This morning as I ran up the hill and across the bridge over the train tracks that carry goods from the Port of Vancouver to the interior of our province and beyond, the cold north wind blew against me. I assumed a head down fighting position and forged on despite the roar in my ears and the sudden slowing of my pace, and the metaphor did not escape me. That north wind felt like my life over the past few weeks. It whirled and swirled and gusted somewhat mercilessly trying to catch me up in its confusion and breathless assault on my senses. Still, I went on, doing what I do, pressing on and trying to make sense of things to figure out just what my role was in the midst of it all. I knew, despite my efforts to keep my chin up, that my struggles were showing because earlier this week my teenage daughter came up to me and said, "You look like you need a hug," and gave me one.
As I ran I wondered at the wisdom of nature: She knows when to end one season and start another, she embraces change because she has no choice; she knows change is a necessary part of life, and yet we humans resist and fight it. Dumb humans. However, to be fair, humans have choices, which makes our lives challenging because we also have human nature; we have pride, fear, and differences in temper to deal with. It is tempting to think during these times of difficulty that the end result will be a massive change in one's life, if only we can get through them. I've learned that is rarely the case. I used to, when I was younger, look for a big dramatic event, such as moving or changing jobs, as a means to escape or make sense of whatever I was going through emotionally. I now know that these periods of stress and internal battle are usually about something less obvious. A choice is often necessary to be made in the end, but it can take a long time to come to it if it is to be made sensibly and thoughtfully and not as an emotional reaction. Sometimes the answer is in doing what one already does, but in a different and better way.
As I gratefully turned off the bridge and rounded the corner onto the protected downward slope the wind had no power there. I left her to rage behind me and took the chance to speed up my pace. I began to feel better and stronger. The road was quiet once again and as I passed the steep track on the right that leads up to the water tower I thought perhaps one day I might attempt to run up it. I would have to be in a bit better shape. It had been weeks since I had been able to run; my sinus cold had prevented me. It was good to have hope of one day running up that track, to know that one day I could rise to that challenge and perhaps even make it to the top. It occurred to me that my life was back on track, too. My mind was much calmer than it had been in weeks, my attitude more positive and my purpose more defined, even though I had yet to know what my choices would be when it came to finally making them.
I knew I was feeling more myself yesterday when I ran into a friend whom I had been meaning to have over for a visit all year - and I invited her, her husband and son for tea today. I'd had an idea to dust off some of my son's Lego to give my friend's son something fun to do at our house. My son, in his later years of Lego collecting, had kept his sets stored separately. I took down the large Medieval castle set from the shelf in my son's closet and began to put it together on the living room floor. Putting it together proved to be slow going and when my youngest daughter had recovered from her day of school she began to help me sort through the hundreds of pieces. I took a break to bake something for the next day and heat up our leftovers for supper. Then our eldest daughter came home from her after-school job at the dental office, ate supper, and then also could not resist the building of the Lego castle. We worked together a bit until my traffic weary husband and second son came home from attending a university open house in Vancouver and I jumped up to help them get their supper, too. They wanted to know why we were building the Lego castle and I told them about our guests and their son due the next day. After they ate our son also joined in the building, and with his help the castle was completed in no time at all. I knew that is how it would be - if you put Lego out, kids cannot resist building it. Sometimes adults, too.
There was something so satisfying about putting all the Lego pieces together to build something I know our little friend will be thrilled with. When life feels complicated, being able to concentrate on something simple that will give someone joy seems to be the balm in my Gilead. My son carefully placed the knights, the king and the dragon and the ghouls around the castle. This morning I will do some more baking with my daughter, and walk downtown to shop for some fruit and cheese for our tea. I will ask my careful son to move the castle up onto the coffee table for little George. If he gets bored of that, we also have a Viking ship and fortress, a minature Ferrari sports car, a Harry Potter train, a deep-sea diving submarine and countless other sets he can build. I am sure someone here will be willing to help him.
There's good soup simmering over at Stella's Virtual Cafe. Just click on the link above the cafe sign on the upper right hand of my blog.