Clarity Part 3: Don’t pitch that tent!

If you’ve been reading my blog lately ( Clarity Part 1 & Clarity Part 2 here) you’ll know that I’ve been focusing in on what is and is not mine. The latest iteration of that came this morning, as I was having breakfast with a dear friend. When I arrived she looked at me curiously, noticing my slightly off-kilter affect, and her kind eyes opened the emotional floodgates.

This last week has been full of challenging emotions for me. 17 years ago, my youngest sister Eleanore died in tragic and unexpected circumstances in late July, and her memorial service was a week later, on what would have been her 12th birthday. Every year, grief comes flooding back in different forms and at different times, but it always appears around this anniversary week. I began trying to describe the strange state of grief I was experiencing to my friend, and asked her if it was weird to be there 17 years later.

“I don’t know” she said, and as our conversation continued I realized that my work was to observe the place I was in, not bypass or ignore it, and still keep moving through it. When I get hit by grief, it gets sticky, like I’m in this place where I could spend the rest of my life reliving the past, experiencing the traumas again and again. For me, the most important thing to do is to keep moving, not set up camp and stay put.  I began laughing as I realized the truth of the words. “Let it be what it is, but whatever you do, don’t pitch a tent Arwen! You’re not staying there.”

This whole conversation was not more than 10 minutes before we continued on to enjoy our time together, but the impact of these words has been vibrating through me all day long.

So, without further ado, here are my marching orders:

  1. Let it be what it is, observe it
  2. Notice when things get sticky
  3. Keep moving (don’t pitch a tent!)

Because, in the end, the traumas did happen, and they made me who I am. I don’t know who I would be were it not for all the good and hard things that occurred in the past, because every step has led me to this moment right here. For me, holding onto and reliving the traumas of the past feels like trying to live in the past, and that doesn’t work. So my job is to be here now.

May we all let ourselves be here now.

Happy Birthday Eleanore – I miss you, and I’ll see you on the other side of this world ocean.