This won’t last forever.
That was my thought as I drifted back into a fitful sleep, a few nights ago.
How many times have I breathed this mantra in and exhaled it out throughout my lifetime? Not only to find a way through the hard things, but in gratitude for the beautiful things in life, as well.
I find myself whispering these four words when I’m out for a run- gulping for air, legs aching, sweat pouring down my face- my God, it’s HARD. That’s why it took me almost 38 years to even try it. I get to my half-way mark and feel relief. Relief to have made it this far, relief for the gratitude that my lungs are still working, my heart is still pumping, my legs are getting stronger every day. Just a regular day, out by the woods, the sun working her way in and out of the clouds; in this moment I appreciate it for everything it is. The sun finds shelter and rests behind a cloud, the moment is over- it was fleeting, it didn’t last.
Painful memories of lying semi-paralyzed in the center of my yoga mat on a cold tile floor, lost in grief of the death of my mother, the only person who knew me the way only a mother can; ragged breaths caught between my words. Immovable, on my back, the loss so heavy on my chest, I can barely sit up. Locking myself behind closed doors, because my world has ended, and another one, a world without my mother, has begun.
It can’t feel like this forever- I moan repeatedly into the rubber of my mat. It’s not humanly possible to feel this way for too long; I feel like I am going to die.
My ears, waking up in a cold hard space by the chirping and twirling of desert swallows, warbling me back to my reality- All this before I can find the courage to even open my eyes. Staring up at the clear and infinite blue above me, and when I finally feel strong enough, whispering to myself, “This can’t last forever-it just can’t”- before lifting my head to meet the day. The day that would bring me release, the night that would bring me a miracle of the most intrepid kind.
Gunfire, breathing, endings that can’t be described.Oh, God, this can’t last forever.
It took some time to understand, in fact it’s still going on, but forever still hasn’t come.
Cold and lonely winter nights, broken hearts and cracked promises, fear of the unknown, fear of the all too well known. Financial burdens causing hours of exhausting work away from the loves of our lives, the mystery of physical pain, the suffering that comes along with misunderstandings, the grief of saying good-bye too soon- It’s like a brick in our pocket. When we first find it there, it is all we can think about, the heaviness, the presence of it, throwing us out of balance as we try to make it through the day. But after some time, we grow used to the weight, and absentmindedly, we repeatedly slide our hand inside our pocket in order to make sure that it hasn’t gone away, because it’s ours to carry, no one can take it from us, and even if they could, we wouldn’t let them anyway.
The load will not go away, but the heaviness of it does not last always. Does the actual physical weight of it change? No, but our perception of it’s burden does. And maybe that is why things don’t last forever. Perhaps it’s not the circumstances that change, it’s just us that does the changing, our understanding of the pain, our belief laying the foundation of our own suffering.
With that change comes the yin and the yang- the good with the bad, the constant with the fluidity.
We must hurt in order to appreciate how beautiful it really is to feel good.
We must grieve in order to understand the depth of a love that was even possible to be called ours.
We must struggle so that we CAN’T pass up the gift to help.
We must break, so that we can understand it is not all ours to carry.
We must go without so that we appreciate the times when we won’t have to anymore.
We must fight so that we can understand what peace really is.
We must suffer in order to understand we are not truly suffering in the first place.
Ursula K. Le Guin wrote:
“Light is the left hand of darkness…how did it go?
It is yourself…both and one.
A shadow on snow.”
How long will the shadow on snow last? How long will it be for the snow?
And while it was just the pitter patter of 4 year old little feet in the middle of the night and then the inevitable little boy body crawling over me to find a pillow and a safe spot to rest, that brought this into my mind, I couldn’t help but feel the yin and the yang, as I lay there with his ever growing hand, lightly clasping mine.
The sleep deprived side of me asked into the darkness: ‘How long is this going to last?’
As we both fell back into that beautiful space of sleep, my aching heart answered back:
Enjoy it for what it is, because nothing, not even this, will last forever.