I’ve fallen into some lovely and restorative conversations with family and friends over the past weeks of holiday gatherings. Short moments of connection, emerging here and there in the corner of a living room or while putting dishes into the dishwasher; usually, these conversational gems squeak into the space just after one person involved checks the oven contents, and just before the other is called to attend to a diaper or overly-raucous big kid play. Sometimes they’re via text back-and-forth when plans for face-to-face time are hijacked by the virus of the day. They’re quick, precious, and far more filling than all the mashed potatoes and ham around.
What I kept returning to, as I gathered those quick conversations into my heart, is this: we are all in transition.The richness, unpredictability, and beauty of life spans all generations and styles and stages. There is no such thing as settled, no such thing as truly stable. Some eras of life are very headstrong about this – no denying that the young family phase, for example, or the end-of-life phase is going to slam you hard with this awareness. Make plans, sure, and decide how you’d like things to go, but you won’t be allowed to forget: everything is always in between, in flux, on the edge of change (or, more acurately, in process whether you realize it or not).
Other life eras are more deceptively calm. Maybe you’ve lived a fairly routine life for years now, or had the same job for a decade (or more), or become used to and identified with whatever hats you currently wear – but it’s as challenging or more so to stay aware and live with intention when you can rest in the illusion of solidity.
There are so many things I can see on the horizon for me, individually, and for my family; in many ways, I’m feeling more settled than I have in ages. In others, I can feel things beginning to tighten around me (or us) – it’s getting to be time to shed a layer, and that can make me terribly impatient or terribly afraid.
The minute something feels uncomfortably snug (say, a current job or the state of your health or living circumstances), I think we have one of two impulses: make a dramatic leap to just end the discomfort already, or cling to that layer for dear life because it’s where you keep all your most familiar hats.
You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m working on option C. I’m inspired by family and friends wading through complex times in life, braving the in between – sometimes failing miserably, yes, but more often than not doing a breathtaking and skillful dance of ebb-and-flow. They’re trying their best to move forward in a way that feels good and true, while breathing through the itchy discomfort of allowing change time to unfold.
I think that’s where our grace lies: learning to open and propel ourselves forward when we are fearful, trusting our breath and our gut to guide us to what we need to do, and simultaneously allowing this mysterious world we live in to make it all happen in perfect time.
May we be filled with Trust in the Absolute Goodness of the Earth (thanks, A.W.)
May we have the courage to stay awake and aware of what needs to happen, whether that’s letting go of plans and agenda, or finding the tenacity to make some plans and get moving.
May we have the grace to lean on each other, one snippet of heart-felt conversation at a time, and remember that no one (really) is truly stable or pulled-together.
May we follow our gut, collectively and individually making decisions for the most grace-filled outcome, and surrendering the tightness that comes when we try too hard to engineer life.
May we inhabit our bodies, every muscle, bone and cell, and thereby inhabit our worlds and experience our days with confidence and conviction.
Be well! Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!