Tonight I celebrate my mother’s would be 90th birthday. Yes, I know she’s gone, although a force like hers can’t be contained in a simple afterlife, right? Of course I’m sad not to have her physically with us, but wow, did we have spectacular fun these last many decades. Holidays and vacations and just spur of the minute plans that would always turn into something fabulous.
It really isn’t because I’m reading Claire Dederer’s latest memoir, Love and Trouble, but I must admit, she’s gotten me thinking. About how I wished I wrote with her daring pen. About all those crazy-ass years when I was running straight into the black, and these slightly more stable years, when some of that crazy is boomeranging back. But it isn’t totally that either, it’s my job and the demands that are clear insanity but you can’t actually admit to it because it’s your job after all and you need to keep it a few more years; it’s the guy in the White House who I can’t bring myself to call president or give his title a capital letter but still, you know he’s there and the whole world is acting like he didn’t in fact steal the election but somehow might be qualified even though he’s the very definition of shit show; it’s about summer’s abrupt end and my love of drinking a tad too much rosé, okay my addiction that hasn’t stopped even though I know better and one should stop drinking Summer’s Water; but ultimately it’s about racing and racing every day ahead of just about every deadline so that I can feel like I have it together but know I don’t. Yeah, today, it’s all of that.
As June melts into July, and we settle into yet another new home, there is plenty to fracture and divide our time from our desire. There is unpacking and all those decisions of where to hang this mother’s portrait or that Bowie painting. There are boxes of cleaning supplies that look too much like work, so I vote to banish them to the cellar while she might actually want to use them. There’s me wandering on the front lawn in my bathrobe to catch the early light and getting sidetracked by raindrops on broad leaves instead of finding the lid to the pot still stuck in a box somewhere. Me wandering. Finally, I’d add. Stop the lists of to-do’s for a single moment and feel dewy grass.
A few years ago I wrote about graduates. In the ensuing years I thought that was all I ever wanted to say about that topic, that edge of time, that walking off process, that bravery. Until now. Because as wonderful as the notion of moving on is, it is also terrifying. Often impossible. Sometimes only accomplished by crawling. And stopping. And being nudged until you crawl forward again. As we applaud those who boldly walk and do so with ease, there are many who can not. Theirs is a walk of anxiety and missteps. Of not showing up. Of hanging back. Of not joining in. Of fearing what lies ahead far more than driving on. Their achievements seem to pale in those celebratory moments. What of them? I wondered as I sat in the packed gymnasium filled with graduates and their families.
As much as I want to start every morning ready to face whatever comes my way, there are those days that knock me down, saw off my legs, and leave me to crawl through the mire; those days I curse change, especially unasked for ch-ch-ch-changes, and feel stuck. Helpless. During those moments I wrestle desperately with myself. You know that feeling? It’s two steps forward and one back, until you are either worn down by the whole affair, or you move yourself into the light.
After a few tough years questioning heaven with a WHY ME, I am turning my awareness back to the earth to cultivate gratitude for the bounty I live within. Fresh air and water, abundance of love, with opportunity to grow and learn in multiple directions. Gifts. Sometimes it takes a bit of slowing down to notice what is right in front of our cloudy vision, but as we do the veil lifts just enough so the world appears wondrous. This is a lesson many garner with grace and ease, but I’ve come kicking toward these fine appreciations. I’m an immediate type of gal, as in I want what I want immediately. Like Spring. Or unions of sorts. Now. This day. And in that racy bustle I often ignore what has presented itself. Those presents appearing daily. Like sunlight making itself faintly felt despite the cloud cover. While I swim children’s laughter breaking through the routine. A fat crow on a bare branch facing the stiff wind outside my window. A friend letting me know a fabulous new plan, and yes, she wants me in on it. A upcoming luncheon date with an elderly Aunt who will sound, perhaps just for a few seconds, like my mother. Jasmine. Period. Everything about this sublime fragrance graciously filling your every breath is a magical gift. People who I hardly know who rise early and say, text me when you wake up and we can hike. Food. Fresh and local and organically grown in small farms. Glorious combinations of flavors exploding into savory delight. All of it. The glass is always more than half full. It’s overflowing. What will it take for you to see?
Lately, life has been in winter lock-down under a permanent cloud cover. And yes, this visual metaphor speaks loudly for all that has transpired this past week. How will we survive? Clueless actually, but still, my way is this: create some healthy routines. Those Sunday to Saturday, day to day rituals, that cause you to exhale and remember your center; whatever those activities are, you need to foster and maintain a few. Hold on to those when you feel tempest-tossed.