I want you to take a deep breath.
As you breathe in, I want you to feel the oxygen and nitrogen that flows pass your lips and into your lungs. Feel the expansion of your chest forward and the crown of your head rise as if you were on the verge of leading a nation, as if you were a newborn baby taking your very first breath, as if you are a human trying your best to show up exactly as you are. Now let go of the breath and relax as you feel the Carbon Dioxide dissolve away.
When I was younger, I would spend my summers out on Vancouver Island in the small town where my parents grew up.
Days were filled with trips to Qualicum Beach and Tofino with my cousins, while evenings involved our large Italian family yelling over each other while we picked cherries in the field beside our house. These were the days where our biggest worry was making it in time to the convenience store so we could stock up on our after dinner candy.
Happiness lied in the moment and each other. It was never something we had to work towards or create. Nothing ever felt permanent and somehow that was always a comforting feeling. One night, after we had cleared the dinner table and the sounds of the nightly news were fading into the background, my grandmother took me out into the backyard and pointed at the sky.
The sun had just begun to set and you could see the faint shimmer of the stars as they began to take their rightful spot in the sky. She looked down at me and began to tell me the stories of all the constellations. I heard the story of Orion’s Belt, Cassiopeia and the Little Dipper and before I knew it, we were sitting in pitch darkness. The stars never seemed to shine so bright as it illuminated my grandmother’s face.
After a few minutes of silence, my grandmother parted her lips and I was sure the next words out of her mouth would be telling me it was time to head into the house and get ready for bed. She looked at me and asked me if I knew what these sparkling embers of light were made of? I shook my head no.
“You see, these stars that we look up to every single night, the same constellations that our ancestors looked up to for centuries, are made up of elements such as nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, phosphorus…”
I remember glancing back at her with confusion.
What did listing the periodic table of elements have anything to do with these exciting new bedtime stories she was sharing with me just a few minutes ago?
“Ma chérie, listen to me closely. When you breathe, you inhale nitrogen and oxygen. When you exhale, you release carbon dioxide out into the world. You have phosphorus, and hydrogen in your body and bones. You are made up of the same elements that make up the stars. Every time you speak, every time you move, every time you do something in this world, you become the universe in motion. And when the world feels like it is conspiring against you, remember you are made of stardust.”
As a human being making your way in this world, there is no perfect way to live life.
No matter how much we search for it, there will never be a magic secret or the hidden treasure giving us the true meaning of life or the key to happiness. The great poet, Atticus, once said “We humans are so tortured by not properly guessing what will make us happy.” When I stumbled upon this quote, it was almost a decade later and I was in my third year of university. My heart dropped and I felt so far away from that once little girl sitting in the backyard with my grandmother feeling like I held all the power in the universe.
As I graduate from university, I have begun to recognize a trend.
At some point earlier on in our life, we all realized that our time on earth will come to an end and life suddenly turned into a mad dash to nail down our life purpose and make decisions that will ensure our happiness for years to come. The problem that comes with putting this pressure on ourselves to find these answers quickly and without faults, is that we don’t give room to the fact that as human beings, we are multi-faceted and ever changing. There will always be people who realize what they want to do early on in life and there will be people who take a bit longer.
There will also be people who find their purpose and then change it down the road. As much as it feels like there is this pressure to have it all figured out by a certain time in your life, it is okay to not have it all figured out. Stars go through 7 phases in their life span. They change and evolve. We never look at the night sky and think of all the things stars could be. We look at them as they are and see the power within them at that moment. The same love and grace should be extended to you too.
So please, remember when life gets tough and it feels a little too hard to be human, that you are made up of the same materials of the stars. That since birth, you have embodied and offer the same strength, light and guidance that the constellations do. You don’t have to go searching for the answers to the universe because you have the universe in the palms of your hands. You will always be your own North Star and everything you need is already within you.