It seems contradictory, hanging on and letting go, but it is the foundation and bedrock of my survival plan for living well. Any measure of peace I have managed to achieve (even if only for a while) has been because I hang in there through the thick and hell of it. I do that while trying to let go in a very zen fashion. I try to let go of the illusion of control over my life, over my children’s happiness, over my own body. I have this hang on part nailed down like a master after years of floundering in well earned moments of pity parties, anxiety and panic attacks, and pain management for an awesome but fickle body that manages to still take me by surprise and fail me when I am at my best and top speeds. I have been married for 22 years and I am also a parent. This means that the people I love the most can make me feel utterly helpless and lost while I grip the wheel of my life and try desperately not to swerve off the road as we navigate growing up together. Yes, even my husband an I are still careening into one another at emotionally vulnerable times, like hapless fools strapped into bumper cars at the carnival. We have the happy pictures of our life together, as well as the ticket stubs and neckbraces from the whip lash rides we stumbled into.
The letting go part….less mastered, shall we say….less…ZEN than I aspire to. For the moment. This particular moment has me sidelined unexpectedly by my spine and my legs deciding that TODAY was going to be a surprise party for me of not playing together very nicely. My feet feel hobbled, at least the half of the right foot that has feeling, and most of the left foot, and painful. My legs feel like lead and I’m fatigued like someone dosed me with antihistamines. I pushed through my day, stumbling into things in stores, having to grasp my right leg behind the knee and manually lift it over the babygates up in our home. No, not for human babies, these are for Buttercup the most spoiled wee house bunny you’ll meet. She has the run of a couple of rooms, necessitating gates across three, count them THREE door ways to keep her from peeing on our couch. Yes, yes, I KNOW you can box train a bunny and it is honestly on my to-do list, but pretty far down. Somewhere below stain and hang fence sections before winter storms blow the old ones down, and finding a new job. Like, yesterday. The good news is that box training Buttercup is still high enough on that list that she outranks house training the kids.
It’s late afternoon and I managed to climb the stairs to my bedroom and crawl into bed. I’m frustrated and staring at my faithless feet. “YOU RAN A HALF MARATHON IN MAY!” I yell inwardly at them. “YOU WALKED THE COAST OF MAINE FOR THE BETTER PART OF A WEEK!” I rant silently while glaring at them. “I TAKE AMAZING CARE OF THIS DAMN BODY, HOW DARE YOU BETRAY ME?!”
Strangely enough, my feet remain mute, my legs offer no comfort, my spine actually rolls its eyes at me like a teenager.
Breathe, Elizabeth, breathe. This is what we’ve been training for, the days life decides differently than you do and you have to just hang on and let go. Let go of the notion that you will get everything (or anything for that matter) done somedays. Let go and see this time for the gift it can be: time to refresh, to restore, to be still. The Italians have a phrase for this “Il dolce far niente”. The sweetness of nothing.
The light through my window is golden and soft, easing the edges of the world and making it seem welcoming and friendly. My feet poke out of the blanket I am curled under. I regard them with kindness this time. They carry me where I need to go, and keep me company when I am unable to go farther. So I will try to savor the sweetness and just breathe.