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Esse Quam Videri

May 5. 2010

Some days, it is enough simply to  be.

There is something so thrilling about just being alive and wandering down a crowded street on a sunny day, watching the faces and dogs and feeling the breeze and hearing the sounds of the city moving around me.  Truly experiencing the moment, being there with no thought of the future or trying to capture this image so others can see it – no, this is my moment, my beauty, and if, for a moment, each person could feel this serenity in living, the world would be a better place.

It’s so easy to become caught up in judgement – judging yourself, judging the people around you, judging where you are going to go next, what to do, what to eat, how to move.  It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting people to perceive you a certain way, that you forget to actually live.  There are always plans to be made, another step to be taken in a different direction, things you haven’t done, and they converge to create this swirling vortex of need dragging you out of your present.

Yesterday, I received an interesting comment from a blog friend.  She said she had no idea I struggled from depression, because I always seem so happy.  I can’t even explain to you how much that describes me.  For so many years, I have seemed to be something other than what I am.  I learned, so well, how to smile to coverup a heartbreak, to laugh when I feel like breaking down, to hide, to don a lovely mask.  I was so good at this, sometimes I forgot that I wasn’t actually the person I pretended to be.  People who got close to me were often surprised to find this chaotic mass of black smoke swirling underneath the face that seemed so together, so strong, so happy.

This is because, for so many years, I have simply seemed to be. I had fears and doubts and so much pain, but I was afraid to face it, so I pretended it didn’t exist.  Of course, it was like “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” I can fool the rest of the world but eventually reality will set in.  I was not happy, I was not experiencing.  I was shutting myself off from the people I loved because it was easier to pretend I was okay and hide.  Mostly, I have been afraid of my friends abandoning me if I were to show them the things I was really feeling.  No one wants to be around a Debbie Downer, so I instead was Sunny Susie Hiding A Secret.  I seemed to be happy, I seemed to be content, I seemed to be gorgeous and healthy, but I was none of those things.

Here’s a secret – it doesn’t matter how pretty you are, how strong you are, how intelligent you are – as long as you don’t feel that way about yourself, you will never feel like you deserve the praises you get.  You will never feel like you deserve anything, at all.  I used to believe that.  I would look in the mirror and see the darkness.  I was always waiting for someone to come turn on the light for me.

Well, I’ve decided to stop waiting.  I’ve decided that no one else can be my light.  I need to make every moment in my life bright and beautiful, for myself.

Yesterday was one of those absolutely perfect days – epitomizing the sense of actually experiencing the present.  They (who the hell is “they?”) say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I’ve found pictures do not do justice to the true beauty of a moment.  These moments are worth more than words.  I only have the images in my mind – and I wish I could show them to you, but I cannot.  I cannot show you how beautiful the leaves on the trees at Bryant Park looked, illuminated against the blue sky as I took my first attempt at a dancer pose.  I wish I could capture for you the brilliant feeling – pure bliss – that I was utterly floating in as I watched the sun setting over Manhattan from my Pilates studio, and realizing, as I focused my gaze on the Empire State Building, that just a few short hours before, I had been atop that tower, gazing down upon the sparkling beauty that is New York City.  And I wish I could adequately express how it feels to look down upon your home from high up and know that this city is you, and this is where you truly belong.  I wish I could explain it, but I can’t.  Everything feels so right, so serendipitous, it’s hard not to believe that this is the path that I have always been intended to follow.  The signs are all there – even the train is always waiting for me when I need it to be, these days.

Yesterday, I did things that scare me.  I went to my first yoga class, in Bryant Park, where I was subject to the gaze of the random passerby, as well as the judgement of the other people taking the class with me.  But instead of thinking about that, even for the briefest second, I just went with it.  And guess what?  I loved it.  It was difficult sometimes, mostly when it came to poses I am unfamiliar with, but I felt powerful and connected.  And in the strangest way, it felt so right for me to be there, in the heart of busy Manhattan, doing yoga under the blue blue sky and the shadow of the New York Public Library.  I’m sure, for those who prefer silence to find their zen, this would be a distracting place to be, but for me, amid the sirens and the drilling and the rumble of the subway underground, surrounded by strangers and tall buildings, I found inner peace.  In fact, as I pulled my leg back into dancer, and breathed, and tried to catch my balance, I suddenly heard Alicia Keys singing –

In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
Theres nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you.

How the instructor knew, at that moment, this was the perfect song, is beyond me, but I felt it down to my soul.  At that moment, and on top of the Empire State building, and sitting on the mat in Pilates, I knew, there is nothing I can’t do.  It’s just a matter of trying.

Yesterday, I learned the true meaning of Esse Quam Videri, which is Latin for “to be rather than to seem to be.”  Esse Quam Videri has meant so much to me for various reasons over the past several years, but until yesterday, I didn’t truly understand what it means.  Now I do.  And I vow to always do my best to be instead of seeming to be, because when I am truly present, I am fulfilled and less fearful.  I can look down from 1200 feet and not panic that, despite these high guard rails, I’m going to fall off the edge.  I can balance on one leg while holding the other up in the air behind me, knowing that if I have to put my leg down, it’s okay.  I can invite a girl I haven’t spoken to in years, but miss, to do yoga with me, knowing that even if she says no, at least I did it (but she said yes, which makes it even better).

Conquering your fears is sometimes so simple as reminding yourself that you can do it.  If I can, anyone can.

Esse quam videri.

(How’s that for a Wordy Wednesday?)

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5. 2010 11.23 am

    esse quam videri…i like it!

    your posts are always so enlightening. i too never knew you suffered from depression, because like she said, you always seemed so happy.

    im happy for you that you’ve found your place and are figuring it all out.

    p.s. i love the lyrics to that song. ive never been to NYC but to me its just so powerful…

    • May 5. 2010 10.08 pm

      Genesis, thank you so much. Really. For everything. Your comments always make my day.

  2. May 5. 2010 11.27 am

    Thanks for this beautiful post! You sound like me — in the pretending-to-be-happy way. (Yes, I know my blog doesn’t exactly reflect that, but I’m a different person in real life!) It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to come out from behind that mask and discover who you really are.

    ❤ ❤

    • May 5. 2010 11.33 am

      I’m not going to lie, I am a STRONG BELIEVER in “Fake it til you mean it” when it comes to being happy, but I’ve learned that it only works to a certain extent. If you need to fake it on the outside, it’s important to at least try to deal with it on the inside.

  3. May 5. 2010 11.41 am

    I LOVE this post. It can be so hard to just BE. I find the moments of greatest peace have happened when I am 1) Mindful and 2) LET GO. I even got a tattoo on my wrist to remind me when I am clinging to a false sense of being. We feel things, struggle with things, and there is nothing wrong with BEing who we are, truthful to our feelings, emotions, and place we are right now. I am so proud of you doing something out of your comfort zone with the yoga class. I did the same thing a while back and while I haven’t returned, I am proud of going and DOing something that challenged me. Made me feel my body in ways I hadnt for a long time.

    So kudos for you and your journey and finding a little sense of peace in BEing with who you are 🙂

  4. May 5. 2010 1.37 pm

    Inspiring and poignant. Thanks for sharing and hitting on something so deep and resonant. Esse quam videri – I’ll remember that… 🙂

    • May 5. 2010 10.08 pm

      Thank you so much! I think “esse quam videri” is relevant to everyone. I’m so glad this post is so accessible..I was nervous about posting it!

  5. May 5. 2010 2.29 pm

    That was very beautifully written and definitely resonates me… about doing something that scares you, about pretending, about new york.

    I did something a couple days ago that scared me more than anything (not quite ready to discuss it on the blog yet). But it’s so important to be true to yourself… if you’re not, what;s the point?

    Good for you for conquering your fears. It’s so much harder than it looks… but its worth it!

    • May 5. 2010 4.16 pm

      sometimes you just have to take the plunge, even when you think you aren’t ready.

      Unrelated, you should go to yoga in the park!

  6. Shelley (findinghappinessandhealth) permalink
    May 5. 2010 4.16 pm

    this is such a beautiful post, you are absolutely amazing! I am so inspired by you and your ability to figure out who you are and who you want to be. It is so true that it is so easy to fake it- but faking it will ultimately leave you dissatisfied. love you girl!! you’re awesome

    xoxoo

    • May 5. 2010 10.07 pm

      thank you so much for the beautiful comment shelley! it makes my day to know that I inspire 🙂

  7. May 5. 2010 6.16 pm

    Wow. I am absolutely blown away by every post on this new blog. There are no words to describe how beautiful and true everything you said is. Just wow. I am so happy that you have finally reached a place where you see how special you truly are, because it is evident in every word of this post!!

    • May 5. 2010 10.06 pm

      Ahh I’m so glad you like this post 🙂 I can’t promise every post is going to be insightful like this but I’m in that mood today

  8. May 5. 2010 7.11 pm

    You’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how much you and I have in common.

    “Here’s a secret – it doesn’t matter how pretty you are, how strong you are, how intelligent you are – as long as you don’t feel that way about yourself, you will never feel like you deserve the praises you get.” Hauntingly true.

    I love your philosophy about life and happiness. My favorite saying, “Life is what you make of it.” It sounds like you are making wonderful things out of your gift 🙂

    • May 5. 2010 10.05 pm

      Oh my. Thank you so much. As a longtime reader of yours, I suspected we may have a lot in common but oh how nice to have my suspicions confirmed 🙂

  9. May 5. 2010 10.21 pm

    You are so right. I’m only now realizing that I’ve been depressed, at least mildly, for several years now, but I was always so afraid of showing any sadness (which I thought of as weakness) that I became pro at putting on my brave/funny face. It’s tough to exist one way in your mind and another way with others. Time has come for me to bridge the gap! 🙂

    • May 5. 2010 10.43 pm

      I am utterly blown away by this comment. It’s amazing how we don’t feel that we can actually become THAT person we look like we are, because we fear our emotions. I think it’s a strength to be able to accept your sadness and fears as a part of your whole. Thank you so much for this comment. I really believe, if you want it, you can make the leap!

  10. May 6. 2010 12.09 am

    Great comment to me, thank you for understanding that I can’t always get you back with the in depth-ness of prose that you do for me…but they are all appreciated. And with that, I have Barbies to play with 🙂

    love this post…and you!!!!
    xo

  11. May 6. 2010 2.08 am

    Wow, girl. I loved every word you wrote here, and was nodding all the way through. I also have a problem with to live for the moment, to enjoy the moment, and to just be. Being true to yourself takes real courage. And the hardest thing is to find true, inner peace. I’m so glad you found yours, even admist the busy, messy Manhattan city.

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