This article was previously published in ENBY Magazine. The artwork and words belong to Jam Bridgett

Spirit First

I realized something — and like most grand realizations it was an uncomfortable experience, painful actually. I didn’t go looking for this revelation, it popped up and slapped me in the face. There’s no denying the sting and burn of a good slap. I felt it. I still feel it. Its force reverberated through my whole body, through my whole life. It slapped me and made me new.

It sounds grim and pessimistic, but I realized life is pointless — or rather there is no one point, no one aim, no one particular reason for life. We wander aimlessly, forced to create our own aims. Life is pointless so the point is to make a point — to make a point and walk towards it.

There really are no guarantees. We open our eyes and come into being. We are where we are, surrounded by strangers who may become family, and we are hopefully given a lifetime to become — to make something of ourselves; to live up to a name other people gave us; to create a life we’re proud of; to own something good enough to show another. But I realized the one we spend our lives inadvertently trying to show our lives to is ourselves, not others.

We cut our hair, get tattoos, or dress in crazy colours so that we can be read a certain way, but also with the intent of simply expressing our true selves. We seek to translate our deepest selves into the physical realm through various modes of body modification in order to be seen and in order to see ourselves.

We create and curate social media pages for many reasons, yes, but also to reflect our own identities back onto ourselves, for ourselves. Just as much as we post and repost for others’ validation, we seek to reflect an imagined version of self to validate our ideas of who we are.

We choose careers and try to forge paths within our chosen fields. Then we either spend our time trying to be the best or stand out from the pack or win all the awards or change the world.

Of course things like circumstance, family structure, or even our personality influence the degree to which we are able to live for ourselves, but at the end of the day I think we all want to.

Even if we wander aimlessly we wish to steer our own ships, and I realized there’s a reason why.

A few months ago I sat in the mirror and spoke to myself, and in a way I’ve never experienced before, I answered back. For the few minutes I spent alone in the mirror with myself, I realized this was the only place in the world to be. I realized that everything else in my life — social media, working toward a career, toxic relationships, childhood trauma, everything — was distracting me from this recognition of self, this relationship to self, this return to self.

In the mirror, I saw my inner child, crying and begging to have someone listen. I saw the overly critical bitchy version of myself who I’ve always sort of loved and who’s always been amused by that. I saw the calm mediator who simply wanted me to find peace. I held my gaze and cursed myself for never connecting with myself in this way before. It felt so good to look at myself and feel truly seen. It felt good to be with myself.

The funny thing about epiphanies is that they’re often not new thoughts, but their intensity makes it so that they confirm that which we have previously failed to accept. In theory I know it feels best to be recognized and validated by my own sight but feeling it with every part of my body and consciousness was different.

Looking at all my selves in the mirror, I realized I needed to spend more time mindfully doing so. I realized there is no point to my life if I can’t greet all my selves in the mirror. I realized there are many selves in this person I call Jam. I realized all my attempts to validate my identity are futile if I can not return to myself and my spirit in the mirror. I realized I can’t be happy in this external thing called life if each of my internal selves is not happy and healed. I realized I should be living for my spirit first.

I want to be able to look in the mirror one day and see my inner child smiling back. I want my inner bitchy self to recognize herself as the baddest of bitches, and therefore recognize me as the baddest bitch. I hope to one day make my inner mediator happy.

There was something about that mirror, or that room, or maybe something in me was ready to be seen, maybe something in me was finally ready to look.

In the time since my epiphany, my initial thought about life being pointless reformed before my eyes. I’ve realized it’s not that life is pointless but rather that the life I had been living had not been aimed at the correct target. I had been looking for all the wrong things in all the wrong places. I sought validation from others, I sought to be understood, I sought to be seen and held and loved. It’s not to say my epiphany has satisfied my desire for those things but that my epiphany showed me that none of these desires would satisfy me truly. My epiphany showed me only I could satisfy these desires within me.

For me, spirit first living means putting all the worries and stresses of my human life on the back burner. Spirit first living means creating a ritual out of the everyday. Spirit first living means engaging with the work of healing as often, and as consciously as possible. Spirit first living means prioritizing my spiritual health and wellbeing. Spirit first means working to recognize myself more deeply when I look in the mirror. Spirit first living means living in connection with my highest and most authentic self. Spirit first living means caring for my mind, body, spirit and shadow. Spirit first living means silencing the noise of the external world and attuning to the music and the stillness within me.



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Jam Bridgett

Jam Bridgett

writer and visual artist around Tkaronto. exploring themes of love, revolution, community and queerness + sharing unpublished writing of mine. (they/them)