I turned 41 last week.
I seem to become more thoughtful and reflective than usual when a birthday approaches, and this habit lingers in the weeks following. As this earthly time ticks away, going faster and faster with each precious year, my mind meanders through those questions:
Will I ever do this? Will I ever achieve that? Will these eyes ever see that far away place I have dreamed of since I was a child?
Will the rest of my life be blessed with good, stable health? Or will it always be the same?
The leash of illness has felt awfully, painfully tight of late. In times like these all my heart longs to do is turn to something much bigger than myself; to lay my eyes upon miracles and unspeakable beauty, things that even the most poetic verse simply cannot touch.
So to celebrate, I spent a gorgeous late morning with my husband at Muir Woods. The California Redwood is something that truly needs to be seen in one’s lifetime; photography and brilliant words are not enough to capture their majesty. Hundreds of feet high, centuries and sometimes thousands of years old, sunlight shining through them as if the gracious hand of God is reaching down, they possess a calm and peace that cannot be described, it can only be felt as you stand, so diminutive at their feet.
I could hear the gentle, comforting rush of a creek. I could see a tiny fawn feeding within feet of its gorgeous mother. And I thought to myself that these very same things~water slipping over grey, cold rocks and a family of deer eating peacefully in the shadow of these giants~perhaps happened in this very same spot centuries and maybe even a thousand years ago. Before modern people and modern life.
And these very same things will happen long after we are gone.
909 AD: A tree is born
1100 AD: Building of cliff dwellings begins~Mesa Verde, Colorado
1325 AD: Aztecs begin construction of Tenochtitlan, Mexico
1492 AD: Columbus sails to America
1607 AD: Jamestown, Virginia founded by English colonists
1776 AD: The Declaration of Independence
1849 AD: The California Gold Rush
1908 AD: Muir Woods National Monument established
1930 AD: Tree falls
Experiences like this always make me feel the same.
I am really, really glad that I was born.
And I’m really, really glad that I am here.
I cannot think of a greater gift.
The light will come and find you. You only need to bring the mind to rest. ~ Fay Hart
“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”
It was not my intention to be away for so long; I guess I have been busy with being human~fragile, at times sad, hopelessly breakable. I have been a little dark cloud amid the magnificent late spring sunshine.
I have experienced what has felt like a month-long flu, which has made for miserable mornings and even more miserable afternoons. Sleep has been my only escape. By now I should be used to what lupus and fibromyalgia do to me, but I’m not. The pain has numbed my brain. Projects have been set aside. My camera goes untouched. I started my fiction novel in March, and I haven’t written a single word in weeks. I am also going through some intensely personal things; complicated things that hurt, things I can’t really talk about for the sake of others, things for which there is no other solution than to let go and move forward when all I feel is frozen.
My mind drifts to the celebratory passages that come with this time of year, the ones that create the deliciousness, the essence, of life. Graduations. Vacations. Bliss. It brings me to what illness has taken away, what I don’t get to experience in the here and now. As a young girl and later into my teens, I looked ahead into a future and saw a brave and inventive life. Today, on those days when I choose, and on those days when I literally have to fight for happiness, I am fueled by the thought that I still have a chance to create moments and milestones, that I still have time for bravery and invention.
There is always the future. Something different, something better, than what exists today.
Pain is both mask and unveiling. I have longed to hide away and not be seen, but when I can’t, I often successfully force a laugh or smile. However, healing doesn’t dwell in this well versed facade. It can only be born from the tears, vulnerability and freedom that come with being honest. I will get through this, just like I have before. As a sick person, I often feel like my circle of support and love is constantly growing smaller. In some ways it is true~some friends lose patience or drift away altogether~but my circle remains unbreakable in the most significant ways; my marriage is strong, my family unwavering, and my dearest friends will always understand. Projects will always be there waiting, and to them I will most definitely return.
I just need to feel better and get on with living, with both arms wide open.