Living (Fiction)

8-31 Leap

Two months ago, I had an epiphany of sorts… a life-changing moment that happened in the midst of the ordinary.  In the timeline of our lives, it isn’t often we can identify those moments at the exact time we breathe them, but here’s the story of my moment.

I sat on the sun-baked rock clothed in Capri pants and a t-shirt.  I didn’t hike to the waterfall to jump in; I came to clear my mind and watch the crazy people leap into the murky unknown.  And the pool of water had turned an icky shade of brown after the last monsoon storm.  My mind never slowed as it ran through all the things that could go wrong.  You could slip off Lloyd’s Log and bust your head open.  I mean, the log was probably named for Lloyd after he did just that.  Lloyd’s body could have still been there for all I knew.  The old log could break and impale you as you plummet into the water.  You could over or under-shoot the leap and break your legs on rocks jutting out that are obscured by the muddy brown pool.  You could belly flop and drown after the wind is knocked from your lungs.  The list went on.

I held my breath every time a child leaped from the carved log and exhaled each time their head bobbed back to the surface.  In between, I’d shake my head and wonder why the parents didn’t protect their children.  If I had a child, I would never let them do something so dangerous.  I scanned the dozens of people around me and tried to match the offspring.  I grew bored with the game when the string of unmatched jumpers grew too long for me to manage.

My attention turned to the children and the way they would just jump, arms spread wide, legs tucked, into the unknown.  They had no fear.  I wondered what it was like to not be restrained by the shackles of consequences.  How did it feel to experience flight, even for just a few seconds before plunging into the water?  I puzzled over how an anyone could jump without knowing for certain it was safe.  But they did.  Some hesitated, but eventually they leaped.  I imagined their eyes squinted closed, but still, they jumped.

I looked down at my faded brown pants and the realization came to me:  at least they came prepared to let go.  In that moment, I saw my street clothes as an outward representation of my abundant supply of fears.  A more alarming thought surfaced:  I breathed, but I didn’t live.  

On impulse, I unlaced my shoes and set them beside me.  I peeled the damp socks from my pale, hardly-seen-sunshine feet.  I stood and took a deep breath before walking toward the water.  I gasped as the shock of cool water met my hot skin.  Thigh-deep in the unknown, I considered turning back.  But I’d gone this far.  I continued until my feet no longer touched the bottom, then I swam toward Lloyd’s log.  I shimmied up the submerged log and crawled up the crudely-carved stairs.  With shaky legs, I stood on the last step.  Things that could go wrong began to cloud my mind, but I jumped before they could paralyze me.

I didn’t hit my head on the log.  The log didn’t crack and I didn’t break any bones.  Lloyd’s corpse didn’t reach up and pull me under.  I wasn’t afflicted with flesh-eating bacteria.  The silt washed off my skin in a warm shower.

The thing is, my outward appearance is no different than it was before, but the moment I leaped from Lloyd’s Log with my arms stretched like a bird in flight, I lived.

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This story is fiction but was inspired by some real thoughts and introspection that I’ve had.  At church on Sunday, they talked of faith.  Faith is often believing in something we cannot see or prove, and trusting that the outcome will be for our good.  Fear is the exact opposite of faith. When there is fear, faith is a risk.  Like the character in this story, I tend to see all the harmful/dangerous things that could come from any given situation.  I recognize that I need to lean on my faith more.

Still, I did not leap into the nasty murky water from a carved log. There are certain things I couldn’t work past… like, where do all these beer-drinking people go to the bathroom?  Oh, I knew….

Baby steps 🙂

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Freedom (Haiku and Life)

Mirrored emotions:

Letting go, pulling away;

We’re both bound to grow.

06-02 Bird

This will be the first week in a long time that I won’t be linking up to any writing prompt sites. Normally, I like the challenge of channeling my emotions into a prompted response. I decided to go “free” because this week is different. Tomorrow, my baby will be leaving on an 8-day trip to Lake Powell with his Boy Scout troop. Well, he’s not my youngest (he’s my first baby) but still, he hasn’t been away from me for that long before. And I’m a mom: I worry. That is the one thing as a parent I’m certain I do well.

Right now, our emotions are polar opposites. My nervousness at letting him go is equally matched by his excitement to experience freedom outside the constraints of our family. The more I tell him I love him and will miss him, the more he says he can’t wait to go. (I think he will miss me, maybe a little. Then again, my view of reality might be skewed!)

If I didn’t trust the scoutmaster, I couldn’t take this tentative step. He is patient with the children and with this mom who struggles with reigning in her protectiveness. Yes, I will make sure he doesn’t drown in the lake. No, he won’t skip dinner and pig out on snacks.  Yes, I will make sure he brushes his teeth.  No, you can’t call him because there is little, if any, cell service.

Originally, my husband planned to go and take our younger son. When he lost his job in March, that plan fell through. He has found another job, but hasn’t been there long enough to ask for so much time off. It would cost too much to pay for two more people to go and lose a week’s pay as well. Yep, my older son got lucky 🙂

As I’m writing this, my sons are fighting… shouting, really, as they fold laundry. Perhaps this week-long trip won’t be so bad…

Opportunity: Take It And Run

A missed Sunday blog post (gone camping.)  A Monday holiday post (Presidents Day – no work.)  A Tuesday that felt like a Monday (have you ever been late for work because you lost your car keys…and finally found them in the car’s trunk?)

It’s madness, I tell you!  I put the brakes on the crazy train by posting this on Thursday – a regularly scheduled post day.  Ahhhh, regularity is a good thing.

I have as many things on my to-do list as the Presidential candidates have barbs for their opponents.  But, unlike the candidates, I’m taking this opportunity to let it go.  All 3 blog posts I wanted to do for next week probably won’t get done.  I choose to view this as helping all of you out with your ‘to do’ lists because reading my blog posts (or deleting the email without reading) is one less thing you’ll have to manage 🙂

This is a big step for me because when I set goals for myself (like posting 3 days a week) I don’t like to fail.  However, I’ve banged my head against enough walls (figuratively speaking) to know that the result is a big fat headache – every time.

Aiding me in letting go, was Nancy’s blog post Killing Time – Building Tunnels to Nowhere because it made me think about how best to spend my time.  Unfortunately, some “tunnels to nowhere” can’t be eliminated until I win the lottery.

No way around the commute to work...

But others, such as obsessing over a missed post, or worse, writing something just for the sake of posting should go.

Yes, this messed up week is an opportunity to give my mind permission to focus on getting ready for my New Orleans trip and spending time with my family.  Don’t get too excited – I can’t stop writing completely any more than I can stop breathing…there will be at least one post 🙂

Speaking of opportunity, check out someone who knows how to seize an opportunity and run:

Older son caught a lizard and named it "Carmella" - 'her' first glimpse of opportunity
Before my son could release the lizard where he caught it, she took opportunity and ran up his sleeve with it!

 

Another Big Step In Letting Go

Well, I finally did it.  I feel it’s important to add that I didn’t cry and even managed a smile.  Last week, I filled out and submitted the registration paperwork for my baby to start Kindergarten.  In August, I will be snapping pictures of my baby all dressed for his first day of school, donning brand-new sneakers that will not look so shiny at the end of the day, and a backpack that is not the stuffed-animal looking bear one that he uses right now. 

Bear Backpack (nearing retirement)

His big boy backpack will be filled with crayons, paper and folders for homework <gasp> instead of stuffed animals and Hot Wheels.  He will be wide-eyed and excited for his new adventure, and I’ll either be at work, or taking the day off to nurse my emotional wounds with a pint (or half gallon?) of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Some days I want to say, “Can I button your shirt for you?  I know you can do it yourself, but why not let mommy do it for old time’s sake?”  I’d like to think this is somewhat normal, although in reality it’s probably a huge warning sign that I need professional help.  I comfort myself with the fact that I haven’t asked him to wear a diaper for “old time’s sake” – because that would just be wrong, wouldn’t it?  (I’m semi-conscious of the idea that wanting to do stuff for him that he can do himself so I feel needed is just as unfair to him.)

He will never know how much I struggle to step back and let him go.  Since the moment he was born, I’ve been raising him to not need me.  I’ve known this in the back of my mind all along, but distracted myself from it as I changed his diapers, taught him to feed and dress himself and bandaged his scrapes.  When he shied away from independence, hiding behind my legs, I gave him pep talks, patched him up and sent him back into life – all while resisting my urge to keep him hugged tight and protected.

I’ve managed to let him go little by little his entire life.  I pray for the strength to do it again gracefully (and tearlessly) in August.  After all, a little big boy should have his mind on his new adventure, not whether there will be any ice cream left in the house when he gets home 🙂

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Speaking of ice cream, I have a special treat in store for Wednesday’s post – a guest.  I will keep you in suspense until then, but on Wednesday, this person will post here and I will post on their blog.  This person suggested that we both write a blog post with the title, “But Everyone Else Is Doing It.”  I agreed it would be a fun idea to see where we each take the topic, so please, check out both posts and let us know what you think!