A Life Lesson

Over the past month, I’ve realised how important it is to breathe; physically, mentally and emotionally. Moving to London, diving head first into the unfamiliar, leaving all I have ever known and starting a full time opera course… it was and still is a journey of sheer drops, lofty mountains, walks through the woods, unearthed dangers, once in a lifetime thrills and unimaginable treasures.

I’ve experienced a lot over the last month. I’ve adapted to changes I never thought would come about. I’ve lived on my own for the first time in one of the biggest, loudest and most unforgiving cities in the world and I am not ashamed to admit that for the first three weeks I was drowning. I felt like my entire world was collapsing around me. I’d never felt so lonely before, and I’d never had such a swelling of nostalgia or a desire for things to return to how they were before.

The first week was the hardest and was made up of countless moments of helplessness and enough tears to fill a well, but an internal monologue played in my head when ever I succeeded in doing even the tiniest task; “Congratulations Lissie, you got out of bed this morning. Wow, good for you Lissie, you left the flat and you’re still alive. I’m so proud of you Lissie, you didn’t have a panic attack today!” I was assured it would get easier by the day, and I was surprised to find that it did. I could feel my skin getting thicker and my heart wrapping plates of iron armour around itself.

The opera course became my safe haven, a place for me to express myself and pour my built up emotion into music and song. In singing, breath is the anchor. Breath is what supports the sound and allows your artistry to bloom. In our course we began taking lessons in yoga and meditation, and suddenly breathing was not only a survival technique, but an essential tool, an invaluable resource, a friend. As I became more aware of this it translated itself into my personal life. I realised that rushing around, wearing out my brain and giving in to the stresses that a big city can burden you with was futile.

London is a city full of excitement, it’s a place that never ceases to shift and change, it is wonderful and unique, but also terrifying. Living here has made me realise that it’s so important to observe, to stand back, to admire and to stop trying so hard to understand everything. When I visited home for the first time after living in London for a week the first thing I realised was how still and quiet it was. Breathing was easier, not only because the air was fresher, but because as soon as I stood on the platform all I could hear was a beautiful crisp quiet. After returning to London I realised that it took me leaving that unrelenting city to truly appreciate it’s brilliance. But I also realised I needed to stop thinking London was against me, and admitting defeat so early on.

What I have realised now is this; There is no person on this earth who goes through life untouched by fear, loss, anger or sadness and the more I tried to protect myself from those inevitable forces in my life, the harder I fell. I realised that you must not fight so hard when the battle is already lost, that sometimes you just have to let it be. You have to watch the storm brew and accept that it may tear down your walls, but know that you will re-build them. Know that you are strong enough to brace the greatest winds and the strongest quakes. Also remember how wonderful the world is when it glistens, see love and light and laughter. But above all things know this; giving up will never, ever be an option.