Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lean In


So it has been quite a while since I wrote anything here. A week is a week too long, for sure, and I have no excuse.

Except moving takes up a lot of time and energy, and sometimes it's nice to lay in the hotel bed with a remote in one hand and a drink in the other and watch crappy TV.

That was one night. I have no excuse for the others.

As we make the final push out of Georgia and begin to look north to rearranging our lives in Baltimore, I find myself retreating back to the settee and just staring out the window. Part of this is very much due to the fact that we have been packing and moving and cleaning and selling and rearranging like meth-fueled hamsters on a wheel and I am just exhausted and worn out.

The other part is the need for reflection and a moment of calm in the midst of this change. We spent 13 years in Georgia (probably about seven years too many, but that's neither here nor there. It simply is, and although I wonder what would have happened if we had actually left after my father died in 2006, I cannot let my head go there too long. "What if" is a waste of time and can be crazy-making. But I digress.).  I have written and erased this sentence five times because I don't know what to say about that. It has been a struggle mostly, these 13 years, but there have been some moments of joy. Few and far between, but there.

Georgia is the last place I saw my husband alive, and I am frankly struggling with that. Thankfully, he is neatly packed in a box labeled "Daddy," so I can bring him along wherever, but it is  a little strange to be leaving the first house we bought together and the last house he lived in, just down the street from the tree where he breathed his last breath in the small hours of a cold February morning. I wonder if it will be liberating to be in a city that doesn't have quite so many ghosts. I wonder if it will be sad. I wonder if I will start (continue?) talking to a box filled with ashes.

I also wonder if I might be a teeny, tiny bit crazy these days. #Possible

Pema Chodron talks about fear and uncertainty like this: “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ”  She counsels us to lean in to uncertainty, to lean in to fear, to embrace wretchedness as the other half of gloriousness. 

So, in my own way, I am leaning in. I am feeling the fear and am willing to die over and over again. I am trying to be compassionate with myself as I give in to grief on occasion, or laziness, or anger, or impatience. I may not be fabulous at being fully present every moment, but sometimes I get a breath of that in brief snatches, and it is lovely.

And then there is this: “Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” 

So maybe the reflection and staring out the window and lack of (written) action is my way of making room for all of these things, mentally. Cleaning out the house is physically making room for the flood. Giving me room to just lean in to it all.

There is no real end to this, so I will leave it at that.

Photo by Michelle Tribe via Flickr


  1. Thank you for sharing this Suzannah. My recent mantra is "feel the fear and do it anyway". I am ispired and may do a piece on this soon. Thank you making brave efforsts to "show your work" as Austin Kleon says. With Gratitude, G

  2. Pema Chodron has lots of wise things to say about the fact that if we are scared it's a pretty solid indicator that we are on the right path. Love her.