Easter weekend and my thoughts fly to reinvention, rejuvenation, and re-imagining what my life can be. Forget about cold Novembers in my soul, too many months in the last year have felt cold and song-less. It’s refreshing to finally find a space in my mind to rethink and begin the process of moving forward.
I have an Indian friend who, if I listen carefully enough, often presents me with pearls of wisdom. He is my surprising sage. Dinesh planted a seed in my mind last August when I was lucky enough to share a beer with him at his summer tennis club. I arrived there as the sun was setting on a warm night, after a day of tennis playoffs an hour or so south. I had finished playing late afternoon and was too wired to head home for the night. His tennis club is like a second home to me, and it turned out to be an inspired destination.
I had played two matches that day and won both. Sitting with him to debrief was great, but in a weak moment, I got a little misty. I missed my partner in life who, just a year before, would have been greedy for the details of my competitive day. The small victories in one’s daily life crave an invested audience. One of those “meaningful nothingness” things you don’t quite appreciate until it is gone.
Dinesh is an empathetic soul, and often surprising philosopher. In response to my unexpected emotion, he put his hand on my shoulder and said,
“I envy you.”
HA! How silly to envy my exposed, bereft soul. Last summer I was as lost as I could be: heartbroken, untethered, desperate for traction. Envy me? Unimaginable!
He went on,
“Within a short time, your daughter will graduate, and before you know it, your life will be full of limitless possibilities.”
Aha! The flip side of the sorrow that comes with loss. My parents both gone from the earth, my children on the precipice of independence, and no significant other with whom to meander? Dinesh equates that sad concoction to limitless possibilities?
A year ago, I had morphed into such a pathetic shell of myself that the words of my insightful friend sort of floated around me, as though they were more to be studied, figured out, than applied. My imagination for myself had gone the way of my self-esteem at that juncture. I could barely recognize me, let alone re-imagine what I could become. A year ago, all I wanted was turn back the hands of time. Undo the mounting sorrow.
In fits and starts, I would advance, but traction remained elusive. Three steps forward inevitably led to two backward. Mostly, I was disappointed in myself. I couldn’t find a way to move ahead, to let go of what diminished me.
I applied Dinesh’s observation like a mantra, wanting to believe it. Candidly, my jaded soul didn’t and the mantra took a cynical turn.
Picking up medical unmentionables for Uncle Bobby might prompt a sarcastic take,
“Right, look at me and my life of full of limitless possibilities!”
A Friday night with no company to count on might engender,
“Just me and my limitless possibilities!”
Perusal of dating sites offering tattooed, Harley riding, big game fishing men for my consideration might result in,
“Great, all these gems with whom to share my limitless possibilities.”
This past year felt like one endless limitation.
I’m not sure why, but recently Dinesh’s mantra began to resonate. I helped it along with a some literal and figurative spring cleaning. With bravado, I actually dumped the junk someone left me, right on his front stoop. As though it weren’t enough for him to bury me in his emotional junk, he left mounds of literal junk. I felt lighter in the return of it. A small, but important step in the embrace of limitless possibilities.
It’s interesting how sometimes a small step can thrust you forward. And so it was with the junk dump. The lightness I found in the result compelled me to think forward. Wistfulness was replaced by a tug of hope, a distant barely perceptible tap of actual optimism on my shoulder.
That one relatively small action gave me back some of my power, helping along the feeling that maybe it can begin to take hold. With the arrival of spring, the myth of limitless possibilities suddenly seems less like a self-deprecating mantra and more like a reachable concept.
As I write this, a message comes in from my Russian friend, who continues to humiliate me in online chess. He writes after my recent move,
“Bold move, I like it! Just don’t get carried away.”
Message received! I love a little metaphorical serendipity! A good reminder that reinvention might be best achieved in small steps. I contend that playing a Russian in chess to begin with requires a bit of cock-eyed optimism. Once upon a time, I had a stockpile of it.
So, to my Indian mystic, I say thank you for the gift of imagination for me. Rest assured, your words were not wasted on a sultry August evening, just held too carelessly. I needed time to understand them, some healing to grasp their power.
Let it begin; the rising, the planning, the rebuilding, the moving forward to something which holds promise. I have learned that the world does not stop spinning on its axis just because I choose to slow down in self-imposed sadness. I will try to be bold in imagination for myself, smart in preparation, and open to the truth that my life is indeed filled with limitless possibilities.