Is this irony? Setting up a coaching business was keeping me a little bit stuck. Putting aside the activity last year unearthed important questions. Among them: where—and what—am I without it?
My feet are bare and warm. I’m standing in deep sand under the hatch on the back of my van and sorting through food choices. A random memory pops into my mind. It’s a time in my late thirties—the days of working hard. My parents are visiting and I take time off to be with them. The phone rings at 8:15 the first morning out. The boss. “That didn’t take long” I remark before answering. We all laugh and I feel a little sense of importance. A sense that I do not have now.
How is that for me? It varies.
Day four on the road. Maybe five. I’m driving, camping, hiking. Just me. I’m seeing new places and watching sunsets with whomever else appears on the landscape. So far no one has asked who I am, where I’m from, what I’m doing. No one. One other human—my husband—knows my location, but out of the other eight billion people on the planet, there isn’t anyone else. And, in any given moment, it’s possible there’s not another person who cares.
There’s freedom in that. It also stings a little bit. I feel that push and pull.
Sometimes, that discomfort leads me to ponder my place in things and what difference I make or ever have made. There are a lot of ways to look at that. It’s the same with another question I’m living.
2023 in Vermont
We start the summer in drought. Smoke from wildfires in Canada change the color of the sky. Some days mountains in the distance don’t show and it’s best to wear a mask during strenuous activity.
I walk the shores of Lake Champlain on hot dry day. People are sitting on beside the lake, not swimming; the concentration of Cyanotoxins in the water is too high.
Then, rain for weeks. The ground is saturated by the time an unnamed storm causes flash flooding that rips roads and houses to shreds in my community. As people recover and rebuild, a new question emerges: What about next time? Climate change is in our face.
A friend is in and out of the hospital for months. He doesn’t make it to winter. Another friend with Parkinson’s reminds me not to put things off. Do it while you can he urges.
Do what, though? What is still important to do against this backdrop of uncertainty? Against the backdrop of a limited lifespan? A limited health span?
The Seasons are Passing
I probably have a good number of tomorrows left but can’t take that for granted. Another push and pull. This gives the upcoming days have a new feel to them.
I begin to understand where I am.
One author older than I described well the autumn years. I also like the phrase young old. (That is: not old, and certainly not old old!) Living a life has offered some wisdom and a pretty tall stack of memories to thumb through. Those lookings-back are painted in larger brush strokes than they once were.
There are things I’ve taken way too seriously. And, just as people told me would happen, I remember the seriousness more than I remember the thing.
The for-real big deals? Usually losses. Scary news about health—mine or a loved one’s. So much boils down to staying in the game.
There are things that have been wonderful: Love in so many forms. Seeing someone just as they are; the flash of energy when that is mutual. Walking in the expanse of this planet. Instances of awe in my gardens. Sunlight pouring through the window in a comfortable room. Swimming in lakes. Laughing.
Do that, I realize. Find those sweet connective moments. Spend time in beautiful places.
My ambitions are shifting.
In response to these important questions, I’m cooking up some connection; read more about that.
clock image on cover page by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.