Such is the passage of time
Too fast to fold
And suddenly swallowed by signs
Low and behold
(Eddie Vedder, Rise)
One morning last week, I found myself in a pissy mood. For no obvious reason, I felt agitated, annoyed and cranky. The mood would not abate. So, I sought refuge in the trees. I pulled on my hiking shoes and forced the kids to the forest with me. They wanted to stay home and play on the iPad.
We got to the hiking spot and pulled into the nestled parking spot. Often, just the crunch of the tires on the gravel of the parking space will ricochet me from any funk into the woods, into the present moment. Not today. Nature immediately swallowed Abby and Henry, however, and engulfed them with her magic. They transformed, high from just being there, surrounded by vast stretches of oak and maple, ferns and the pungent smell of the earth. The iPad was long forgotten. I, however, wasn't so easily swayed. My persistent crankiness held on with a firm grip. No matter how hard I pounded the ground, feeling my feet contact the Earth, I could not escape the nagging swirl.
The kids found inspiration at every turn--mud from the hurricane rains! Downed tree trunks became draw bridges carrying us from one side of the muddy trail to the other. Bridges allowed us to safely cross a coursing stream, her water's path carrying tinctures of conversation and bubbling laughter.
As we neared the end of our hike, Abby asked that we all give thanks. In her beautiful eight-year-old voice, she spoke clearly and purposefully,
Thank you for our oxygen, for the trees, for the ground and this beautiful day.
Her words softened me. I felt like I was finally able to leave my head and join the hike. Her words allowed me to offer my own less-gracious but just-as-sincere silent supplication,
I am grateful to be. Be full of everything and anything that I bring to this moment, even this annoyance, this mood. I am open.
I softened just a bit . I opened.
The morning was warm. And although the sky still held the summer sun, the first traces of autumn hid in the shade of the tall, tall trees. I stopped. I inhaled the scent of fall. I looked down and noticed the first colored leaf of fall:
My funk began became less random and began to make sense. I realized that I was in limbo. Straddling a bridge between two seasons, two parts of the trail, two intermingling realities, two different, yet overlapped, scenes of life.
Summer and fall. Tan lines and backpacks, filled to the brim with crisp notebooks and unsharpened pencils. Beach chairs crusted with white sand and a soft rain of falling leaves. Children home and children gone. Euphoria about once again having time to myself (craving it, able to taste my need for it, counting-down-the-days-until-I-have-it) co-mingling with a creeping sadness about Abby and Henry's return to school. The cold rush of realization swooshed in, time's swift passage lingering in its shadows.
Such is the passage of time
too fast to fold
Swallowed by opposing emotions. Hooray for the start of school! But if school starts, it's another year. A sign that Abby and Henry are one year older. Swallowed by signs marking the constant growth of my children and my constant desire to slow. it. the. fuck. down. All highlighted by my sudden, unexpected tears, also swallowed, surprising me with their force.
Last week, I volunteered at Welcome Night at Abby's elementary school. This is a night for new students to visit and become more comfortable with the school's layout. I was stationed at the front door, welcoming families as they came in. Most of the visiting families came with starting Kindergarteners. In their faces, I saw timid smiles. I found searching, nervous eyes. I saw white-knuckled hands of parents holding soft, still-pudgy hands of their babies. I found jubilant skips and boisterous, barely-able-to-contain-it excitement. More than once, I saw myself.