When you do things from your soul you feel a river moving through you, a joy. –Rumi
She resisted with excuses about why it was not a good idea but her dad lovingly persisted. With some grumbling, she reluctantly agreed to the suggestion that she practice driving on a rainy summer night. She grabbed her learner’s permit and we all buckled up.
We travel slowly along the two lane primary road and as she slowly approached an intersection she apprehensively asked, “Do I have the right of way?” Her dad responded, “the green arrow means that you do”. She exhales and then proceeds slowly across the intersection. “Coast, accelerate, coast” are the instructions that he calmly gives her. She follows his instructions with laser focus. She is nervous but quietly determined.
I sit in the backseat as my fifteen year old daughter pensively learns how to drive. While I quietly ride, I also reflect on on the fleeting nature of time. Where have the past fifteen years gone? I can vividly remember her in an infant car seat located exactly where I was now positioned. Fifteen years have sailed by unassumingly but that time has been punctuated by milestones like these that jolt me into the reality of her maturation.
Across the span of our lives we experience countless inflections points. These events are celebrated when they occur but soon those encounters fade from our consciousness like the transition from winter to spring. When we stop and reflect on those transitions, it is easy to recall how those moments made us feel but it is not always as easy to uncover how those experiences change us and allow us to become more of ourselves.
Every transition is an act of risk taking and courageous rebellion. These moments are a signal that we are ready to move from one state of being to another. On those occasions, we do not usually realize that the event marks a period that will forever change who we are in seemingly insignificant but profound ways. Fortunately, our subconscious self realizes that “the risk to remain tight in a bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom”. So bloom we must–exhaling and releasing into those moments. Sometimes we release and feel symptoms of anxiety, discomfort and panic. Other times, we find that the act of courage emboldens and pushes us forward with a flood of joy and trembling.
We should embrace our moments of change even when they are uncomfortable and destabilizing. The in-between times are difficult because we have not mastered the new state but have outgrown the old. Those feelings of uncertainty can produce grief and anger concealing our fear of failure. That was what my husband and I recognized in our daughter’s initial rebuttals. Fear wears many masks. We are understandably tempted to retreat to what we know and seek out the familiar. That is okay. We will eventually muster the courage to begin again when our inner compass prods us to feel the fear and do it anyway.
When we pulled into the driveway, she smiled with pride and said, “that was scary”. I smiled and I could feel her exhilaration.
She asked me later than evening, “would you parachute off of a cliff?” I quickly replied ‘no’ and explained the reasons why the risks made that proposition a non-starter. However, I stepping back to reflect on why she was asking. She wanted to understand my risk tolerance. She was interested in understanding how I determine which risks in life are worth taking and whether I was inclined to feel fear and do something anyway. I continued my response by explaining my journey to explore what risks I want to take at this stage in my life.
While I am by no means an extreme sport adventure seeker, I would love to ride horse along the outer banks, practice yoga on a paddle board and go on a silent retreat in the mountains of Colorado to become totally consumed and intoxicated by the beauty of our natural world. I am also prepared to be the wind in my daughter’s sails as she discovers the heights and depths that she wants to travel across the journey of her life. That is scary but exhilarating proposition.
We are all drawn to new experiences over the course of our lives. There is something within us that recognizes the interconnection between our self and the majesty and wonder of the world outside of us. That inner knowing stirs our spirit and nudges us to take whatever next step is most appropriate. Coast…accelerate…coast. May we all let off the gas, lean into the unknown, power through the fear and exhale; allowing momentum and faith to carry us through our transitions.
Photo by Stijn Dijkstra