This past Friday, Mike left to go backpacking for the weekend. I was having a hard week, and Friday was no different. Feeling emotional, and just plain sad, for no apparent reason other than - I suppose - feeling weighed down by life. Mike’s felt the same lately. So I was really proud of him finally going on this trip for himself. Not something a few hours away that was “good enough”, but a 7 hour drive down to a part of the Appalachian trail he has always wanted to hike.
I’ll of course let him share about that experience, but this trip of his has had a very good affect on me as well. On Friday, Shelby was with her grandparents until the evening, and Mike had left around lunchtime for his trip. I was feeling pretty crappy, and frankly, jealous of him getting to take off on an adventure. With the suggestion of a friend, I decided to seize the day. So instead of working on the computer all day long, I put on a swim suit, grabbed a cooler and snacks and books and I drove about an hour up to my favorite beach on Lake Erie for the afternoon. And there it was… that long-forgotten feeling of freedom. The feeling that you could do anything you felt like doing with your day, and just wander through it enjoying things. I can’t even tell you how long it has been since I’ve felt that. Even on a weekend.
Then yesterday, Shelby and I dressed up as pirates and went to the Renaissance Faire. For the day we enjoyed fantasy and mystery and magic. Dragons and jousting and lemonade and sugary treats. It's been a much needed break from everyday life...
I remember a time so many more of my days felt open with possibility. Back in Texas, when I had no real direction and could choose to do whatever I wanted with my free time. In our life now, we often feel so beholden to schedules and grandparents and expectations and finances that we have all but lost that feeling of possibility this year it seems. Some stuff we can't avoid. But some, we can. Now that over half the year has gone by, I think we are both looking back and wondering, what happened?
The biggest lesson that Drew’s death gave me was to live in the moment more. To live for today. To not worry so much about the little things and to embrace the possibilities in the now. I think life has swallowed me up though this year and I’ve lost touch with that lesson a lot.
Hearing Mike talk about his trip before he left reminded me of something else too… it reminded me of listening to Drew talk about flying. I could see the light in his eyes again, one I haven’t seen much of this year. I could feel his soul coming alive in that beautiful way that I remember Drew’s did when he would be about to go up for a flight. And all I could think is that I want more of that. In whatever way we can make it happen.
Having him away this weekend, of course I’m having triggery thoughts too… “what if he gets hurt on the trail and dies out there?” “What if he gets in a car wreck?” “What if that goodbye kiss on Friday was our last?” Since Drew died while on a trip, I will always have these thoughts. Even now, Mike is still gone, so I still don’t know that goodbye was not our last. But we never do, do we? That’s the hardest thing.
But along with all of that, there has been the excitement of the new. New adventures that my partner is having and all the wonderful stories I will get to hear about when he returns. I’ve gotten a few phone calls whenever he has managed to have some phone service along his trip too, and already gotten to hear much of it. And suddenly I realize, I miss this. I miss the version of him that he is when he feels free and able to explore. The man he is when he isn’t weighing himself down with worrying about everyone else. I miss the version of myself I am when there is adventure and possibility happening for my person and for myself too. Suddenly I am looking back and seeing that we got very derailed from some of the things that are very important to us this year.
Something he mentioned in his post a few weeks ago was about creating a new 5 year plan… a plan to move out of the city and have a fresh start - perhaps in the mountains. So far, we are already doing really well at being disciplined and being in a better place financially down the road. And who knows, maybe we will make a move sooner than 5 years, but until then, we’ve also got to have a Today Plan. As I’m learning lately… there is no good in planning for a beautiful life later when your day-to-day life is feeling shitty. You’ve got to work on that first. Best to commit to claiming happiness right now while we also plan for what’s ahead.
So I’m thinking, it’s time that we rearrange our priorities a bit. It’s time we remember the lessons that our dead people have taught us… to live boldly, to do things we love in life, to be with the people that light up our hearts and make us laugh, and not to worry about what anyone else thinks of it.
Sure grandparents would like it if Shelby were just constantly available to them for visits whenever they want. Certainly we could save more money for the future if we don’t take any trips at all. But none of that is allowing us to have one vitally important thing - the feeling of joy we get from exploring, adventuring, and having some freedom to do what we like. Everyone needs that.
The joyful stuff needs to be right up there with all the other important things. Why the hell shouldn’t it be? What is the point of even being here if our joy is not just as important to take care of as all of our other responsibilities? I'm not sure how I've lost sight of this idea, yet again. But life has a way of running us over, doesn't it? I sometimes feel like life is just a series of cycles of remembering and forgetting to put my joy first. Lord knows I've played this cycle out many times already in my 34 years.
For now at least, I'm grateful to be seeing a bit more clearly once again, and hoping that we are both ready to start being responsible for our own joy and the joy of our little blended family, day by day.