All Along

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

I am realizing that the big life changes we make are done fairly cluelessly. We arrange and rearrange, pretending we have control, but it’s all a crapshoot in the end. And those we love can beg and cry, asking us not to make the change – not to get married or have children or move – but we obstinately continue, confident we have our ducks in a row, our t’s crossed. And then it happens – we say the vows or give birth or find ourselves sitting in strange lands surrounded by boxes – and we get the twinge. Maybe they were right. But we power through the doubt – kiss the one we’re with, cuddle the baby and unpack the boxes – and years pass until one day the whispering gets louder. They knew what they were talking about. And then it’s in your head and its all you can think of and it makes you angry because you thought you knew – you knew how to love, how to parent, how to live – but it’s nothing like what you thought and is it possible they knew from experience?

But it’s not all that simple. It’s not a story of milestones and regrets because wrapped up in it is a sense of pride and gratitude. After all, this is your life. This is your experience. So you got married and maybe later became un-married. You had children and they did severely limit your freedoms. You moved and felt isolated. But you also truly learned how to love, how to parent and how to live. And wasn’t that the point all along?

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