Sometimes You Need to Unplug From the Universe
By Mila Madison
My transition had stalled due to working too many long hours and traveling too far day in and out. There was no future for me there. My workplace had no discrimination policies to protect transgender people, and it did not cover transgender healthcare. My journey would have never progressed had I stayed. It was “his” life I was existing in, the person who had no real will to live. I decided to move on, with no real direction as to where I was going. It seemed so drastic and sudden, but it was time for me to continue my journey wherever it may lead. I was determined to start living instead of going nowhere fast.
My wife and I decided to take a trip up to the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. We were celebrating a friend’s birthday, and their family had a house there where we could spend some time together on the cheap. We were a group of transgender and non-binary people, a few couples, and friends. We would be unplugged from the world. There was no Internet or cell service where we were going. We would be completely off the grid for four days. It was the perfect opportunity to spend some time with some great people and hopefully begin to unwind from a life I gave way too much time and energy to.
“I NEVER HAD MUCH TIME IN MY LIFE TO APPRECIATE NATURE OR MUCH LESS DO ANYTHING SUCH AS TAKE A TRIP WITH FRIENDS BEFORE.”
We had all decided to trek up to Kaaterskill Falls at the top of the Catskill Mountains. I never had much time in my life to appreciate nature or much less do anything such as take a trip with friends before. My life had always been about work, and doing what I “had” to do. It had certainly been a long time since I was ever unplugged from the world. As we made our way up the mountain, I thought about how at that very moment a week ago I was getting yelled at by an angry customer while defending a company whose ideals did not align with my own. I even had a moment of guilt and the feeling I was being selfish for wanting to enjoy this time in my life, but that feeling would quickly fade as we made our way up the mountain.
When we finally reached the top, it was a scene of beauty. There was a beautiful brook that lead to a waterfall and we were all sitting on the rocks while looking over the edge, just taking in the serenity of the moment as we watched the sunset over the mountains. Suddenly, we all got quiet as we stared at the majestic nature of the view we were witnessing together. We had all been through so much just to be who we were. We had all suffered losses and people who turned their backs on us. We had all been discriminated against and told we were not acceptable in this world. In our own way, we were all recovering from some sort of PTSD from the effects of fighting for our very own existence, but we were far away from all that in this very moment.
It was so quiet as everyone was just taking in the beautiful surroundings. Gone were the Internet trolls, the haters, the TERF’s, and the Trump’s of the world. We were high above all that now. There was no news, no bathroom bills, or bigots. Even the people we passed along the way all seemed to get it; that there was so much more to this life than all the things we quibble about. There was no judgment up here at the top of this mountain.
“I LOOKED AT THESE AMAZING PEOPLE I WAS SPENDING TIME WITH AND REALIZED THAT EVEN THOUGH I LOST PEOPLE ALONG THE WAY, I GAINED A FAMILY THAT UNDERSTANDS ME.”
I looked at my friends around me as I wondered what they were all thinking about. My wife and I shared a kiss, held hands, and exchanged I love you’s as we sat on this great big rock looking at the sunset. I looked at these amazing people I was spending time with and realized that even though I lost people along the way, I gained a family that understands me. Then I looked down and saw a million trees below me as I realized how beautiful nature could be. Here you had a million different trees, they were all trees, but each one was different. Each one had it’s own characteristics, no one like the other, but still the same. I saw the same things in the rocks, the grass, and all the little animals that were scurrying around. I thought about how we accept these variations in nature without question, yet we have a problem with it when it comes to humanity. It is all kind of sad, but in this moment everything made sense. I saw beauty in it all, with each piece having its own story, it’s own journey. Every limb on every tree, every shape of every rock, and every drop of water that made its way down the waterfall. There was a whole word I had been missing out on for most of my life, but now my eyes were being opened to it.
I know in time things may get real as I will need to figure out how I am going to survive. The reality is that I am in so many ways a teenager again as my body and mind both change. And with those changes, my direction in life will go with it. The lesson I learned is that sometimes you need to unplug from the universe. Sometimes you need to stop and take a look around to appreciate the moment before you can truly understand where you are going. I used to live my life station to station. I needed to achieve “A” in order to appreciate “B’, but the appreciation would never come because I was already on to worrying about ”C”. I realized I never took the time to truly enjoy anything in my life, but now that is changing. It is about the journey and not the destination. It is something I never understood in my former existence.