It is always within us, isn’t it? This fear of a life half-lived. It pulses, sometimes quietly, other times wildly within us, like life blood, the very force which keeps us breathing and moving forward. And it is strongly contradicted by another constant, the need for comfort, for security, for rest, for safety.
These two contrasting demands surge and ebb within us, pushing us forward, then pulling us back. Some of us concede to comfort; while others allow the forces of adventure and restlessness to pull us forward to new edges, new experiences, new pain and new joy.
And this is the rub. That pain and joy so often come in pairs. That in order to experience the thrill of all that life brings we must also experience it’s valleys and canyons. Our nerve endings, so exquisitely designed to bring us the greatest pleasure imaginable are also the source of agony in times of illness or injury. They offer us the opportunity to FEEL and when we choose to feel, we feel everything, both what we crave and what we dread.
I long to free-fall, exuberant, from the rushing wind of ten thousand feet, yet the possibility of a parachute failure and my children’s imagined-motherless-future may hold me back. I dream of climbing natural rocks to great heights yet to do so requires discipline, perseverance, intense strength, and perhaps a lot of opportunities to look stupid at the beginning of the learning process. I want to be published and to do so I must write and write and write a thousand things only one of which may ever be accepted, if I’m favored. I want to work with children to hear their hearts and unlock their potential and walk them through life’s greatest wounds. And I am terrified that if I do not do so well I may only compound their pain.
I am comfortable here, in this good life I lead. And the longer I stand still the more I see it’s beauty, the beauty of growing friendships planted in the soil of shared extended community. I drive my children to schools where I know the teachers, the culture, how to make change happen. I find the best places to eat and drink and I frequent them with new friendships and old, a swirling kaleidoscope of beauty and intrigue, people who I can both admire and enjoy. My life is full.
And it’s when you become comfortable that the possibility creeps in, of just staying put, of settling in and allowing what is working to keep working. And there is no shame in that. It is a life many are called to lead. And even in the staying, the being still, there can be adventure there too, if we look hard enough we will find our challenges, and our place of growth.
At the moment I am still. But I am not pond-still . . . so still that algae creeps slowly across my surface and only the surprise of an occasional frog or water bug disturbs my surface. No, I am eddy-still . . . a swirling still that is only the pause between the first rush downstream and the next one. I wait, in this quiet pool life has brought me, slowly circling and enjoying the sights of this resting place. I am contained energy, merely waiting for the right circumstances to carry me on farther into new adventures, over new rocks and to new pools.