Spring has finally arrived in my hometown, but it’s been slow growing. For weeks, there have been long stretches of gloomy, rainy days. The furnace is still on, and it’s often too chilly to enjoy the sunroom until late in the afternoon. I thought that once the season of renewal appeared, I’d feel a burst of energy that gave me the momentum to plant my garden, write a book, and hike to my heart’s content.
But not right now.
For a while, I’ve had to make myself get out of bed. Cajole myself into cleaning the house. Bribe myself to sit at the computer and try to string words together. I can blame it on the rain or the fact that I’m still wearing fleece and woolen socks. I can foist my frustrations on the fact that I’m going through menopause. Or I can face the reality that I’m about to surrender to something I’m not comfortable with at all, and that makes me feel profoundly sad.
I’m not alone. In the past few days I’ve connected with two girlfriends whose mothers are terminally ill. Another friend’s daughter recently had her third miscarriage. Another one lost a friend who had lived in her neighborhood when their daughters were very young. With Mother’s Day in the wings, it’s heartbreaking to know how many women I treasure will be celebrating a bittersweet holiday. Last night, I dreamt of my own mother who I haven’t seen in more than seven years, and woke up in the middle of the night in tears, unable to stop crying even as I drove across town this morning. Sometimes I wonder if my grieving will take a lifetime, or if I’ll ever fully understand the complicated dynamics that led to the silence between us.
These days I’m exploring an idea Ariel Levy writes about in her memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply: The idea that in life, unlike in writing, the drive to analyze and influence might be something worth relinquishing was to me a revelation. As a classroom teacher, I worked with of hundreds of children. As a yoga instructor, I’ve had the opportunity to practice with an incredible number of students. As a writer, I imagine that my work has influenced readers around the world, most of whom I will never meet. It’s been an honor and a privilege to teach, an uncommon blessing to write, and I wouldn’t trade one moment of it for anything.
Still, for a while now I’ve been trying to decide how I want to spend the rest of my life. It was a quiet revelation when I turned fifty last September, and ever since, an inner revolution has been stirring inside me. Now, more than ever, I realize how precious time is and that once spent, we can never get it back. I’ve wasted years waiting for my life to start. Decades waiting for people to change. Half a lifetime wondering, What am I supposed to do?
I used to think I knew the answer.
But not right now.
So I’m going to take some time off from Facebook, from writing and blogging so I can figure out my next move both professionally and personally. I may choose to give up on something I’ve worked for since I was in my late twenties. I may choose to find a salaried job so I can eventually sell my house and move to a more peaceful place. I may choose to wait a while longer and see what time will tell. In surrendering to the fact that I have no idea what the future will bring, I accept that trying to analyze or predict it is fruitless. The only way out of this long, dark tunnel is through it, step by step.
When I was little and asked my mother for something she didn’t want me to have, her answer was usually, “Not right now, Kate.”
I’d wait and impatiently wonder, If not now, when?
Sometimes I’d eventually get what I had wanted. Sometimes not.
As I sat down to write this blog, I gently spun that question a different way -- If I don’t take the time to walk through this uncomfortable place right now, when will I?
For all of us who are welcoming spring with a heavy heart, I’m hopeful that in time, we will live our way to the answers to our questions. That we’ll find moments of peace along the way. That while the blessings of our journey may seem out of our reach right now, we will continue to know that they are waiting in the wings, better than we could ever imagine.