The rain is falling- falling in hard and fast, chilling sheets that are beating against the living room window. I turn the lights on, as it has suddenly grown so dark in the house. A little better, but still dimmer than it should be. I look up to the far left corner and see the bulb that I meant to change weeks ago, still burned out. Looking around, in the half light, I notice papers piled on top of the desk, toys strewn across the coffee table, toys tumbling out of bins all across the floor. No matter how hard I try, regardless of how little I do in the outside world, I can never keep up with it all.
The little one comes in with her cup of juice. ‘Do yoga with me, Mama.’
She doesn’t ask. She demands, as only a two year old can.
A heavy sigh filled with the temptation to get back to breakfast dishes, laundry, emails- REAL WORK- leaves my lips.
‘Do yoga with me, Mama.’ Again, the demand, quieter this time, waiting for disappointment, perhaps.
Work and work. It can wait, forever, if it has to.
We stretch, we touch our toes, it feels good to lie on the floor and giggle with this little being that is so free from schedule, duties and time. How I must learn from her. I close my eyes and breathe. How I’ve dreamed of these moments, visualized them into existence. How many of them do I allow to pass me by because the world tells me there are other things that are so much more worth doing?
A familiar song begins to play, ‘It’s my favorite…’
She says this about all of them, but I can’t help but take her at her word. I scoop her up, and bury my nose and lips into that soft space beneath her ear, and kiss her tiny, perfect neck. In the shadow of the burned out light, amongst debris of childrearing and cleaning failures, we twirl, we swing, we laugh, we sing.
And I begin to cry. Slowly, tears escape from the corners of my eyes and turn into muffled sobs as we fumble around the furniture, tripping over a puzzle, a book, a dinosaur or two.
“I survived for this” I whisper it- out into the atmosphere, to her. She doesn’t understand, that for this very moment, just to share the ordinary magic between the two of us, this life altering experience of dancing, as only the two of us can, for THIS, I fought my way out of hell and back again and back again- tripping, face down onto the edge of an abyss of darkness that threatened to swallow me up, only to have spit me out into the utter confusing bliss of normality…
It’s for this, that I have survived.
When despair wanted to take me, conjuring up love for these little beings that were not even known, drenched me in light, feeding the will of survival, altering the belief that there was nothing worth living for, because deep in my knowing, somehow, I could feel them calling to me, while out there, for all those days and nights. As I walked to what I was sure was the end of it all, they traveled beside me, each taking a hand, assuring me that the best was yet to come, whether on this side or the other, I just could not know then.
But I sure as hell know it now.
This. This is why I made it.
For the everyday task of swinging my legs over the side of the bed to answer the calls of sick children. For the generous gift of preparing nourishment for the little mouths that have so shifted my world and made me into the only thing I was meant to become.
A better version of myself- a mere memory of who I once was. One who does not have the time or the energy to fret over the meaningless, one who must stop over and over again, trying to finish the most menial of tasks, only to, and quite literally for nothing more, and nothing less, than to stop and smell the roses.
I survived for this. Not for any other reason, than to do the everyday. To forge through the curtain of the mundane, so that on the other side I could experience the very purest form of joy.
Living Life Now.
For the past five years, I have carried around my survival as if it were a weight, a responsibility.
Call it survivor’s guilt, maybe it truly is shame-I’m not the only one- I believe we all carry our own version of it. But, when it has felt like too much to carry, I always go back to the truth that my experiences are like a smooth stone I carry around in my pocket- it will always be there- until I figure out where to put it, how best to lay it down, I imagine I will wander looking for that sacred space for a while yet, however, the weight of it never changes, although my ability to carry it around- my thoughts and beliefs about the weight of it- does. As I grow stronger from hauling it around with me, I see it for what it really is. Not something to be ashamed of, or have to prove it’s what I am always about, but really, it’s the deepest form of GRACE, that has blessed me with the opportunity to understand the work that has enabled me to grow strong enough to bear it, all while allowing me to get back on my own two feet again. And what’s more, because it takes time to build stamina and strength- and because it takes practice and is slow in its natural process, this has forced me to answer the call of the experience of a life of slow and deliberate normalcy.
This is the lesson in my survival. Had I not been tried, I would most likely never have slowed down.
And oh, the life I would have missed. Dare I say it was all worth it- for the chance to experience this?
Somehow, in the midst of books and writing and speaking and child growing and work and more work- I had ALMOST forgotten all of it- this truth that is so foundational, so fundamental.
And as for these feet that have carried me to the ends of the earth and back, that have born the weight of my world upon them, that shook with fear as I was walking into the unknown, following strangers and chasing after stars….these feet are now dancing the dance of survival- the dance of those who have and will continue to survive.
They are dancing barefoot in the garden as we pick violets and chickweed for our morning tea. They are dancing in the kitchen as I prepare (yet another) meal for hungry tummies and singing to me their songs of need.
They are dancing and rejoicing in the memories that are ever present but rarely painful because of that beautiful, ever healing gift of time.
It’s all just a blip in this thing we call life.
And for those of us who are lucky enough to be living it, how glorious it is, and forever more will be.