moments, the laughter, the joy, the exhilarating sensation of being so alive and engaged, bursting with purpose and vibrancy.
And as I was allowed to feel each chapter fully - through all my senses, essentially reliving my life in a movie reel - I was asked one question:
Will you choose to live, or merely exist?
And I could clearly understand the difference between the two, having felt the first set of chapters of my life lived out of obligation and fear compared to the following series of chapters that were bursting with exuberance, meaning and joy.
A horse and its reigns were above me, with me lying on the ground, and a figure asked, "Will you get on? Will you ride? Do you choose to live?"
And my answer was, is and always will be: YES.
I got on that horse and I rode - and as my eyes opened at 3:30 am on that seemingly-ordinary fall day, I knew everything had changed.
With that one choice - my life would never be the same again. I was given an opportunity to try again - to truly live each and every moment from that place of truth within my being - the life I had chosen to live - and I took it. I chose it. Life in its uncertainty, life in its heart break, life in its raw emotional force - life as I intended - life as the magical creation and expression of my soul.
I woke up and knew, I was reborn. A phoenix rising from the ashes. I was blessed with this life, and this time, I was going to truly live it fully - from my heart. That was all it took to ignite the transformational journey I began that day that led me to the most beautiful of places in my heart and soul. My entire health condition took an upturn in such a dramatic way from where I had been. This was it, this was my comeback as a whole new being from a truth I could only feel as the fire in my soul. And I knew nothing could ever take that from me.
More than two years later I can say I still live this way, regardless of my situation or circumstances, I am living each moment to the fullest - whether that's in tears, joy, anger or laughter. I am healing each and every day - and living. I am truly living.
Thanks for listening. Talk again soon,