The paths we walk in life are so incredibly varied. With so many options, it’s hard to understand why we limit ourselves to narrowing beliefs, habits, and patterns that commonly lead to fear, anger, and hate.
That said, I understand why we are challenged by the polar opposites of “familiarity” versus “change”. In our tumultuous world, there is strong rationale for ritual and consistency. We need to be able to trust that what happened today will happen tomorrow ... and the next day and the next day and the next day. This allows us to plant our feet firmly and plan. With consistency we are afforded a foundation that lends steadiness to our day time reality. This makes sense to me.
On the other hand, becoming rigid in this position reduces our ability to remain open to other opportunities and expand. Like a statue, we are stoic and everlasting. Cemented in stone, we limit our insight. We restrict ourselves unnecessarily. If we remained flexible, like a giant Sequoia, we would ebb and flow when the breeze gently brushed against us or the storms raged around us.
I have seen it time and time again – when we refuse to bend the pain inflicted on self and others is exponentially more painful than if we approached each other with respect, objectivity, and admiration for our individual strengths and differences.
As I gestate this new life, I have come to learn that my goal is to offer insight, inspiration, and illumination to create a space for the conversations of life we neglect. The ones that keeps us up at night, create deep abysses of sorrow, that limit our existence day in and day out.
As a social worker and a nurse I have seen so much suffering. Some of it is impossible to avoid but a lot of it is self-inflicted and – unrelinquished.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
On the other side of darkness, I have seen light. There is an abundance of compassion, empathy, and grace in our world. In ego and fear, we hold too tightly to these heart-driven gifts, restricting their release, rather than feasting on them in solidarity.
Beginning in 2004, when I started my nursing career, a pattern emerged at 2:00 AM. Conversations. With the attendings and residents gone, families were exhausted but unable to sleep. The still silence allowed their anguish and confusion to emerge. Despite the pain, these moments bloomed gently and easy. The quiet push of the air above blessed us with fresh air. I have never felt more connected and vital in my life.
As much a blessing as these connections were, it was unfortunate their hand had been forced. What I learned – while these emergent situations should have been the center of attention, an avoidance of life’s work is what actually added weight. When the unexpected brings us to our knees, decades of avoidance boils to the surface. Inconvenient as it may seem, the elephant becomes the room.
As a caregiver, it is torturous to watch these events unfold. And so, what I am advocating for is a more gentle approach in life. One that allows us to find our footing, balanced on life’s back with confidence. An approach that sets the way for us to safely explore the pain buried deep inside through the wonder that surrounds us.
Nature is healing. It can be a mentor and a friend. It is humble yet brave. In its presence we can find many a metaphor for our own lives; solace in simple moments untethered to the boundaries of our human understanding. There are no complex training regimens to connect with nature. It is all around us. She is woven into every aspect of our lives: a gentle summer breeze, a clover in a crack, an ant on the ground, a leaf on a tree.
When life is overwhelming. When sadness is oppressive. When the end is closer than the beginning – please take someone’s hand, squeeze it gently, go outside, and ask for any measure of help. There are beautiful people in this world. They want to be there. If they do not exist for you, please contact me. If not for the person you have become but the person you want to love.