One of the things John Henry received from Santa in December was a spruced up bedroom. We’ve always treated his space as not only his space but also as a makeshift classroom when we needed to. We did that a lot last year since we did a lot of homeschooling, so I wanted to freshen it up for him — to make it as comfy and cozy and, yes, as tweenish as possible. A shag rug, a Papasan chair that swivels, some of his latest artwork framed and hung on the wall and, just like that, he matured from a little boy to a tween. I felt the bel hevi in my gut as I stood in the doorway and surveyed it all on the eve of his arrival for the holidays — and remembered that he is almost as tall as I am. I don’t have a little boy anymore.
As much as it hurts me, it thrills me. This is what’s supposed to happen.
Change is evidence that there is life, and at least minimally, forward motion, but it makes us nervous. Uncertainty about what’s coming is unsettling. But with every breath we take, we are advancing, developing, transforming, and becoming new. What a freeing thought. When I can get comfortable with it, I use it to balance the fear that faces me every morning I put my feet on the floor. What will the day bring? Will I do okay with it all? Can’t I just stay right here where I’m safe? When I remember that nothing is fixed, that I will be a different person when my head hits the pillow that night, I can more humorously and compassionately observe myself reacting to everything as if it is immovable and remind myself to work on letting life itself transform from an experience I often see as solid to one that has a natural flow. And that’s exciting. That’s also a gift — every moment presents an opportunity.
It also presents life itself. Though most of us are uncomfortable with change, we can’t live without it. But — how do I deal with the pain that is delivered to me because I have a tendency to cling to what I have right now? I Imagine if I treated my breath that way. What if I held onto every bit of air that fills my lungs for as long as I could? What if I feared letting it go either because I thought another one wouldn’t come or because I was terrified of what the next one would bring? I’d be gasping for breath all day long, every single day. Just as I have to let my son grow and even celebrate that he is doing so and will never stop until the day he dies, I have to keep trying to learn how to let go of each breath as easily as it came to me, happily bid it adieu, and welcome each new one even though my allotted supply is unknown to me. I don’t know how many I have left. Each one could be the last one. And even in that moment, I will still be changing.
Pain ends. So does happiness. So do situations, and what I’ve realized is, everything is a situation. The only thing that doesn’t end is the joy we all have the power to manifest everyday, all the time. All else is like a wave — coming in, going out, just like the breath. If I welcomed that and allowed these furiously flying by days to be as alive with the chance for good to transpire as possible, it’d all be more fun. As scary as it sometimes is, I don’t want a life held still.
May I remember in this new year, more than any other year before, that idea. Life is so full — holding on to what was or what is robs me of the beauty of the reality of right now.
Hi, 2021. It’s nice to meet you.