Where did I read a line about “you are writing the script of your life and everyone in it is simply playing the role you’ve given them?” No idea. Somewhere in the mountain of platitudes, wisdom and chaff I plow through on a daily basis to try and keep my heart open to something bigger than me, bigger than this life I am wending through.
Like any journey, days of spectacular clarity are swiftly followed with drifts of mist that swirl up and around me, obscuring whatever vision that had only just yesterday seemed immutable.
I have this memory from last June when I was down on the Outer Banks with my family– three young girls (my 8 year old niece among them) were trying to get into the ocean, but the surf kept knocking them down. They retreated to the shore, frustrated and ready to go back to building sand castles.
Mary, the mother of the other two girls and a woman who had grown up summering on this very beach, got up from the low slung canvas chairs where she and my sister had been enjoying beers and a meandering chat. She walked purposefully down the sand. She had been watching the girls and as it appeared they were going to abandon the plan to swim, she marched down and plunged past the surf til she was about waist deep.
Then, she turned back and called to the girls. C’mon– get in here. You’ve got to get past the surf, she directed them. You’ve got to push past that point and then you’ll be in the calmer waves.
One by one, they followed her lead til they were all swimming and bobbing in the water like dolphins. As soon as they were established on the other side of the surf, Mary lumbered out of the water– pushing through the rough surf and settled back into her chair and resumed her chat with a cold beer in her hand.
I remember watching the whole exchange like a big dummy– thinking, doh– of course. If you hang out in the surf, you’re always gonna feel pummeled, cut off at the knees, frustrated and pulled under– doh. But truth is, I’d never really thought about it before.
And it’s with me right now.
Why the hell do I keep stalling in the surf only to retreat to the beach in frustration?
Gotta quit that sh*t.
Time to push through the surf and get to the calmer water that waits behind it so I can enjoy the deep swells and ride the fat waves.
A few weeks ago, when I was moving in to this apartment, a friend of Christine‘s came over to help me unpack and set up (hi Amy!). One of the series of boxes she opened held my journals from the past couple of years. Like many people who keep journals, I like to create a cover for the journal to capture where I am at in that moment of new chapter (plus, let’s just admit it– any excuse to cut, paste and collage, right?). So, she was pulling out stacks of these crazy compilations of mine and shoving them into a small bookshelf until finally, she just called out to me, “Jesus. Is there any end to these?”
Should there be? Not sure– I don’t know why I am compelled to pour out my daily life into these odd packages of blank paper and cardboard– but it’s been this way since I was seven years old. I stopped once when I was 22 years old– that lasted, about 12 or 14 months– but one day I picked up a tiny pocket sized journal and it all started up again– it’s definitely my way of coping with the surf, the changing tides.
Sometimes I go back through a particular volume wanting so much to find an answer or to feel that I am beyond whatever undertow was pulling me down at the time– and sometimes I find just that, but more times than not (many more times than not) I find myself reading words that hold nothing but the struggle without any glimmer of redemption or purposeful growth.
And still– I journal on. Maybe a part of me believes it will all make sense someday, even though I know better than that. I journal on because it’s my method of blood-letting.
Good things recently include gorgeous weather, three cds of Gillian Welch on endless repeat, and Henry doing so much better at the dog parks in terms of his social behavior– he’s really learning how to be, to play.
Sometimes watching him learn to play and make friends, I can’t shake loose a grin on my face that is so wide the corners of my mouth are surely touching my ear lobes.
Last night, it was particularly true as he trotted, only inches behind a 3 lb chihuahua who lead him in wide looping circles across the grassy expanse. Two brown bodies with tight bellies, smooth coats and pointy ears. One giant and one munchkin.
I’m grinning now just remembering the sight.