Upon closing my eyes and dreaming up my hero, two images appear. One is a beautiful strong and tall Jason Momoa who sets his beach towel next to mine.
The other one is a medic who has come to my aide after a bullet tore through my gut and I lie gasping for air in a tragic “Saving Private Ryan” theatrical scene.
Both of these types of heroes are wildly different in many respects, but in one way they are the same: they’re present.
They aren’t in the future; they aren’t in the past. Jason Momoa is there saving me from loneliness on the beach wondering if I’ll ever find love or just give up and the medic is saving me from a bullet hole that has torn through me leaving me wondering if I can continue to live. In both cases, my fear is larger than life and it’s only healed at the moment. Well, OK, it’s only healed by a collection of moments that lead to love in one case or life in the other, but this collection of moments starts now, in the present; the moment each kneel down by my side on the sandy beach.
These instances may be slightly dramatic, but how different is this from taking a medication that your body needs to survive, or providing your body with its essential vitamins and nutrients to function? Further, how different is it from managing stress so that you don’t continue to strain your heart leading to eventual cardiovascular failure? How different is it than abstaining from sugar so that your blood sugar doesn’t dip into a diabetic stage setting you up to need insulin the rest of your life?
It isn’t any different other than the fact that you have complete control over it. You don’t have control over Jason Momoa to love you and you don’t have control over the medic’s skills to save you, but you do have control over the choices you are faced with today, at this moment, that either lead to unobstructed living or struggle and hardship. We have learned in the last article that you can’t wait for someone to rescue you here. You have to be your hero.
How? By doing the same thing Jason Momoa and the medic did. Come to your own side, right now. Be present. Close your eyes and feel your breath. Downloading a mindfulness app could be helpful. Just check in with yourself. Sit by your side, listen and diagnose yourself with what you need. When you find it, give it to yourself?
Mindfulness is something that is built. Take time to connect through the app, but then start applying mindfulness to every situation. When things get hectic, step back, check-in, save yourself from the stress; be your hero. When things get morose, dark, or melancholy, take a step forward — go on a walk or a jog; be your hero. When things get sad, take a step in, feel your sadness and recognize what you need to be happy; be your hero!
My Best Gay Self is a column by author, speaker, fitness coach and LGBTQ addiction and wellness advocate, Mark Turnipseed. He is also the Owner and CEO of Integrity Endurance, a network of personal trainers with the goal of fighting the opioid crisis through fitness. Visit www.markaturnipseed.com to learn more/contact or to find his book "My Suicide Race: Surviving the trauma of addiction, recovery and coming out."