February, 2018

Clarence Edwards, Policy Advocate and Strategist 

Clarence Edwards, Policy Advocate and Strategist 

When the End is the Beginning

by Clarence Edwards

I went through the majority of my adult life with few problems or serious challenges. Life was progressively moving upward; I had the job I wanted, wife I dreamt of having. It wasn’t perfect, but it was going there. I came to Washington DC and was living the life I wanted.

That all seemed like a dream on a cold Saturday afternoon in December 2012, weeks after separating from my wife. I sat on the edge of my single bed in an apartment with my clothes, a flatscreen television, and a sofa. That, more or less, is what I had to show for five years of marriage. I sat on my single bed, crying. “Why did this happen?? What is going on??” It’s a weird feeling, that sense of your life being out of your control. Or rather, losing the illusion that it ever was under your control. The universe flicked me off of a cliff, like a piece of dust off of its collar.

Maybe it was a few weeks later, after getting roused out of bed at 5:30 am when my trainer called to make sure I was on my way to the gym. Early morning in mid-winter on the DC metro is, in a word, bleak, which makes it a good time for podcasts. For some reason I stopped at one called “Meditate This”, put together by two self described regular guys from the Midwest who were trying to figure out this thing called “mindfulness.” One morning, I listened as they talked with Dr. Ellen Langer of Harvard University. They had the same questions I had. She talked about “active noticing” and quoting Stoic philosopher Seneca, said “reason shows us there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” On the way to the gym to rebuild my body, I found something to help rebuild my soul.

For me, living mindfully means being incredibly grateful for what I have – all of it – in this moment. It means looking back, even at the painful moments, with a smile and with deep love for yourself and with deep appreciation for those who were there with us.