There are very few things I love more than my alma mater, and anyone who spends any extensive time with me can attest to that. From my Tennessee home key, to my “you’ll always be…” necklace, to the orange and white checkered post-it notes that sit on my desk, I am a Tennessee Volunteer through and through. But if I had to choose one thing that stood out among the traditions born on Rocky Top I would solidly choose the Torchbearer’s Creed.
One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.
I found myself standing with these words on Saturday as I thought of a goal for myself: to be the torch and the torchbearer. When I made the proclamation I was thinking of being fire–owning the power that is within me that, yes, has the potential to destroy but also has the potential to warm and sustain–and also being the giver of light to others. This brought my life long goal full-circle. I have always only ever wanted to inspire people. Simple, right? The piece that was missing was the former part, recognizing that in order to give others’ their light, I have to first be the light.
I woke up this morning in a curious predicament. I was wrapped up in my blankets and sheets, quite literally they had formed a cocoon around me and as I came into full consciousness I wondered what on earth had I done in my sleep? I rarely ever move in my sleep, and yet here I had swaddled myself in the night. My morning ritual is to begin by saying thank you to God and expressing gratitude for anything that comes to mind. So I began my thanks, and as my feet hit the floor I knew something was different. I felt different. Now, it would be awfully cliche to suggest that on the night I cocooned myself in my bedding that the next morning I emerged this wonderfully transcendent and enlightened butterfly, and I am not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that today and everyday after today will be markedly different than the days that have preceded it.
Last night in hearing the incredible gifts that each of my colleagues, friends, and confidants shared in class was was so therapeutic. One in particular though was in so many ways my story and as he offered how he would go through it all again just to be where he was today with us, that there was and is a divine reason and order for everything. So when I woke this morning I said thank you to my father. And I thanked him for the hard time that I/we went through between 2007-2009. I thanked him for loving me in the very best way that he knew how. I forgave myself for making him the villain in so many stories I’ve told and I understood that had it not been what it was, I could not be where I am. Similarly, in the moments of last night I thanked my weight. It sounds weird to admit. But, had it not been for the sheer volume of my physical body…I remember it was raining on perhaps one of, if not the, darkest days of my life and thinking I could just as easily disappear…and that I would go through with committing to my physical nonexistence if it were not for leaving this ugly body to then be handled and seen by all sorts of people. Its really…honestly its fucked up to think about and it seems so far away in the emotional memory of me, but it was there. I couldn’t die without being beautiful first, and that meant thin. So I thanked my weight because if I had been anything but 334lbs in that moment, I might have done something irreparable.
And then there is right now, the moment where I see the immense value of my life and am very aware of my purpose during my time here. The space where I see what I have to offer and am beginning to find outlets to engage and grow. The place where I recognize the gifts that those around me have to offer and I am inspired by them. I live in a garden with so much potential around me and it is exciting and inspirational and a blessing.
When I consider where I was and where I am, I have this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. It is with absolutely grace that I look over the events in my life and think, my god was it beautiful. I learned to stand alone when I was left. I learned the gift in living when I most wanted to die. I learned the power of my own voice when I was asked to be quiet. So I suppose this is but a continued portion of my morning ritual, a moment of thanks.
Since the time of my depression I have not considered my own mortality. I have never thought of what it might be like to not be here anymore, and while I do not fear death it is quite an awesome (in the true sense of the word) state to contemplate. What I smile at is that by spreading my own light, that pieces of me will exist in anyone ignited by my flame. And in that way, we are all infinite…as is by design. What is perhaps the most cool thing about the universe’s way is that it only works if we are a we…we are not an multitude of i’s. That is the only way it works, as a collective; the creed too because it is with the other that I, the torchbearer, find my purpose. And to that I have to say thank you to you, simply for being and in doing so, bringing me into existence.