last weekend, i traveled to the land of the great lakes (well, one of them) to see one of my most favorite people and her almost-9-month-old daughter. leaving my charming city was also on the agenda; i needed to get out of dodge for a few days to clear my head and go to a house in a remote location with a river lazily drifting by out back. a river, i might add, that was more than 3 feet above what it should normally be. this also meant that some fields...and front yards...looked like mini lakes. it also meant that the grasses were already lush and green with spring despite the snow that fell the night before i arrived.
i spent 2+ days in a house with the darling bebé, along with a sweet, huge yellow lab, a brand-spanking new golden puppy, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree (to say nothing of the mr. and mrs.). in the midst of this little family, making its way in the world, i was reminded of something: i am like that river, solitary and kind of mucked up and moving through life almost without even realizing it. no one depends on me for anything outside of work. i come home and i eat dinner (or not), wash dishes (or not), do laundry (or not), and talk to anyone (or no one) as i see fit. no one will die if i don't feed them. no one will object if there are socks on the floor of the living room. i have no one's mess to clean up but my own. and it's lonely. but it also can bring a measure of peace and calm.
that's the thing about life, i think: you have to find that balance between total independence/solitude and constantly surrounding yourself with other people/animals/things that need your attention. life on either end can be exhausting and make you feel like you're being sucked under by the currents, but if you can find that sweet spot in the middle, you can swim along happily for quite some time.
in the moments (few and far between as they may have been) i have been in that sweet spot, i feel the most like my pure self. there is a kind of sanctity in those times, and if i could bottle them up, i would. but the river of life continues to flow, and with it come the changing currents, the mud and sticks and other crap collected from distant shores, the knowledge that everything is temporary and what is good must be enjoyed now before it gets swept away in an instant.
now hear me: i'm not saying all of this to be negative. if anything, i feel encouraged and reminded that, to find that sweetest place in life, i must open up to the uncertainties...to what lies around that next bend in the river's path. i must continue to be vulnerable and to put my heart on the line for the things that i want. i must seek to avoid regret and invite the cleansing and renewal that new waters bring. it's not natural for me to do this, you see, but i figure if i'm going to conquer my own destiny and find the life i want, i have to plunge head-first into the rushing waters rather than simply allow life to float me along. and yes, that also means that the possibility of drowning is real, but i have those swimming lessons under my belt from 30+ years ago and just enough hope to keep me afloat. it's a start.