Familiar and Unfamiliar

Warm and Sunny

Slowing down and allowing myself to feel the fatigue that I have resisted for a long time has side effects I wouldn’t have foreseen. Opening the door to disavowed feelings and sensations means opening a can of worms. I can’t just choose what I’m willing to feel that’s inside. The last couple of days I’ve run up against an uncomfortable and unwelcome feeling of discouragement. I try to make it go away, but it’s persistent, and even today’s sunshine wasn’t making much of a dent. I was plowing through unread emails this morning and responding to things I’d put off when I finally had had enough, put on my sneakers, grabbed my camera and took my dogs on a romp through the wooded area near our house. That’s about the only thing I can do that is guaranteed to distract me.

My pen will never save me from myself, but my camera might. Through it’s lens I rediscover wonder, and marvel at what remains invisible until I am crouching on the ground trying to get a better angle on the horsetail shoot that has just emerged from the ground, or the fungus growing on a fallen branch. Otherwise, I’m often moving too fast to notice these things. Today’s warmth and sunshine invited distraction and lingering over violets, lichen, and bits of moss. Ultimately, I had to hurry home to go pick up Charlotte at the airport. She’s home for spring break.

In some ways, having her home heightens the feeling of being “in-between”. All three kids at the dinner table is a flash-back to a time when I wasn’t attempting to integrate a new way of being with an old way. It feels both more familiar and suddenly unfamiliar. I love having her here, but its only been since she’s been gone that I’ve acutely felt that I’m in between two epochs of life and don’t yet know how to manage it. Certainly it all began several years ago, but seeing her off to college in the fall opened up the time for me to embrace photography and writing in a new and more consuming way. I suddenly feel that difference. Last time she was living at home, my role as stay-at-home mom was still more intact.

After commenting in last night’s post about my kids reactions to my camera, I had to post the following. It was not staged:

Some things don't change

Last night I read an article by David Whyte called, The Poetic Narrative of Our Times. In it he speaks to the uncertainty of in-between-times much more eloquently than I could ever hope to, but it struck a chord with me as in the same vein with the “threshold” feeling that I’ve been dancing with and around for the last few days. His description refers not to a moment in an individual’s life, but to the threshold we, as human beings, seem to be living on, “At the present time we are asked to live in companionship with patterns and dynamics that are either disappearing, have not fully emerged or can never be fully named; patterns perhaps already changing into forms for which we have yet no language.”  The article speaks of the necessary heartbreaks of any life, be it individual or collective. He speaks, both in this article and in his poetry, of heartbreak and loss, and how fully experiencing these uncomfortable moments in our lives leads to a richer and more abundant experience of life as a whole. With that in mind, how can we do other than to thrash about on the threshold, trying to avoid the plunge into the unknown that lies on the the other side. We will have to leave behind parts of our identity that won’t fit or don’t work anymore when we finally let go and fall across the threshold into a new stage of living.

I love finding “evidence” that corroborates my experiences. Its been feeling scary and lonely standing on the threshold. If I feel like the whole of humanity is there with me, its not so intimidating. Noticing that my 13 year old and 17 year old are at transitional points in their lives and reading David Whyte’s wisdom helps. I am sure that the uncomfortable feeling, thrashing about, gleaning the last of the harvest from one stage of life while learning the ropes for the next is a common experience for many people at any moment in time. Human beings are always at beginning and ending points, but it seems to be more acute right now. It seems more global. The stakes are higher in the wider world, and they seem personally higher to me too.


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