Life in between

Waiting… that’s what I tell myself. Wait.

Wait until you feel safe and secure again. Wait until we don’t feel like we could lose our jobs. Wait until the world becomes compassionate again. Wait until we know being around loved ones isn’t weighed down in awkwardly maintaining distance when we were made to be close. Wait to be outside when it isn’t 100+ degrees. Wait to see how the cards fall, wait until they fall into place just so… Wait, just keep waiting…

The other day I had an experience that reminded me that we’ll never know how much time we have. You could be sitting on the couch watching your favorite show and just like that, life is over. Whether from a health condition you didn’t know about (or ignored) or one of the million other unknown possibilities that we honest-to-goodness just have no control over. None, whatsoever.

There have been lots and lots of tears this year. Much of what I’ve experienced is nothing compared to what I know others witness each day. That in itself can be a hard balance, the balance between compassion for others and compassion for myself.

Many believe that this is our wake up call – our great awakening. So what is the lesson? What is the call to arms? What have I found in this never-ending year of pause and reflection?

I’ve found what’s precious beyond measure: being able to hug my mother, visiting my grandmother, playing with my niece and nephew – being there to watch them grow, making meals together with family, laughing with my friends, sinking my toes in sand, quiet mornings in the woods, having faith in democracy… the list feels overwhelmingly endless.

These are all the things that I took for granted, though I thought I was doing my best not to. Then the rug was pulled out from under me and it was as if all those good, wonderful things just disappeared in one great brush stroke on my life’s canvas.

I’ve always been an optimist, whether from a need to make those around me happy or because I always felt drawn to the little things that make life so beautiful – and yet, this year has felt overbearingly heavy. The scene from Lord of the Rings plays in my head all the time:

I think we’ve all felt that kind of despair this year. What more can we do?

I don’t have the answers. But, I do know I can’t keep waiting to make changes or new decisions. It’s time to take steps forward into a future that I do believe in.

So when I woke up feeling absolutely helpless this morning, I donated to a charity I believe in, because that’s one thing I can do. I drank my coffee and went on a walk with Lily – smiling as she would lift her head towards the sky and sniff every cool morning breeze. I can continue to breathe in and be witness to the special, little moments of living each day. I’ll call family and friends later since I can’t hug them yet. I’ll vote, and the world will continue on. Nature always does. And I’ll never again forget what it means to treasure all that is good in this world – and to fight for it always.

And excuse my unabashed nerdiness as I leave off with this quote, which I’ve held onto every day this year:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkein

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