Tyler Knott Gregson is a poet, author, photographer and a Buddhist living in Montana. You can follow him on Instagram @tylerknott.
HIS FIRST HEARTBREAK
“I can remember distinctly the feeling of being cheated on at a younger age, and how devastating it felt. I remember the way it made me instantly question myself, my worth, and what I actually was if such a thing was possible. I remember the way it made me feel sick to my stomach, and the panoply of ridiculous images it planted in my head. Some awful slideshow I couldn’t turn off that my imagination was making so much worse than it ever could have been. It’s wild how far your mind can go to torture you when hard times hit, and I remember so vividly what it felt like.”
ADVICE HE WOULD GIVE HIS YOUNGER SELF
“Just to breathe, to keep things in perspective and realize how completely transitory all things are. All things change, all things pass, and the hurt that you just swear you will never be able to endure, is endured, healed, and forgiven. It’s so easy to forget those things in the thick of sadness, it’s so easy to imagine that your pain is forever and will never ease.”
HIS MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK
“Hmm. I don’t know how often I am heart-Broken as much as I am heart-Bent. My heart is an insanely flexible creature, and it seems to be extremely susceptible to the highs and lows of life. I don’t live much in the middle of emotion, and this can be a good or a bad thing. Saying that, my hopes often get very up for things, only to get let down, so minor little “heartbends” happen quite often, but nothing too massive or crazy. My life and job has made me a hermit on a mountain over the last few years, so I would say the most heartbreaking thing has just been the loneliness of being alone so often. It’s why I write, of what I want, need, am missing, and long for all this time. It’s a beautiful life, but it can certainly be a quiet one sometimes.”
“People that offer perspective are invaluable in hard times like breakups and heartbreak. People who are going to shoot you straight, and absolutely refuse to let you fall into the spiral of dramatic exaggeration of thought. It’s too easy to let small things manifest themselves into giant ones, and the people who calmly steer you back onto the right road are worth everything. I’ve found that artistic pursuits, writing, photography, painting, music, all help give a voice or a color or a sound to the things that are trying to explode in us, so I would say that art is massively healing.”
“I think negative thoughts and dwelling on unchangeable things tends to hurt people the most. The incessant worry about every detail that transpired, and the constant wondering and worry as to what they are doing now, and why. I think we have a choice as to how we see the things that happen to us, and often we seek out others that reinforce the choices we make, so when we start falling down that negative rabbit hole, we seek out those that will make us feel correct in doing so. We need people to act as fans, not vacuums.”
HIS BREAKUP VICE
“Probably guilt, and the feeling that I was not as good as I could have been, I was not giving enough or trying hard enough. Silly things that when you step back and look at the bigger picture, you see are not true. Sometimes people do not fit, or at least do not fit as well as they should, and that is ok. I think maybe love is like a dartboard, with a lot of different ways to have extremely high scores of compatibility, but maybe, just maybe, there is only one bullseye out there. Who knows.”
HIS BREAKUP RITUALS
“Time. Meditation. Writing. Exercise. I think trying to avoid the sadness, and trying to bypass that stage of mourning, however brief or extended, is the worst thing you can do. You have to allow yourself to swim in the murky waters for a bit, before you clean off. I think too many people try to do anything and everything to distract from the sadness, running from it with all their strength, but it always catches up. Always. Too many of the distractions end up causing regrets on top of the melancholy anyways.”
CAN EXES BE FRIENDS?
“With the grace of time, absolutely. I think it takes time, a healing and a mourning period, in order for friendship to be realized. Trying to move too quickly from a relationship to a friendship can only lead to resentment, jealousy, and a whole slew of other negative side-effects that no one needs. Give yourselves, give each other, the right amount of time to remember what positives you found in each other, rather than the negatives that pushed you apart.”
DO YOU STAY CONNECTED WITH EXES ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
“I do. So far, I’ve never ended a relationship in such a way that there was hatred or animosity. It’s fascinating to see what those I shared pieces of myself with are up to now, how they’ve changed and grown, how they’ve found the happiness they too were searching for.”
BEST ADVICE ON HEARTBREAK TYLER HAS RECEIVED
“Simply that time truly does heal, and hearts don’t break, they just bend. Seeing heartbreak as just a really intense bending, really helped me to realize how transitory and temporary even the worst of times are. I wrote once, ‘Bend. Always bend because you are made of more strength than you know, because you are better than the breaking.’ I believe it still.”
FAVORITE SONG ON HEARTBREAK
“My goodness, too many to count. All the best songs are the sad ones. I would say some that stand out are So Cruel by U2, Skinny Love by Bon Iver, and absolutely She Always Takes it Black by my best friend Gregory Alan Isakov.”
WHY HE KEEPS HIS HEART OPEN
“I’ve always held this belief, shaped I think by my following of Buddhism, as well as a lot of old philosophers like Nietzsche, that you have to love the bad with the same intensity as you love the good. That without the sadness, the heartbreak, ache, longing, and melancholy, the joy just isn’t as sweet. I think going through life truly loving the hard times as much as the good times, realigns how you see the world, and it shows you that there’s really no point to a life only worshiping joy, while avoiding sadness with all we’ve got. Without the lows, how can we ever know the highs? Who are we if we close ourselves off the moment sadness hits? What will we miss if we shut down the moment it starts falling apart?”
HIS MANTRA: NAMASTE + SLY
“I have been following Buddhism since I was 12 years old, and Namastè is an extremely important word, and concept in it. Essentially, it means I bow to the divine in you, or I recognize, love, and accept the divine in you that’s also in me. It’s such a beautiful, leveling and equalizing word, that shows that every single person has such magic in them, that deserves to be appreciated and loved. What a brilliant concept in the world we live in today, I think it’s so very needed. ‘Sly’ is a personal and inside word that means a million things to me, that no one knows. It’s a secret I will carry forever, and it means absolutely everything to me.”
Photographs provided by Tyler Knott + Treehouse Photography.