Present Tense

The winter of my discontent…

barn

This has been a particularly brutal winter and seeing as how it’s our first in this location, we didn’t quite know what to expect.

We figured that since we’d spent the last 14 years in the foothills and mountains of Colorado, there was nothing that northern Michigan could throw at us that we couldn’t handle.

We didn’t anticipate the worst winter in many years; a potential record-setter for misery.   Looks like we’re getting a taste of the old ‘worst case scenario’ right off the bat.

So, as I was looking out at what seems like the 1000th day in a row of snow, I started imagining what it would be like if I could strap into a time machine.  And the question arose:  would I go forward…or backward?

I’ve never been a live-in-the-past, go backward kind of person.  Oh, I have fond memories and I do admit that I’ve found myself longing to return to the college dorm for a few months of irresponsible nonsense, but overall, I tend to look ahead.

But, ‘ahead’ seems murkier than usual.  I’m not sure if it’s age or my still weakened mojo or some regrets that are leaking like a puddle, under my door of confidence.  It could be the weather and the cabin fever that my husband and I are suffering from.  Or maybe the lack of sunlight, which doesn’t seem like such a big deal until you experience it.

I guess what I’m admitting to is a desire to go back in time.  A year, two years…15 years, even.  There are things that I wish I could change or re-think or just do-over.  It’s entirely non-productive, but I can’t quite shake it.

The thing is, there is no way of knowing if a different decision or path or reaction would have resulted in a better outcome.  As one of my favorite Taoist proverbs teaches us, “Who’s to say what’s right or wrong; who’s to say what’s good or bad?”  We are faced with choices, every second of every day and we make them.  Period.  But still…what if, right?

So, let’s remember that we can only deal with right now; with this particular moment.  I can count on spring arriving sometime in the next few months.  Followed by summer, with its glorious warmth and sun and water.  The things we moved here for.

Then autumn and harvest arrive, bringing beauty so intense that you want to cry every time you crest a hill or turn a corner.  Then, winter returns and it’s time to go inside; time to re-new and reassess and nest and hunker down.  We need this time to re-connect with ourselves, for better or for worse.

After my dog Chili died this past October, a friend came over with a whole box full of spring bulbs to plant on her grave.  I was so grateful, but in so much pain, that I sleep-walked through the process.  We planted and covered the bulbs, as I had covered her little body and soul.  My friend could look ahead when I could not.

Those bulbs are resting under nearly 3 feet of snow, but in a few months, they will emerge in stages.  Crocus first, followed by daffodils and tulips.  A reminder that no matter how badly we want to go back, we can’t.  There is a rhythm and a familiar cycle, but it’s always propelling us forward and onward.

And so, here I am.  Right in the middle of the season that forces us to go inward; to rest and renew and struggle and squirm and wait.  So, there is the lesson.  Don’t struggle; don’t wait.  No past, no future, just now.  Ugh…so hard.

That first crocus will be a welcome sight and a reminder that we need periods of rest and death and destruction, in order for the new blooms to appear.  After this particular winter, I should sprout something magnificent when the time is right.

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

It’s like gum on your shoe….

We’ve been in our new home in Michigan for about 6 weeks now and I love it. Love it.  Everything about it.

It’s weird because I dreaded leaving our house in Colorado.  I adored that house and even though I was ready to move to our new life, I was clinging to that house right up until the very last minute.  In fact, as I did my final walk-through, I sat down on the toilet in our master bath and bawled my eyes out.

Now that it’s in the rear view mirror, I have some thoughts on that whole clinging thing.  It’s a beautiful house.  We designed it from the ground up.  We made every decision right down to the drip edge and the door knobs.  It was mine.  It represented my success.  A beautiful custom-built, mountain home in a beautiful setting, close to a ski resort.  My American dream.  Hard to let go of that kind of symbol.

The funny thing is, I haven’t thought about that house once in the last 6 weeks.  Haven’t missed it for one second.  How can that be, when I was in such pain when I had to leave it?

Here’s what it teaches me:  letting go is the key to happiness.  Think of all of the stuff that we cling to; that we can’t imagine giving up or leaving or changing.  The stuff we hold onto is endless.  It’s hard to imagine a life without booze/job/lover/house/destructive and unhealthy habits/income/lifestyle/church/TV and the list goes on and on.

It’s like walking around with something clinging to the bottom of your shoe.  That irritating feeling when you get gum on your shoe and it sort of sticks with every other step.  You’re constantly looking down, scuffing along, trying to get that goddamned gum OFF YOUR SHOE.  That’s how clinging feels.  Distracting, annoying, nagging, sticky.

Make the change, walk away, scrape that shit off your shoe and guess what?  Life goes on. Every time I’ve made a major change in my life, it was scary and overwhelming and produced “what the hell am I thinking” nightmares, but it’s always turned out fine.  No, it’s turned out great.  I’ve grown and learned and adapted and morphed and evolved.  And I always ask myself, “What took so long?”.

Change isn’t all that scary.  It’s the thought and the planning and the worrying about change that creeps us out.  Think about something that you knew you COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT and now you do.  It could be a person or a material possession or a home or a job or an addiction.  You can live without it.  In fact, you will thrive.  You will grow.

If you’re in a situation where you’re squatting between what is and what will be, project 6 months forward and envision your life.  You’ll see that all of this is behind you and you’re in your new place on your new path.  Feel good?

It is good. You’ll love it. Change isn’t scary.  Change is life.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

   

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