When you don’t do something for awhile, it can seem unfamiliar and the starting point anything but obvious. So, somewhat recently on Live & Learn, when David shared three lines of a poem in the midst of one of his posts, it stopped me in my tracks. Not just because the words were just spot on truth for me. Not just because I found myself wishing that I had been the one to assemble them in the way the author had so eloquently (and seemingly so effortlessly) done. But because those three lines capture what had been elusive to me: what I needed to get this post started.
The three lines by poet John O’Donohue posted on this blog read like this…
Unknown to us, there are moments
When crevices we cannot see open
For time to come alive with beginning
and reminded me that much as we try, we can’t know what is to come.
In months that have somehow managed to have sped by, under the hood has been an ongoing process. An examination of not my conscience, but rather my very consciousness and a riotous path of change and growth. Big things have ended, little things have cropped up and simmered right back down and all along there has been an eyes-wide-open-deer-in-the-headlights-bring-it stance on it all. I like to think of it as beginner’s mind, which for me is any time we find ourselves in some degree of both amazement and trepidation – and often, dogged determination – in some kind of new or changing time. But beginner’s mind cannot last forever, for eventually a beginning moves to somewhere in the middle. Yes?
There is the saying that all good things come to an end.
I think perhaps that is not always true.
And, on the contrary, it can actually get better.
However we slice it, in review, it might help for you to know that as I cast my glance in the rear view mirror, I see a marriage that ended, and necessarily so; and subsequently I see a rift in a family for a young and yet so wise and resilient young boy; I see a move to where less truly became more in ways so unexpected and a brand of co-parenting of which I am proud of for my son. I see professional hurdles and challenges and just a whole lot of unpleasantness that are best described as hanging on tightly to a ship’s mast out on a stormy sea. I see a bank account that some days had more question marks than dollar signs.
But in the midst of all of that: endings, upsets and so many unknowns, there has also been grace and goodness, and so much understanding and without question, many unanticipated lessons.
I have navigated these last few years, with my kiddo and I, bolstered of course by our magical friends and family, in an intentional and optimistic way. I found a way to go at it at my own pace and in my own way. I wanted to – I had to – go through the pain, not around the pain. I wanted to understand, and to admit where the wrong turn(s?) have been made and why. So, the kiddo and I, we have laughed, we have logged miles, we have sat side by side on the couch checking off episodes of our favorite TV shows. We created our signature ‘funk-food-dinner-and-movie nights‘ (sometimes, mama’s in a funk and can’t find her way around the kitchen…). And, we have done our own thing – he with his friends, me with mine. Sometimes that happens all together. I dipped my toe in the dating pool. Murky waters I tell you. But that is another story for another day. Or not.
With this in mind, almost exactly a year ago, I took a few days away to reset, and continue this re-evaluation. I went up to the mountains, a place that I consider a second home. I spent nearly a week: I went driving around the entire lake, hiking, sitting, walking, and chasing sunsets. And thinking. A lot. And learning. For example, one night the power went out. All of it. Guess what I learned? That I really am a little bit afraid of the dark! Who knew!?
I learned something else equally important.
On my last day there, I positioned myself at a stunning location facing west and since the summer rush had subsided, the beach was nearly left just for me. And my glass of wine.
I sat in wait and I was not disappointed. The sunset was literally spectacular. And slow. And evolving.
Like we are.
I savored each moment as the sun performed right in front of me.
As the sun sank lower and lower, and aware that I had parked somewhat far away, I – so reluctantly – left in time to get to my car before darkness set in fully (I’d already completed my Intro to Darkness course, successfully, I might add). I walked along, hopping over some boulders, looking back to catch every last possible glimpse. I wanted that image printed in me as much as in my camera’s SD card.
We all see sunsets, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Right? The sun sets every day. It has to.
I thought I’d seen the last of it, but the sunset had changed once again.
It was like it had one more act, an encore perhaps?
I found myself smiling, relaxed and leaning up against a railing on the boat launch and muttering to myself, ‘it just keeps getting better’. And then, I thought to myself, huh, and nodding, and thinking, realizing…
…it’s all going to be ok. It just keeps getting better…
I was smiling.
I’m not going to lie.
The last few years have been enlightening, maybe you could even say “exhilarating” at times. But not easy.
But, I realized what I was saying. Out loud.
As I heard myself, I smiled bigger as I realized, yes, it does. It just keeps getting better.
It’s true. There have been moments unbeknownst to me where things were at play and I had no idea.
My kiddo is doing awesome. He continues to teach me and surprise me. His resilience is not just comforting; it’s affirming. At work we have a new captain of the ship and while you cannot turn a ship on a dime, it seems the seas have calmed and we are headed in a better direction; I am excited to be starting a new academic year, energized and maybe somewhat overwhelmed, but excited.
Colleagues have said to me, “I’m so glad you hung in there…”
And, I met someone. Someone most special. In the most unexpected of places.
People keep telling me, “You look so happy, it’s good to see you smiling again…”
It just keeps getting better.
Kiddo and I mixed it up this summer and instead of hitting the road, we jetted off through the friendly skies to enjoy our annual summer trip. Let’s just say, it was monumental.
So lessons learned: Don’t get stuck in the dark. And it can definitely get better. Sometimes we just to have to trust the wisdom penned by John O’Donohue.
And a ps…to the ‘nudgers’, you know exactly who you are, and thank you. You have no idea…