(Warning. Adult language ahead.)
Today I am 50 years and 185 days old.
Today I am tired. Today I’m frustrated. Today I am full of fear, gratitude, and nameless longing. I have been here before, doubtless I will be here again before my life comes to a close. But each time it’s always different. The path that led me out of this labyrinth before has grown over with weeds, and so I must forge a new path. To do this, I need to be still and listen to the silence. I need to let my soul lead me, but the noise in my brain drowns her out, and so I stay here longer than I probably need to.
I think about trying to lessen the pain by drinking tequila, you know, like a real Mexican. I think of getting stoned and listening to “Since I’ve Been Loving You” by Led Zeppelin over and over. But I’m wise enough to know that those are temporary measures (well, except the Led Zeppelin part) and they may lead me down their own awful path, followed by so many other souls who also wish to make it all go away.
The past month and a half has been difficult, and left cracks in my heart. But these same cracks have let in some light to a place that was locked up a little too tightly. I don’t know what is worse, the pain itself or the discovery that my soul still has cobwebby areas under lock and key. I mean, I’ve done my time on the couch, all that was healed and I’ve moved on, right? Well, apparently not. Now I have to deal with pain, longing, fear, newfound gratitude, and a pain in the ass two year old who refuses to put her shoes on so we can leave this place already. She sits there and pouts and says “NO! I. Don’t. Want. To.” She doesn’t realize that actually leaving would be better, in the short run, at least. So I have to sit here with her and wade through my heavy thoughts while she gives me sideways glances through slit eyes. Fuck.
Pain. Much of this is general mid-life crisis flotsam: where am I? Where am I going? Is this what I expected life to be like at 50? Is it too late for some of my dreams? Do I even have dreams anymore?
Longing. I want to hold someone’s hand. I want someone to rub my head and tell me everything is going to be ok. I want to sit in the dark with someone and listen to “Since I’ve Been Loving You” by Led Zeppelin, while holding hands, or leaning my head on his chest. I want to go to the coast and watch the sun go down, in silence, with my beloved. I want. I want some peace. I want to feel at peace. The strange realization that my longing isn’t really based on wanting another, but wanting myself. Or God, since I quizzically, fleetingly, came close to something akin to peace while sitting silently in front of the tabernacle on Holy Thursday night. Is it because I was sitting silently with my beloved?
Fear. Death. Saying goodbye to old dreams. Living in debt forever. Careening from one month to the next with no compass. Fear I won’t be able to stop the noise in my head. Ever.
Newfound gratitude. Missing my grandmother and Tom in the month of their death anniversaries (April). Feeling broken-hearted for my friend Georgina who lost her husband last month. Breathing in her pain as we hugged each other and sobbed. Praying for my friend Jack who lost his 21 month-old grandson to a tragedy that has no rhyme or reason and knocks the wind out of you from the sheer unfairness of it. The sympathy and empathy for Dee as she struggles through an illness that can’t seem to be brought under control. The surprising shared confession by someone that he was once homeless. In the middle of this was Good Friday, a day we nailed love to a tree.
All of these experiences have a common thread in them that grabs me by the throat and won’t let go: the knowledge that life is, yes, that tenuous and fragile and sometimes, often, there is absolutely nothing we can do to change that. That sometimes life can be hard and cruel.
But in there is the undeniable truth that life is good and abundant, even in the shadow of death. Even while rendered apart, my heart felt full from the gratitude and love and light that found their way in through the cracks. Realizing how much I really loved these people in my life. Seeing the love and support they received from friends and family. My feelings left me reeling, spinning out of control.
I can’t help but feel that there is a hand behind all this, pushing me as these things play out, helping, ever so gently, to break my heart, because that is what I really need to happen to me. This fragility, this vulnerability is absolutely necessary for me to grow, as I continue on this part of my journey. But it still scares me because it pushes me to my edges, and I fear they will buckle under the weight and leave me flailing in mid air. Too often the fear manifests itself as anger. An old tactic.
Sometimes though, I’m not scared. I feel a tenderness that pushes me to be more aware of others and their sufferings. To care. A tenderness that calls me to sit, be still. To breathe. To just be. To know that I will be ok. That I will make it out of this confusing place.