Last week went by so quickly, I can’t believe it’s Saturday already. What happened? Where am I? I feel like a leaf that is dropped in a raging river. Time carries me. I struggle to comprehend where I am in relation to myself. The tree that I fell from is home. This river is not. I feel like I don’t belong here. Where am I?
While struggling atop the crazy, rapid waters, I realize that my life is missing its center. I need to schedule time for solitude, prayer, time to think. To do so feels like I’d have to swim against the current. I often stop before I begin. It’s an idea that kills itself because I allow it out of confinement. This is too much responsibility. Easier to feel adrift that to grab a twig and start rowing.
Chaos feels familiar. It is what I see but what I see is limited by my clinging to a perspective that is not serving me. Fatigue and confusion wash over me like water. I sink. There under the water I look up at the chaos above. The edges of chaos are soft. The water in my ears muffs the sounds. I could get used to this.
Tears spring to my eyes when I realize that my reaction, my perspective is what is causing me pain. My life is full and busy. My days often productive but I take little satisfaction. I’m too busy seeing all that is not, all that I am not. It tries to choke the joy out of my life. I’m not a squirrel in a cage racing around a wheel but I’ve felt like one. I’m a flamboyant dancer whose heart and soul is lost in the dance if only I shift my perspective.
Why is this so hard? Why do I cling to all the things that aren’t working? Why am I so stubborn? Why is a life of joy so suspect?
In a moment of clarity, I see that so many people and structures in life work against joy. Happiness, satisfaction is a choice. Every day, countless times a day, I stand at a crossroads. I can choose which path I take: abundance or scarcity, joy or sorrow, anger or empathy, fear or courage. I know where I am. I hear the music and I begin to dance.
Hurtling down the freeway between two points in space and time, my life passes me. I wave after it longingly. Life is too fast.
I look for analogies, for ways to create meaning out of something that feels complicated and confusing. This confusion frightens and captivates me. It is something that pokes through my dreams and shakes me away in the middle of the night. I am desperate to create order out of what feels like chaos. A tightness creeps across my chest and squeezes. I sigh, filling my lungs with air as if air is time and there will never be enough. I gasp and then quickly smile. My panic must be kept secret. It is private and I have staked my claim to it. I do not want to share.
An image presses down on me as I concentrate on my breathing. In and out, holding it for just a second or two before releasing the air that is also time. In between the breaths I see myself. I am a tiny fishing vessel caught in the wave of a tsunami. The shore looms large, then larger still. I close my eyes and see my fragile vessel turn to matchsticks as I am battered against the houses and cars and places of business that once sat tall and proud, a quiet seaside village. Now I am only splinters. Thousands of splinters sucked back out to sea. I am not in charge here. My will can not hold back the water, the wave, or time. I am cast out upon the waters. I am thousands of pieces and I am one.
Looking up at the sky, I see the beauty of the clouds. The sky is a bit like the sea. It hugs the horizon with the same sure grip, two old friends shaking hands. There is no separating the sea and the sky. The sky and the sea wear many faces. No two days are ever the same. Each moment in time, each sea, each corner of sky, unique passing into obscurity the moment after. Can I expect anything different than the fate of sea and sky?
“Yes,” the sky whispers.
It plays with light and sends me a rainbow as a sign. It is not an arch but a small, singular ribbon of light. No beginning. No end.
“You are more rainbow, than boat. You are more wave than vessel.” This is what the sky tells me.
Turning my face toward it, I silently reply, “I love it when you whisper sweet nothings in my head.”
Hollow. It’s how I feel as I begin my walk. I decide that it isn’t a bad feeling. It means that I can be filled. I leave the emptiness alone and note that my legs seem to be at odds with my torso. My body struggles to find a rhythm. I decide to concentrate on something else. I note the rhythm of my breathing. My legs have almost caught up. Feet still complain but in the rhythm there is comfort.
Words slip in and out, through and around. I don’t hang on to any of them. I reach my midway point and smoothly u-turn. I note the tall, magenta-colored flowers. Their graceful spikes puncture the landscape. Then, there on the trail, I spot the wild thing. It is a small wild rabbit. I slow to avoid frightening it. She lets me get within 8 feet before she bounds off in the bushes. I’ve often walked this trail but have yet to find a bunny sitting out in the open waiting for me.
Sleep clings to me when I awake. Life is soft and fuzzy around the edges. I am really hungry. My husband makes breakfast. It tastes better than usual. Will the rest of my day taste this good?
The end of yesterday found me tired and discouraged. Fatigue was influencing my thoughts. It tampered with my dreams.
The memory of the dreams is a confusing jumble. I take them with me as I walk. Pieces of dreams float in my head as I mark the miles on the trail. I walk as if I’m in a hurry. I have a goal, a destination. I am determined to arrive.
After my walk, I shower. The dreams return and flow around me like water. What do they mean?
Two answers suddenly pop into my head.
1.) Things are not what they seem.
2.) You are putting unnatural roadblocks in your path.
Straight forward, clear, these two sentences match what I know in my deepest self. They are precisely what I needed to hear as I begin a day, a beautiful sunny day. The day stretches before me with promise. I commit to living it, enjoying it, celebrating it. I will remember that “things are not always what they seem” and “I am putting unnatural roadblocks in my path.”
On the floor next to me, our dog naps in the sun. She soaks up the warmth and light naturally, peacefully. She shows me how it’s done, this listening to the day, the light and the sun.
The day, the dreams, and the dog speak to me. I listen.
(Listening to Spotify as I write, this song by Lady Antebellum “Run to you” was given to me with perfect timing! I insert “walk” when they sing, “run”. It’s more my style.)
Hearing the call, I ignored it. My day was too busy, too full. I was too tired. My back ached. My knees or hip hurt. It was raining. It was too hot. A body at rest stays at rest. . and I did.
“Get up and walk”
I felt crippled by circumstance. I wasn’t in charge of my own life. I gave my power away. I had nothing left but none of that was really true. I wanted excuses.
“Get up and walk.”
Summer lies before me, pure gift. No more excuses. I have the time. I am in charge. It’s up to me to rise to the occasion. I set the alarm. I wake before it goes off. I tell myself, “Today is a good day.”
Father’s Day. Tears suddenly well in the corners of my eyes. At first, I don’t know why. Later, I realize that I miss my dad.
Dad wasn’t always an easy man to love. He had a temper and lacked the tools to learn how to deal with his feelings without alienating those closest to him. Religion became an end unto itself. His theology and philosophy of life was a dogmatic black and white. In that certainty he often found comfort and meaning. It hurt when he refused to walk me down the aisle at my non-Catholic wedding but it was not a surprise. He was a man of conviction. I didn’t always like it but I did respect it and ultimately him. He was doing the best he knew how. To entertain alternatives was not his style. If that made him sometimes harsh and unfair, it also kept him a man who strove to live from within the heart of his ideals.
In my large family, I believe I was my dad’s favorite especially when I was young. As a young child, the world rose and set in him. I sought him out. He brought a passion to life that was infectious. He taught me about big band and classic films. He loved music and often wrote melodies and lyrics of his own. He never really believed in himself or in his talents and abilities. He stopped pursuing his dreams and focused on his failures.
I have always envied those who wake up eager to meet the new day. There have been days when I awake with a feeling of dread at having to rise to the challenges of another day. I’m not proud of that but it is the truth.
This morning was different. It is not a perfect morning. I have many miles to go before I sleep. I have a lot of responsibilities and commitments. I have promises to keep. I have chores to do and things that I would rather not do but this is my new day, a gift.
The clock next to me stares at me with large red numbers. It’s not even 7 a.m. and it’s a Saturday. My back tells me that going back to sleep isn’t possible. My feet touch the floor and I head for the bathroom. My feet are steady and sure. This is new. Normally, I shuffle like a zombie. My arms half extended to brace myself again something should I happen to fall. This morning, I know I will not fall.
As I shower, I remember the heavy hearts of those around me. Yesterday was hard for them. Each was challenged in their own way. I remember my own challenges. I sort through my thoughts and feelings and see something new, something that I had not acknowledged before. My thoughts are not light but my spirit is. I see the difference between the two and am grateful. This is a good day and it feels good.
Breakfast and coffee tastes wonderful. Quickly, I delete old e-mails and move on to the next task. I decide to write and grab my camera to take this picture of my perfectly-less-than-perfect morning that still feels great. I aim at the sun wondering if it will show up in the photo. It’s there surrounded by a hazy, light gray sky. The light and moisture work together and form a faint halo around the sun. Light is sacred. It deserves a halo.
This is a perfectly-less-than-perfect day. It is all gift.
Heard this on the radio this morning. Have to share it here. It made me feel more alive!
The lyrics are taken from a famous essay — written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune — which gives some amazing advice for life, thoroughly recommend everyone to watch this!
If blank stares from expressionless faces could kill, I’d have been dead Thursday morning. The “I-Hate-Math” group was doing some great work perfecting their death-ray stare. After trying unsuccessfully to pitch the math-can-be-fun idea, I gave up and just tried to connect with them on a human level. In order to do so I asked one of my famous questions:
“If you could have any job in the world, possible or impossible what would it be?”
This was a question even the I-Hate-Math group couldn’t resist. They seem to forget how annoying I had been and got busy thinking up an answer. When it was my turn to share and you know I had to share on a question as wonderful as this one, I said that my dream job would be that of fairy godmother.
I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.