A day into a new year, are we new people? Are we baptized fresh in some January snowfall, in the heat of some southern hemisphere glow? This a time of rebirth, this a time to choose something new, forge new paths through new wilderness, aim for more but love ourselves completely for where we’ve come, what we’ve survived, what we’ve endured in the great choking haze that was the last two years. This day, these to come more than any before, are a chance to see ourselves as great art carved into the sand of some seashore, able to become such vibrant bits of magic before the tide comes and washes the canvas clean. We can begin again, we can make new choices in a billion different ways, but I’m here today to urge you to begin with one simple choice above all others: Choose, as yes it is a choice and it’s a damn hard one and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, to make this year ahead the year that you stop comparing yourself to others, you stop trying to live up to some stupid bar that no one else but you is setting, the year to love yourself, completely. Finally, huh?
I talk about a lot of things on this Signal Fire, I dive into a lot of topics and to be frank, I don’t really ever know when I hit Publish what the result will be. I follow the beat of my own drummer (and pipes) deep inside my own strange mind, and I always have, and so there’s an element of uncertainty as to how things will be taken each time. Still I promise you I will stay this course, and I will always be honest with you, and what’s more, I will always give everything I have to these Signal Fire newsletters, to this community that you’ve all so graciously joined. What I’ve noticed over the first 16 months of doing this, is that some of you seem to carry more doubt for yourself than my autistic brain knows how to comprehend. Many of you avoid responding to the writing prompts, to the discussions, and I think for some it’s a matter of time, you’re simply too busy to do so, but for others I can feel the tangible fear in sharing bits of yourself. I think you doubt, and I think you worry about how you’ll be received, and this breaks my heart. I think the internets, social media especially, has fostered this environment of false bravado, of this strange blend of narcissism that paints completely unrealistic pictures of what a life should look like. People post their wins, but so rarely their losses, their successes, but never their failures. We, as viewers and followers, convince ourselves that if our life doesn’t reach the same perfect heights, we’re falling far short. Tragic, this, and to be honest it’s so much of why I have migrated so far away from social media over the last year. I was tired of seeing people presenting these false narratives, I was tired of staying honest and then being punished for it, in the loss of followers, the loss of visitors to our little merch shop. It sounds a silly thing, but those sales keep us eating, keep us paying insurance, keep me writing, and I felt such a strange pressure to keep going, keep fighting, keep standing resolute against the current of bullshit I saw all around me. It was time for a choice, and so I made one. I created this place, this magical little spot on the internets we now call home, this Signal Fire I wanted to light to be a beacon for all those that wanted authenticity above all things too, that wanted to make their own choices, and stand by them.
This, my dear friends, is where today’s haiku came from, it’s where this entire essay came from. It’s a reminder, it’s a bit of gasoline poured onto the Signal Fire I lit over a year ago, it’s a giant bellows to fan the flame as tall as I can make it, tall enough to see it from miles away, from half a planet if needs be. I’m here to tell you, to scream it in as gently fierce a voice as possible, that we NEED your voice, we want your voice, we’re desperate for it here. This little community can grow, it can become a safe place for anyone that’s ever felt like an outlier, whether that’s from autism like I (and my brother-from-another-mother Ash) have, or you’re an introvert, or you’re self-conscious about the way you write, or look, or how your voice sounds, or any number of other concerns that you may be (unnecessarily) holding onto. This is, and always has been, the safest of safe places where creativity can grow, thrive, and spread. I hope you know this, I hope you feel it every single day. At any rate, I digress, and I going to again here, so hang on tight.
Lately, my lovely wife and I have been watching a YouTube channel over lunch each day, and it’s been one of the most hilarious and inspiring things we never saw coming. It’s called Kinging-It, and it’s a travel-type vlog of a couple that wanders the planet, often in their own van they renovated themselves, in search of inspiration, and a bit of freedom. Their slogan, their catchphrase, reminded me so much of this entire topic today, as they sign every video out by saying “rule your own world,” and I couldn’t agree more with it. We need this, all of us, this reminder that we’re in control of our own destiny, and we’re able to shift gears, change paths, and decide for ourselves where we go, and who we will be when we get there. We can “rule our own worlds” and more than that, we should, day in and day out. We’re here in these beautiful bodies once, it’s up to us to create a life that excites us, and it’s up to us to choose every single day to love the people we are, flaws most especially, as nothing else teaches us like our own failures.
Happy New Year my friends, I hope however you celebrated it, whomever you celebrated it with, you were happy, you were content, and you were more than anything else, thrilled for the year to come. Big changes become with tiny choices, and I think we can begin right now making them. As Aimee would say, Rule Your Own World, and as I would follow, whatever you decide to do, always chase the light. The light around you, the light within you, the light hiding behind all those dark clouds and shadows. It’s there, I promise you it’s there. Choose to seek it out.
It’s ok you know
to love yourself completely
while aiming for more.