Thursday, March 18, 2010


My daughter began her day with her favorite blocks and two Boston Terrier stuffed dogs. She created an elaborate two-story house for the dogs - complete with staircase and turret - and proudly showed her efforts to me and my husband as soon as we arose.

She told me she wanted to leave it up, and I complied... warily watching her colt-like movements as she danced, kicked, and flitted around the building (already leaning precariously to one side).

And then the not-so-inevitable occurred. Around 1pm, she unintentionally smacked into the structure... and down it toppled. At which point she began sobbing, in earnest, with very large tears rolling down her pain-contorted cheeks.

I held her and rocked her and kissed her tears... and after a while she calmed down - and then let go and moved on to something else, leaving behind her woeful protestations and her fervent wish to have it all back the way it was before.

Mirror. Mirror. Mirror.

It's been startling to me lately how many things in life provide opportunity for reflection if I am aware enough to notice something is very politely staring me in the face and patiently waiting for the epiphany of recognition.

Impermanence had already been in my thoughts. A possible post for yesterday, the unfinished page sat waiting in queue when I logged in, and so the event of the blocks, the crash, and the aching sadness seemed all too apropos to ignore.

While my little bunny struggles with the unpredictability of toys and the loss of things we love, I have been watching her race ahead into developmental territory so much more aptly described as "little girl" than "toddler." She gallops into greater physical, mental, and emotional dexterity... and then crashes back past her theoretically current state to stand startled and upset within the supposedly abandoned land of "baby."

This wave-like motion behind and beyond her present age has been a great reminder of the cyclical and ceaseless process of growth and personal evolution. Even more surprising is to step back a bit and realize the tidal flow of identity, maturity, and stability hardly remains confined to children and adolescents.

My career process has been a rolling ebb and wane of decision-making, hesitation, redirection, self-efficacy, values clarification, trust, and all manner of psychosocial minutia... as has my growth in the areas of intimacy, self-concept, spirituality, and intellect.

And while the impermanence of life skips across our path infinitely (seasons, emotions, friendships, finances, beliefs, bodies, feelings...), we sometimes have the tendency to forget (or perhaps deny) a few very important things:

  • Life does not stand still; change unfolds before us in nearly all moments.
  • There is no forever. Sometimes this is wonderful. Sometimes this is painful.
  • We move back and forth across the spot we think we should be; every place we inhabit is.

I make the mistake of holding on too tightly sometimes, I think, to what I want instead of what is. And I get especially tense and clamped up when what is refuses to be still long enough for me to decide I want it.

Not so different, really, from sitting in the middle of the floor lamenting my disappeared building... insistent in my pain because my love feels greater than my loss - and neither were supposed to move without my approval.

I take a lesson from my daughter, who dives into her sadness with full-throated commitment and later emerges without looking back... pouncing on a new moment with present-focused gusto and a willingness to let go of the illusion of always.

May the ceaseless flow of your life bring you comfort and provide numerous opportunities to practice acceptance and release. May the folly of forever be met with humor and patience.

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