Life lately has felt a little like a hurricane, a chaotic maelstrom, a funnel of wind picking up tons of dust, but the occasional piece of tinsel too. I’m standing in the middle of it – though not quite in the eye, because it’s definitely not eerily calm – and trying to keep my eyes open even as the flotsam and jetsam in the air stings them.
And this tornado is not because of holiday craziness; I’m happy with my efforts to pare down this season to what matters to us. It’s more how quickly everything is flying by: the years are spinning so quickly I feel dizzy, the ground is shifting under my feet, the room tips regularly as I survey it, stunned by how everything is precisely the same as and utterly different from the last time I looked.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was sitting at the littlest kids’ holiday concert at Grace and Whit’s school, with both of them crowded onto my lap? She was in first grade and he was a Beginner. Seriously: that was yesterday. But wait! It’s her mouth in those picture that’s missing teeth, and his hair looks distinctly shaggier. In fact they don’t both fit on my lap like that anymore. This year will be my last year attending that concert, with its sit-on-the-floor informality and small voices singing Jingle Bells and our favorite, Snowpants. Never again.
Oh, I am such a cliche, but it’s all so true. Life’s river swirls on and on, consistent and yet ever-changing, and I struggle to keep my balance in the rapids. The whitewater isn’t so different from the dust; they both sting me a lot and scare me a little, and can get in the way of all the beauty.
I so desperately want to keep my eyes open despite all that dust, so that I can see the sparkle of the tinsel. It reminds me of an evening recently when I was chopping onions over the sink. My eyes were filled with tears and I rubbed at them with my knuckles, trying to clear my vision. As I was doing this, Grace exclaimed, “Look! It’s our cardinal! In the back yard!” I tried hard to open my eyes, to see the bright red bird through the sluice of my tears. I saw the red, though it was streaked with tears, and it hurt a bit to open my eyes.
Maybe this is just the lesson. It hurts a little, and it’s not always completely clear, but if we keep our eyes and our hearts open we can see the color, the shimmer, the shine.
Get Lindsey's thoughts on mindful living and parenting in your inbox