It’s been a busy month, lots of writing, reading and thinking, the latter mostly about the future. I feel as if on the edge of a precipice, or a bridge, poised to cross over into a new life that is very slowly coming into focus, like a landscape under a receding fog.
That the future isn’t exactly in focus sometimes scares the living daylights out of me. I don’t do well with unknowns, never have. But the uncomfortableness gives me the chance to practice my new resolve: to have faith, to plan ahead, to be patient (not expect everything to fall into place overnight and then get discouraged when it doesn’t), and, most importantly, to be present and appreciate the Now.
If my posts are becoming redundant with this sentiment, it’s because this period is so intensely about learning to appreciate life again, that is, to feel happiness and joy in the simplest of pleasures, and not just when things are going well. It’s when life isn’t going well that it’s the most challenging to keep that sense of gratitude and inner peace. That is the core of what I’m after, and what I’m trying to practice here, every day.
It’s funny how life sometimes throws things in your path that are just what you need in the moment. In my monthly book group here, someone recently suggested we read a novel called the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.
At first it felt a little daunting (it’s 607 pages of small print), but after a while, I couldn’t put it down. Besides being a great mystery and window into Japanese culture and history, the story felt almost like a philosophical manifesto on “flow”: when life is in flow, when it is out of flow, and when there is no flow at all, like at the bottom of a dry well.
For most of the story, the main character is dealing with several losses, in a state of confusion and passive. He lets things happen to him, instead of making them happen.
But he’s actually not entirely passive. Rather, he is consciously going with the flow… allowing people to come in and out of his life, listening and observing everything closely, not resisting his emotions but allowing them to be, while all the while acknowledging that his emotions aren’t him. He also spends time confronting his greatest fears (and regulating his breathing) in a solitary place, where he sometimes cannot distinguish between his imagination and reality. But by doing these things, he finds his way back to his true self, and regains the necessary strength and self-determination to take action.
Needless to say, I related to it very much.
I have written before about how loss shakes our foundation and changes us. It’s not just the loss itself, it’s how we deal with it years later, how we process and are reborn from the devastation. After loss, there is no going back, not to the person we lost, not to the life we used to lead or the person we used to be. And so we struggle to find ourselves again, and regain our footing in the new world, our new future.
This is how I feel about this period in upstate New York. Here, among the mountains, changing seasons, animals, insects, plants and endless creeks, lakes and rivers, I am both regaining my emotional, spiritual and physical foundation, and learning to go with the flow, not in some esoteric way, but literally shifting my approach to life.
I don’t mind that it’s taking some time. It should take time. This is the foundation on which the rest of my life will rest.
May 29, 2015 at 9:26 pm
I love the pictures and what you said. I lost my Mom three weeks ago. Gosh I miss her. Grief hanging on. It’s not easy with my job as a nurse, it ties in so much with Mom. Keep writing, I enjoy what you have to say.
June 1, 2015 at 12:50 pm
Thank you, Jodi. My heart goes out to you. I lost my mom when I was 22. Tough times. Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Hope it helps somehow.
May 30, 2015 at 10:14 am
I went through a Haruki Murakami phase. Read Norwegian Wood, A Wild Sheep Chase, and I believe I did read Kafka on the Shore. His novels are trippy, but terribly meditative.
June 1, 2015 at 12:50 pm
Yes! I want to read those now too. Love his style.
May 30, 2015 at 12:47 pm
There is no going back. And there is the inexorable forward flow of time. Then that NOW, so hard to reach and stay there, at least for me. This summer, after carefully calculating how much it costs me to live in my house, I decided I can stay for as long as my body allows. This gives me one less future obsession (do I have to move? when?) and settles me into the place I’ve loved for so many years. It’s a good writer/hermit life, close to nature. I hope you’ll visit some day. It’s also a new world every season as nature changes the landscape and changes me.
Beautiful photos, too.
June 1, 2015 at 12:52 pm
Ah, I’m glad you’ve made that decision to stay in your house. It sounds like a sanctuary and a foundation. Would love to visit you!
June 1, 2015 at 4:28 am
I certainly know that feeling(s) of building our foundations up, after loss. It certainly looks as though you are in the best place. Nature is very healing… it asks nothing, but gives one an energy & calm that no pill or platitude can match. I often force myself out the door, and down to one natural area by the river or other. I guess loss can either break you, or you learn to bend and grow in different ways…much like the adaptability of nature, given the right environment 😉
June 1, 2015 at 12:55 pm
Good point. I really think that, in a way, all the answers to life’s mysteries can be found in nature, including how to survive loss.
June 1, 2015 at 3:47 pm
You should check out the field of ecopsychology… its based more or less on that principal. How our connection (or rather DISconnection) from the natural world helps to ground us, heal us, and I guess just take us deeper inside ourselves. BTW…sounds like things are going well for you…:-) overall
June 1, 2015 at 9:36 am
so glad to read your thoughts in the second to the last paragraph, and in the last? YES! It should take time.
Take all you need!
June 1, 2015 at 12:55 pm