What better way to spend your Sunday afternoon than following your son in his search for that perfect sunset. With the rain beating on the road as you climb the mountain, you anxiously anticipate the clarity and beauty of the setting sun as the rain dissipates. You hope for clouds as they always add interest and mystery. You look forward to the serenity of the view and the peace and quiet that such beauty brings. You capture the changes in the sky as the sun sinks ever so slowly into the depths of the horizon. And you very secretly thank God for such precious moments.
I discovered my ‘height anxiety’ one day hiking with my 4 boys (husband included). “Come mom. Look at how high we are” squealed my eldest son, just 9 years old maybe, perched at the side of a cliff beckoning me to come share the amazing view with him. I’m a sucker for views, sunsets, the outdoors, flowers. So without a thought, I immediately turned to share in the moment but, on seeing him at the edge, my heart started to contract. My chest started to heave, my breathing became shallow and there wasn’t enough oxygen in the world for all of us.
I might be exaggerating somewhat. But I knew I couldn’t watch him or the view. My husband, much braver than I and my other two sons were already there pointing, smiling, gasping at what must have been the perfect view. Not wanting to spoil the moment, however, I simply turned around and made some excuse for wanting to move away.
Needless to say, that entire holiday was filled with heights, precipices and perfect views. And my boys could not be happier enjoying the thrills of standing at the edge, relishing in the fact that we were so high up above the ground. Just writing about it makes me cringe and want to turn away.
Fast forward to the present. Well I’ve made some strides. I tell myself that unless there’s a major earthquake or some idiot pushes you, you’ll be fine. Think of the amazing view.
Take a chance and enjoy the moment.
Does is work? Most times. My boys still love sitting at the edge and I always want to be with them. So the math is easy. As I grow older conquering my fears gets easier. With my heart full and my mind strong, I move forward.
I remember your smile, with that dimple that I longed to have so much. I remember your love that you gave selflessly, willingly and to everyone you met. I remember your devotion to your one and only love. I remember your quiet reserve, your patience, your support.
I remember the close relationship you had with your siblings. The fun times and the laughter you shared with them, as we looked on as children, marveling in your joy of living – wishing that we too would one day be as happy as your were. I remember you dancing with your infamous finger pointing to the sky.
I remember you teaching me to sew, encouraging me as I made mistakes with your clever quip – “every mistake is a fashion”. I remember how you picked up for me when the older ones took advantage of my devotion to them (well only one sibling really). I remember your behind-the-scenes love.
I remember the sparkle in your eyes when I brought my boys to visit you. They remember your caring, your warmth. They remember always wanting to visit you, they remember the custard you always made for them as a treat. They remember your birthday cake, your soupees. They remember Christmas mornings.
Just to let you know that, on this particular day, we all remember…
How many times have you felt the need to recharge? Build back up your strength and energy to be able to move forward again. To take back up the challenge of your many responsibilities. To be able to continue on your quest to conquer the day and its inevitable ups and downs. To become a brighter and better you.
What if I don’t want to recharge? What if I just want to stay exactly the way I am. Spent and exhausted. Tired and in need of TLC. What if I just want to hide from the rest of the world. Make it stop and go away. What if I just want to be.
Will you let me?
My most treasured days are what I call ‘Pajama Days’. I get up in the morning at whatever hour. There’s no one at home, a critical element to the success of a ‘pajama day’. And I spend the day in my pajamas, in and out of bed. In and out of the kitchen scrounging around for the easiest thing to eat and drink. In and out of my books, my photography, my blogging, my movies. And then at the slightest sound of someone returning home, I quickly shower and change and pretend that I’ve had the most active day ever.
It’s my secret. It’s my day. I do whatever I want to do, without interruption. And in essence, I recharge. I get back in touch with me. And I can now get back in touch with the rest of the world.
Am I the only one who has ‘pajama days’?
At times I over-use the phrase “you never…..”. And that’s being very kind – I probably use these words to lash out more often than I care to admit. And most times it’s when I’m in a mood – any mood other than my happiest – tired, overwhelmed, feeling sorry for myself. “You never do this… You never do that…”
But really, don’t we often overlook the smallest signs of affection, caring, love. So focussed are we on the bigger things that everyone else can see. The bigger things that are probably not as heartfelt or meaningful as the really small things.
When in fact the simple hugs in the kitchen while you’re washing dishes. Remembering to bring your helmet for you when you go for a ride. Turning off the light so you can sleep. Telling your sons in a round-about way that you’ve worked hard and deserve your rewards. The unexpected smile and a wink that still make you blush. The quiet moment admiring the sunset together. And the list goes on.
These are the moments that you should really cherish and keep tucked away in your heart. The moments that will keep you going when you are tired and overwhelmed. The moments that will keep you from feeling sorry for yourself.
For these are the moments that are real. The ones you can take with you wherever you go.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of reigniting a friendship with an old school friend. Actually we’ve been in contact off and on for the past 5 years, in and out of each other’s life, sharing fleeting moments of the intimacy of our long-term relationship. But very recently only just, once again, we’ve begun to scratch the surface, bringing to the fore the very essence of our relationship. Remembering our past schinanigans, and reveling in the fact that, after so so many years, we can still share our deepest thoughts, in the knowledge that these thoughts will be kept safe and sound.
So that when, as an adult, you talk about moving on and leaving the past behind, I always wonder how in heaven’s name can you actually do this. Your past is never really left behind. You may not want to think about it, remember it, or even re-live it, but the reality is that your past – the things we want to leave behind – is in fact what makes us who we are.
It shapes us, it enriches us, and if we are truly honest with ourselves, we would admit that we keep our past safely tucked away in our hearts. Easily accessible at any moment. We refer to it in times of need. And I’m not only talking about the good memories we want to live over and over again. I’m also talking about those moments and events that, all things being equal, we would not want to re-live. But when we examine ourselves closely, we realise that these are the moments, the bits of our past, that have made us strong, confident, empathetic, warm, gentle, understanding. In essence the moments that have made us more human.
Yes there are many people in my life that live in my past. Some I would love to meet again, some I don’t really care to ever see again. Similarly there are experiences that I would love to have again, and some that, God forbid, I cringe at the very thought and I still secretly thank God that I’m still alive. But the mere fact that I can still feel and respond to these things in my past, tells me that they will always be with me. That in fact I’ve left nothing behind. What I have done is carefully packaged them and wrapped them up, so that one day when I need them the most, I can receive them again in the form that they were meant to be, as a gift in my life.
For, as my very dear friend reminded me,
‘Everything in my life – the good, the bad and the ugly – is a gift’,
and in accepting this, I will live a happier healthier life.