Progress doesn’t always feel like progress… it rarely comes in leaps and bounds, though at times it goes skipping and is usually found on indirect, untrodden paths. Sometimes, a lot of times, it’s all most of us can do to keep putting one foot in front of the other, yet inevitably, eventually, we look up and turn around and realize we’re not where we were anymore; the ground feels different beneath our feet, the climate, the people, the situations and surroundings have changed.
It’s the silent slip between season to season, when you blink after your first month parenting and your newborn is suddenly sprouting teeth, saying your name and taking first steps, then starting school, and then losing those teeth that seemed to have just sprouted only days before, skinned knees and blooming soul. It’s what happened when my child was rocking in my arms nursing one day, then rocking in my arms never to move again the next- and before I’ve known, and far beyond when I’d ever chosen it, the feeling of that weight in my lap has become less familiar than the weight of the emptiness that’s slowly taken over it’s place.
And I hate it. I want to claw at time itself and pull that feeling back to me, then pull even harder and put all that distance behind me for a moment until I can reach one of the Neverland moments of the cool, downy feel of his hair on my cheek, the warm, salty-sweet scent of awakening from his milk-drunk sleep, the way my finger and thumb would wrap around his delicious thigh as the other wrapped around his head, swaying in quiet rest, heart to heart in peaceful resolve. Those moments in time, like all others, only last for exactly that long before another child comes crashing in, before the phone rings and I’m late for an appointment but just couldn’t wake him because gawd, I’m so tired and he hasn’t napped properly in days.
They’re just moments. That’s all we get.
And somehow, the moments stack up with each step and become memories, and the places we’ve set our path become our past. I’ve found that time flies by particularly quickly during the times it feels like I’ve just got to keep my head down and focus on each step- like the first year of parenting or when I moved across the country, when I began school again, when I’ve experienced loss or any other big life changes… My instinct, and I have a feeling that of many others’, tends to be to fold inward and watch my footing as a trip along an unsure path I’ve been thrust upon… I forget to look up, and when I finally do, things have changed- and I have, too.
The thing is that all those exhausted moments, all those times things don’t go right and I’ve had to hit another learning curve full speed, those times I’ve felt my heavy head and heart is too weary to go on- that’s when I need to take the sign that I’ve been down too long and when I need to look up the most. I need to see the trees growing every which way toward the sun, to see and reach out to my friends who have been caught in their own paths and need the reconnection as much as I do- but someone has to make the move.
So, friend, my white flag is up. I’ve been down too long, and I’m making a concentrated effort lately to look up, to look out beyond my path. I’ve made a point these past few weeks and even months to come out of my grief bubble, to see old friends and even make new ones. It’s terrifying and vulnerable to come from a huddled, protected crawl to standing up straight and looking another in the eye, let me tell you. Everything I’ve been holding close comes into plain view… but I have to remember that if they stand to meet my gaze, their wounds and their baggage are visible, too- and we are given the gift of being able to recognize ourselves and each other for what, who and where we are. When we look around, we can see that everyone around us is carrying baggage of different weights, shapes and sizes, too- everyone is healing from wounds fresh and old, alike. More than anything, we can realize we are not alone, and not the only ones who are just trying to keep our heads down and push through.
With the passing of Robin Williams yesterday, it becomes a bit more tangible that the happiest seeming people may in fact, be the saddest, that even those who seem impenetrable to fear and heartache are those most affected by it- people whom would never have you know their pain. So I’m standing here, wounds, scars, baggage and all, with and for you, friend. I’m hurting and I’m struggling, and I’m here. I’m taking a moment to look up from my current life and dilemmas to tell you that I hear you, I see you, I read all of your comments and messages, and they nearly always come at times when I seem to be the most down. They come far less than you’d imagine and help more than you know- and hopefully, this one helps you.
I see you struggling, I see you uncertain and afraid. I see you bruised and weary, swollen in heart, head and eyes from the worry and the hurting and the effort- and I feel you, I do. I’ve been there, and I’m here- and trust me, I’m no more capable or equipped than you, perhaps just more practiced. From where I stand, knee-deep in sorrow and struggle, I encourage you to, even if just for one of your precious, fleeting moments, let go. Get outside and feel the sun, the wind, the air on your skin and just be.
When your heart feels too full, friend, share it. Open it. Give some away. Let that pain, that love, that messy, juicy life spill the fuck all over the place, dance in the mess you’ve made and invite others to join the party. I’d love to come! Stretch marks are a roadmap of all the places we’ve grown, scar tissue marks from the places we’ve been hurt but now have thicker skin. There is no one in all the world who thinks, feels and moves the way you do. You’re irreplaceable. You are loved, you are worthy, you are beautiful and perfect, right here in this moment. Just in case no one’s reminded you lately.
So today, a cloudy, cool Tuesday in California, no special day, date or reason but that you have the ability, I encourage you to look up from your life. Call an old friend, go for a walk, get out of your routine and play with your kids. Say thank you to those that have helped and are helping you along the way (Amy, Chris, Casey, Amber, Adriel, Jes and so many more lately, for me…) and pay it forward to those you see how to be helpful toward. Be grateful for your health and that of your children and loved ones, for friends, for family, for knowing that for better or worse, in the words of my Grammy and in it’s own time, “This too, shall pass.”
All of it.