IT’s funny listening to my mom talk about her life. Eighty-six years. And as I listen, I laugh at some of her stories. Some of the others make me sad. But I think what makes me saddest is that so many of her decisions in life were based on fear. Fear of losing something. Fear of not doing the “right” thing. (whatever that means). And according to her, she lived a full life. It’s only when I compare it to what it might have been had she not been afraid that I get truly tearful. Had she done what she really wanted. Had she said what she meant. More often. From her heart and not her head. Had she not been so cautious. Had she taken more chances. And then I realized, the other night, as she was giving me a piece of advice, that I wasn’t sad for her at all. But for me. What she was telling me to do summed up her whole life. And mine, to a certain degree. I politely rejected the advice. But it was like a lightning bolt. And a warning. And if it’s not too late, I’d like to start by living in a place between right and wrong. How can there be fear in a place like that. I think I’ll like it there.
I think I must have been born on a foggy day. My soul is peaceful there. It feels like the one place where the world is larger yet more intimate. Mysterious but safe. And there are no words in the fog. Within the veil. They simply don’t belong. I can hear my breathing, but that’s it. Even my thoughts stay quiet. There is no room for reasoning or whining or conclusions of any kind. Maybe I am born on every foggy day.
I have been having a recurring dream for over a year. Different settings. Same premise. Same ending. And I think I have figured it out. And I think it speaks to my fears more than anything else. If I say I’ve figured it out, can it be done now?
A new day began this morning. Back on the treadmill and this time I pushed through the hurty part to the other side. Past what I set out to do when I got there. Thing is, I get up every morning and I have these expectations. Of moving forward. How ever little… always forward. Progressively. I feel like once I’ve seen a certain truth, passed a certain point, that there should be no going backward from there. But that doesn’t seem to be my experience. Not this time anyway. I take two steps forward. Three back. One forward. Two more forward. One back. Like that game of Chutes and Ladders. I have those days… where my steps are sure and solid. The path is clear. And I have Chute days… where I second guess and lose my balance. And I feel like I have to start over. I’d like a game called Ladders and Ladders. I wouldn’t mind the climb as long as I kept going higher. I need a ladder day. Today.
Letting go. Letting go. Letting go. And for so long, I have thought about it and written about it and thought about it some more. And I thought I had an understanding of why it was necessary. Flow and moving forward and all that. And today there was a new word added to this understanding. HOPE. There isn’t one reason for letting go, there are many. And today, I realized that if I don’t let go, I stay directly attached to something I see as a problem in myself. And by staying connected to that problem, I keep my focus there and after a while I only see the past. Either as good or as bad, depending. But still the past. Letting go, allows the future in. The present in. And that’s where the hope is. HOPE. There is no hope in the past. It’s done. But there can be. Has to be hope in now. And in tomorrow. There has to be. That’s where the changes take place. Dear God, please let me begin to live this.
I started back to the gym two weeks ago. I was told my excuse of “I just had a baby!” had run its course after 16 years. And while I have made a commendable attempt at getting there at least 5 times a week, my efforts once there have been lackluster on a couple of those occasions. I blamed my music. (I can be a blame-shifter). So, it’s time to change the playlist. Really. No point in committing to something and then doing it half-way. I looked at the titles afterward, some of them made me smile.
Mr. Jones/Counting Crows
Let the Drummer Kick/Citizen Cope
Dog Days Are Over/Florence and the Machine
Paradise City/Guns N’ Roses
Time Bomb/Dave Matthews
Dead Man’s Shoes/Virginmarys
Hard Sun/Eddie Vedder
and. so. on.
Now, I have no one to blame but myself on this treadmill.
My life has been full of silences and pause lately. Full of breaths and focusing on the act of breathing. Making home in all the stillness and letting it bring me to new places while still feeling rooted. And in this place between inhaling and exhaling, I began to consider what I wanted to say about my life as if I had already lived it. This was a difficult thing in the beginning. But got easier. And I don’t know details but that was the first thing I thought of… how to be peaceful in the unknown. The place between one dream and the next. How to live those moments and find my purpose in them just as I would in the reality of the dream itself. There is a lot of whispering in this place. Soul-soothing whispering. And heart above head. I know I’ve been here before. It feels familiar. But I’ve always run away too quickly. It might be time to take shelter here for a while. And continue…
I was driving this morning and a song came on the radio that made me think of a really happy time. A time when I felt full and rich and peaceful. And I began to think about how hard I tried to keep that status quo. All my life I have tried to first have those good times, the times in life when you feel safe and comfortable and peaceful, and then I fight to keep things there. And every time. Every time. They begin to go bad. Almost immediately. And I think it’s because I forget that life is a flow. And when it gets blocked, restricted or contained, it can’t continue. In the past I have been the one to build the very dam. And for life to breathe, to flow, it can eek through for a while but eventually has to burst through with force. Because life… will find a way. To live. Maybe this last crisis happened because the changes I was trying to make were still within the same confines. Still backed up behind the dam, and that’s how I’m going to see it. Try to see it. Dynamite was necessary to blow that dam to hell. So life could flow again. Granted, the explosion took some of my limbs, possibly some hearing, my fault for standing too close, but I think the vital stuff will heal. May even be renewed.
I have always loved photographing flowers. All kinds. All stages of life. All angles. Their lines are simple and elegant. Their lives… uninhibited. They open to the light. They receive nourishment and care… without question or reasoning. They simply drink it in. They don’t ponder or consider or rationalize or second-guess. They aren’t distrustful or bothered. They don’t worry. About being loved. About money. Or careers. Or what’s for dinner. They receive. And grow. And bloom. And give back. And while I know Gerbera daisies also don’t have to make a car payment by the 17th, I think they’re onto something.
I had a dream this morning that woke me up. It was early, still dark, and raining, so I stayed there trying to recall as many details as possible. It was a painful dream because it so closely mirrored something going on in my life right now, but the longer I laid there, the more the pain simply turned into reality. Nothing more. And that’s when it hit me… One of my biggest fears, had happened. The reality is still difficult but the fear is gone. I don’t know how long I lived with this fear, but I know it was beginning to change me from who I am to who I am while trying to keep something from happening. And then it happened anyway, maybe even because I was so afraid, and it hurt more than I could imagine anything hurting. Until this morning, when it occurred to me, that I never had to be afraid of it again. It didn’t have to keep me awake. It didn’t have to alter my behavior. I didn’t have to work around it. Because this fear, this very specific fear, had been realized. And I was free of it. And if there is no relief from anything else right now, there is comfort in at least that knowledge.
I’ve been considering my past a lot. Thinking I could decide what memories to keep and what ones to let go of… as if I have a choice. The truth is, they seem to come and go depending on certain triggers, and the only thing I can really “decide” is how I let them affect me and with how much power. The more negative memories I have been deliberately trying to learn from and let drop. But there have been some good ones lately that I have been spending a little more time in. For instance, I made it through my first spinning class yesterday. Yes. ouch. And as I was peddling away, sandwiched between my twenty-something, militarily trained niece and Central Ohio’s version of Lance Armstrong, I was feeling more than a little challenged. Then the music changed. And Shane MacGowan’s voice connected with a strong independent younger spirit called me at twenty-two. I finished the class. All 40 minutes. But only because the last fifteen or so were spent walking around the city of Dublin. I don’t think that’s living in the past really. Just, for a few minutes, in whatever small way, letting my past help me live now.
Almost six years ago I received news about my health that made me stand up and take notice. It wasn’t anything serious and was easily taken care of. But it made me begin to live differently. It was if I’d been sleeping for most of my life and I woke up. I was done sleeping. The only problem was that I wanted to do it all right now. There was an urgency attached to almost everything. It wasn’t about material things. But I wanted to go and to do and I didn’t want to wait. Mind you, I’m not one for instant gratification, but I wasn’t given much patience at birth so this new “can’t wait” thing drove me and those around me right to the edge. Even more poetic, it seems at every turn I have been confronted with someone or some thing that requires… right… an exponential amount of… patience. Hands off, out of my control, unclenched fists, helpless… waiting. Wow, the lessons. And needless to say, I have failed. Over and over. Thankfully, God and the universe have been merciful and blessed me with countless opportunities to try again. Even so, sometimes I can’t help but wish IMpatience was a good thing.
Today, for me, it’s about entering now. Living within now. This moment. And it sounds so simple. I’ve been trying and trying to learn it. But maybe it’s not a learning. Maybe it’s just a doing. And then doing it again. It’s a sanctuary really; the present. And a responsibility…. to breathe deeply…relax and let life be.
The first of a new year and as I put one foot in front of the other, balance has become vital. My aim is to find the center of me. And since I don’t even have the grace to take my first yoga class, this could be a long process. I don’t have the means to eat, pray, and love my way through Bali or buy myself an Italian villa under a Tuscan sun. So, instead of eating gelato in the terra cotta streets of Florence, I put my Pad Thai noodles in a red ceramic bowl and closed my eyes with every bite. Fortunately, my center is within. And once I find it. Align myself with it. I can take it anywhere. Maybe even to yoga class next week.
I spent some time in these images from the last time I was in Acadia Park. Truly one of the most beautiful places on earth and I needed to be in truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Today. I fell immediately into this shot. Mostly, I was captured by how far I went to get it. January. Probably just above zero. Before sunrise. Down in the rocks. Before tide. And then in the tide. Slippery sharp rocks. I came away with cuts and bruises, soaking and cold. And a moment in time I wouldn’t trade. For any other moment. If you’ve never watched the sun rise through ocean spray… I recommend it. Because someday, five years from now, or five days from now, you might need to be there. Again. You might need to remember how far you went just to live one moment.