“Don’t try to figure what people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.” – Barbara Kingsolver
As I approach the milestone age of 50 this year, a lot has changed in my life. How I envision it, what I expect from it and especially what I desire from myself and others. If life is a river that flows I have been the rock that sets on the bank endlessly being hit by the force of water. Each day and year that passes has undoubtedly shaped me, changed me and even reinvented me over the years.
There is no way that I could look the same as the day I began. I mean, who’s to say when I did begin this journey, taking note of my inner voice and what he was so desperately trying to tell me ? I can only recollect one day recognizing something different was happening to me on the inside, the moment various factors I once easily ignored in life suddenly became relevant and important for me to take note of. Like the first time simpler things, like sitting in the park to touch and feel the grass, driving to the ocean just to hear the waves pound against the shore or taking a walk on a trail to observe nature, begin to matter more than they ever had before, but was this the first time? Probably not, but it was the first time that I became aware of it.
I cannot neglect the fact that this awakening, as most do occur, happened during the darkest seasons of my life. My visits to the park, trail walking and trips to the ocean were all due to the lack of peace that existed in my heart. I was lost and realized the answers I needed to discover did not live in my everyday experiences, as much as I thought they had.
Back then, several years ago, life was a routine for me. I knew what to do and what was expected of me on each new day. I delivered with the greatest of ease, which lacked any forethought, creativity or meaningful passion. I mastered the routine with flying colors. I lived and flourished (at least in my head) with a certain level of control and certainty of what was to occur tomorrow. That is until I no longer did or could.
As that river flows, life’s happens. Unexpected circumstances occur, things change and the pressure has a way of hitting you square in the face, whether you are prepared for it or not.
Almost 10 years ago, the absolute best massage therapist (thank you Shannon) I ever had gave me a small plaque that simply said, “Life changes everything”. After several years of this quote living on my nightstand, I slowly begin to digest the real meaning of the words. My life was indeed changing before my eyes. I had just separated from my first wife. I begin to feel the water (life) hitting the rock (me) and at first I was in shock. The pain was real, the process of metamorphism was in full fledge, and I was not ready for it. I wanted what was comfortable, control and certainty, but that was no longer to be found.
That rock (me) was suddenly thrusted into the deepest part of the river. Flooded with all the emotions of being alone, in doubt and in anticipation of the worst things happening. And they did happen. Those worse things that is. I lost a part of myself, my sanity was questionable (at least to me) and keeping it together was simply waking up each day.
So I did wake up each day, uncertain and uncomfortable, yet I still did and that part of me that was lost is still no longer here. Every once in while he attempts to peak his head out and make an announcement based on the fear that once propelled him to the forefront of my life, but now I know how to squelch his voice.
I don’t need to have all the answers as I once thought I did. I don’t have to own all of the problems of world, just my own. Sometimes my nod and smile is enough. I am not your counselor today. I am just Henry, and I think I will go sit in the park, take a drive to the ocean or take a walk on a trail and remind myself of what really matters. What will you do?