When my kids were little, we would visit area water parks. At the time, there were 2 larger parks and then a smaller one on our side of town. The kids loved to go. They liked the slides and chutes, the faster and higher the better. My favorite parts of the park was the lazy river and the wave pool. There weren’t lots of stairs to climb or blind turns in the dark tunnels. And best of all, the water forced up my nose was held to a minimum. I just enjoyed drifting along in the waves, going nowhere in particular.
Drifting can be a relaxing and mindless activity. You just enjoy the gentle rocking up and down and let the waves carry you along. It works really well in an enclosed park. But, mindless drifting can get you into trouble in the ocean. Before you realize it, you can be further away from the shore than you ever intended. It’s easy to be totally lost with no idea where to go if you don’t pay attention. And the effort to get back on course is often exhausting at best.
Sometimes in life it’s just easier to go with the flow, to just drift along and do what comes easy. Then, I look around and wonder where I am and how did I get here? Often it’s the rush of the falling rapids of my life that get my attention. How do I get back on track with “the plan”? Is it even worth trying? And I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve watched others drift past and wondered when are they going to realize the rapids are coming even as I ignore my own destination.
One of the few things I remember from the Franklin-Covey training I received many years ago was this: If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time! When I allow myself to just drift along, I am choosing to aim for nothing. Dreams and plans require some effort. I have to open my eyes to the possibilities. I have to allow myself to dream even if those dreams may never be reality. Even failure is better than simply drifting. I have to stop retreating to the lazy river and make an effort to jump into the rapids. I need to take aim at life and with that the responsibility of where I’m going.
The start of a new chapter and the end of an old one.
Looking forward to the future. Turning away from the past.
Tears of joy. Tears of sadness. Flowing freely together.
Memories completed await new memories not yet formed.
Life is a series if beginnings and endings, often mingling the joy of the new start with the regret of abandoning what was once important tinged with Regret for things not done.
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing,
therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human
being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not
pass this way again.”
Stephen Grellet, 1773-1855
French-born Quaker Minister
Here’s the deal. Five Minute Friday. You go find the little prompt at the wonderful Lisa-Jo’s blog, set the time and write for five minutes, and then just stop. Where you are, no edits, just publish raw words.
I don’t like to fall. It hurts. So, I’ve always avoided anything that might include falling: skating, hurdles, climbing trees, etc. I’ve watched my kids throw themselves into all sorts of painful things. My son played football and I cringed every time he was hit. But, at least he wore pads.
And then there’s wrestling! Both my son and my daughter wrestled. They got on a mat with only a small amount of ear protection and wrestled for the longest six minutes of a mom’s life. I’ve seen more pain in the six minutes on the mat than in a full game of football. And my mom’s heart would stop every time my kid hit the floor. Because, the whole point was to get the fall. You worked your heart out to get the opponent to fall. Sometimes, you fall in the process. It’s all part of the grand scheme.
When did I stop working with all my heart to get my opponents to fall? When did I stop working against loneliness and self-doubt? I’ve got to stop being afraid to fall so that I can make my opponents hit that mat and get out of my life.
A simple gold band. We had set the date and now we were looking for wedding bands. I liked gold. Terry preferred silver. I liked the sparkle of diamonds. He didn’t care for that. We decided on yellow gold bands with white gold overlays.
A shiny wedding ring. On October 17, 1987, I place that shiny new ring on Terry’s finger. Of course, it was on the wrong hand, but that was soon remedied. He wore that ring every day. I used to tease him that there was no way he could ever get away with taking it off. The white imprint of the wedding band on his ring finger was too obvious. Thru the years, my band was replaced with a diamond band, but Terry’s remained the same.
A well worn ring. No longer perfectly round, the white gold overlays faded after 18 years of constant wear. But there is nothing quite as precious to me as that ring that was returned to me in the hospital corridor five years ago. I wear it proudly as reminder of the love that we shared.
Terry, I miss you so much!
I’m a math nerd. I admit it. I like the way numbers are consistent and tell the same story every time. Two plus Two will ALWAYS equal Four. I liked Algebra formulas. When it came to Geometry, not so much. While some people loved the graphing and seeing the little boxes appear, I often couldn’t see them. I knew they were there, but you never knew where they would be or what shape and I struggled to find them. But, give me a proof to write and I was in heaven! I fell in love with the logical order of proofs. Because that’s what they were: LOGIC. It was just writing down how I solved a problem, step by step.
Unfortunately, there are few things in life that are as consistent or logical as a geometry proof. I know there have been many times when I took all the right steps, but the result didn’t add up. Two plus two seemed to equal Five in my life. Yet, I still plan. I still over-think. I still set my expectations. And, usually that’s the problem: MY expectations. I recently read this passage from “Bittersweet” by Shauna Niequist: “I believe that faith is less like following a GPS through a precise grid of city blocks, and more like being out at sea: a tricky journey, nonlinear and winding.” I don’t know about you, but I truly prefer the GPS option.
Psalm 27:14 says “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:11 states “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Proverb 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Great verses. So, why do I feel so undirected at times? Why do I need a proof? Is my faith too small? Does it really matter? Maybe, I’m just not ready to give up control.
The reality is that “stuff” happens all the time. Not everything will go the way that I want it to go. Even if I do everything to set it up the way I want it, things happen that are out of my control. I have to be able to roll with the seemingly unfair circumstances that sometimes are a part of my life. I don’t have a map to tell me what’s in my future. But, I do believe that God is firmly in control.
Two plus two will always equal four. But for me, it may look more like this:
I tease my siblings that I was quite happy as an only child for 2 years. I liked being alone. It was special.
In college, being alone was rare. Even when I lived in my Own apartment, people came and went at all hours.
As a single adult, life was busy and exciting. Alone time had to be scheduled. There was so much to do that once a month I might get an evening to myself.
My first apartment as a new bride was a small one bedroom. As much as I loved my new husband, I looked forward to Thursday nights when he had to work. I got the whole apartment all to myself and time alone.
Alone time with toddlers was truly a challenge. On more than one occasion, I locked myself in the bathroom as the kids stood outside knocking and begging to get inside. I just needed to be alone.
When my kids hit their teens, my husband and I talked about what we could do with all the time we would have alone. The possibilities were endless.
Being alone terrified me as a new widow. How would I make it? I held tightly to my kids and dreaded the day they too left me. I didn’t want to be alone.
As I look toward the future, being alone is changing still. I will never be completely alone. I trust that God will continue to fill my life with new goals and adventures. My kids and family weave in and out of my daily life. Friends, old and new, come and go and dot the landscape of my life. In the dark of night loneliness still creeps into the room. But, it’s not as scary as it was.
I may even learn to treasure alone time again. Someday.