“Well, there is narcissism in all of us, of course. I mean we are the protagonists of our own lives, so naturally it feels like we’re at the wheel. But we’re not at the wheel. That just happens to be where the window is located” — Jean Marie Korelitz
I’ve been up at the mountain house since Sunday. It’s good to be back, though the first few days without any connectivity to the outside world was a little daunting. No phone service, no Internet. I thought that would be fine – and it was, except when the night encroached and I was reminded that I am a very little, inconsequential person in the great big scheme of things – and the mountains are a fairly imposing backdrop from which to consider this. What serendipity has brought me to this place in time. And yeah, there were occasionally shout-outs imploring the universe to keep me safe. So far, so good.
On some level it appalls me that silence can be unrequited, when it is so necessary and valuable. I’ve been struggling a lot of late with the outline of this next story line in my life (made even more difficult by the fact that I have yet to figure out what I want to be when I grow up). Itchy, out-of-sync, closing off more parts of me to see if I could get to the essence of what I want. The reality is I need this silence right now (though it is good to be able to converse with you again). With all the noise going on in my head, something had to force me to be still.
I have not arrived at any great conclusions, though I feel like I’m on the cusp of…something. And I’m feeling a bit less anxious about not being able to touch it. When you can’t avoid yourself, you have to figure out a way through the mild panic and self-deriding thoughts that circle around as a cyclone. Stepping outside myself to look inside and provide the reassurance that it’s ok. Let life carry me – for that is what it’s going to do anyway. What hubris to think that because I want answers now that I’m supposed to have them. They’re en route – like the spring.
I marvel that the buds on the trees, the flowers, etc are so insistent on blooming regardless of the temperature. They’re straining to burst forth, determined to honor their rightful time in the sun. A part of me wants them to be a bit more self-protective and wait until the temperature proves more accommodating. Another part of me is cheering them on, encouraging them to claim their rightful place. They’re going to bloom, in their time and on their schedule. I am learning a lot from them. The hide-and-seek exercise that transitions us from one season to the next, and the incoming season is always ‘it’. And always wins. So with this thought, I toy with a new season in my soul.
It’s all good. Learning to give myself a break, give myself permission to stare at the clouds, read a book in one sitting, make some tea and just savor. Savor my husband, my children (when they allow me), the cocoon I am ensconced in on top of this very large and imposing mountain. Make music in the silence and write a verse that has yet to be sung.
I’m not the most graceful person – never have been. I can trip over nothing, miss the lip of my coffee cup, bump into a wall – and that’s just walking from one end of the kitchen to the other. Would that these were marketable skills. What I typically balance well though are the variable weights of the thought bubbles in my head. Have you ever stopped to consider how many disconnected thoughts jump around your mind in a five-minute period? Some complete, others rejected. Some stubbornly intractable, others as ephemeral as a breeze. So we go through our days.
Perhaps it’s the disparate qualities of these thoughts that make them manageable. When life events collide, and the thoughts are connected despite the qualities that make them each unique – well, that’s another story…that’s the stuff of which headaches are made. Juggling – it’s not for the faint of heart.
Over the last few days, much has happened that is disparate yet similar. Andy turned sixty. My aunt passed away. Our well temporarily ran out of water – literally.
Sixty is an impressive number. A bit frightening even though the alternative is far scarier. And this generation of ours is making sixty look damn good. My daughter-in-law added a perspective I hadn’t considered – a birthday just makes you one day older than the day before. Well that just means that Andy is 59 plus a few days. And he wears it well. But when he looked at me yesterday and simply said “I’m sixty years old”, I felt the weight of those words. He is surprised naturally – how did we get here? I’m still wondering whether or not he’s going to ask me to go steady.
We also had just come home from the funeral service for my aunt. I hesitate to write too much about her, for as much as I loved her, there are four cousins of mine and six grandchildren who are the rightful authors of her story. She was a vibrant, social, politically passionate spitfire with a great smile. I remember lots of family moments at her house. Her husband and my dad (they were brothers) singing “The Bluebird Of Happiness” before collapsing in tears of laughter. Laughter. That’s it. I remember laughter. I choose to remember laughter. And how loving they were to my children. Her last years were stolen by Alzheimer’s – an unforgiving thief.
And she was the last of my parents’ cohort group. The last of my aunts and uncles. It suggests that my sister, cousins and I are now next in this ineffable path. I find that a difficult thought to hold onto for very long; I want to drop it, so I can pick it up when I’m ready – and yet it feels like it’s covered in Velcro. I’m not ready for all the ramifications of being a grown-up. My hunch is none of us are. I am in love with life and I am angry that it has to end as we know it. My head aches. My heart aches. And the sun rose this morning as it always does.
The well feels a bit dry as you can probably tell. The well guys were here already this morning and needed to swap out a part, advising us to keep the power off for a couple of hours to give the well a chance to refill. It seems like good advice. Sometimes you just have to power down and give it all over. Cry a bit. Accept that there are questions without answers or at least fight them with less vehemence. Let the sun hurt your eyes as it warms your skin. It’s okay.
RadiatingBlossom.wordpress.com posted a poem yesterday which has stayed in my bones. It seems a far better closing thought than anything I could offer.
The Thing Is – Ellen Bass
To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
This video stayed with me. The changing aspect of love’s reality. What we’re sure we define as love when our notebooks are covered with hearts and initials inside them, notes are passed and love songs are written expressly for you. Believing that it lasts forever, when one really has no concept of what that means. Love in later years, with fewer illusions and more complications, yet felt with a deeper understanding of the rapidity with which time passes. Learning to stay in love and learning to let go should one need to. Remembering to keep the door open to the possibility that it will return in a different form, with a different song and open arms. Let love in – however you define it.