For most of my life, I’ve walked with my head down. Mostly as a preventative for tripping, but also due to a lack of confidence. Lack of confidence in my ability to walk, lack of connection to the ground beneath my feet, lack of having any awareness in my feet, for that matter. But also just for a plain, good old-fashioned dosage of self-deprecation. If I looked down, maybe no one would take notice of me. No one would make fun of me, and I wouldn’t be able to see the stares of people as I transitioned from my ugly duckling phase into the body of a pretty lady. First seeing stares of disgust, and then stares of desire, both energies that I felt equally uncomfortable with.
I thought that maybe if I hunched enough, I could just disappear. And in one sense I did disappear. I disappeared into the space behind my eyes. Looking at the ground, I withdrew into myself. Into my thoughts, my daydreams, my emotions. My fantasies for what my life could be like instead of what my life actually was like. The space behind my eyes was a magical world, full of endless possibilities, not limited by my physical body when it experienced so many injuries, so many months on crutches. Not limited by my emotional body, which kept me guarded from people, from relationships, from life. In the space behind my eyes I was free. I was strong. I was so very different from the person who I saw when I looked into a mirror. From the person who I felt that others saw in me. So I just avoided looking. I looked down, I looked away, I avoided making eye contact with my true self out of fear of what I might find there.
Until I came here. Until I had a moment, where, in an instant so suddenly felt that my head snapped, I finally learned to look up. When I finally wanted to look up. When I finally felt grounded enough to trust my feet to hold me and to feel their way through space. To trust them to guide me wherever I need to go. To take the time to look at my present surroundings and to enjoy each moment. Each moment of safety. Each moment of beauty and of life. Each moment of enjoying that I am a part of each enjoyable moment that I experience. Slowly moving, drinking everything in with my eyes as I watch the sepia tones of sunset dance off leaves my size as they curl their protective arms overhead.
I feel like most of my life has been a journey towards learning to look up. Towards learning to look myself in the face, in the soul, in the eyes. No more looking at the ground, Lauren, waiting to trip, scared to fall. I finally have the courage to face my life head on. Head up. Eyes forward.