My son and I went outside this morning to shovel just enough so that he could pull the car out and not have to drive over and pack down the three or four inches of white slush that came down last night. I have enough cold weather and snow experience, of a life lived mostly in Central New York, to know that you don’t just drive over that small snow fall in the morning when you leave, just because you know you can and it is not going to slow you down. Unless of course you are eager to do the experiment to find out just how much of an ice base you can create on your driveway, and how many months it will take to get rid of it!!
As I am shoveling this morning, the cold snap of air against my eyes and face in combination with the movement of shoveling brought some gentle tearing to my eyes. Not from exertion or emotion, but a purely physiological response to the elements outside. It reminded me, however, of a lesson I learned many years ago when I stubbed my toe. I had been walking up some steps, and clumsily missed the next step up, and stubbed my toe. The injury was not very significant, but hurt enough to elicit tears. Next thing I knew I found those tears created an opening, and all of a sudden there I sat completely bawling, something between real serious tears, and also laughter. Tears because of the insult to my toe and ego, and also because of all the other things that had been stressful in my life at that point, that should have brought me to tears well before then, all of a sudden found their outlet of explosion. Laughter, at the instantaneous realization of what was happening.
So this morning I did not find myself turning the tears into a major crying fit, but I was surprised at how I felt that familiar opening and the vulnerability that could have easily become more than just gentle tears from moving around outside in the cold and snow. If the right person had been there and offered me ears and attention the tears could easily have become much more real. I quickly understood. The experience of falling into a major puddle from a minor stub of my toe all those years ago was a powerful experience, and it comes back to me easily. Today’s vulnerability I understand as recognition of my being at an important crossroads. It is the eve of the New Year, and floating around in my head are events of the year past and many anticipations of the year to come.
As I will be turning 50, 2008 will offer me an important landmark birthday. The years of studying, and working as a family therapist should finally pay off in the acquisition of a license from New York State, finally!! Did I say Finally?! After spending time and energy seriously panicking about whether I would accumulate the hours I need in the time frame required, it has become evident that this really will happen. For someone who despises test taking, it is an indication of the level of stress those hours were creating, to witness my relief at turning the stress of accumulating hours into relief for having to study for an exam!! And then there are my children, all of their lives and significant anticipations, and of course, my own personal life struggles. Many many places where things seem to be at important crossroads for all 5 of us.
Reflecting back on the year behind me, I am again amazed at how much can happen in a single year. I know too, that some of what will transpire in the year ahead I will easily be able to anticipate, but much of what will come will be unpredictable. Predictable or not, the result of years of striving, or spontaneous events that just seem to come out of nowhere, life offers itself up. The challenge is ours to live it to our best. To step away with a smile, and warm feeling when things fall into place as we like them. To offer our tears when they can help us along. And, to take the time to recognize our need for tears and laughter, listening and being listened to.
Many warm wishes to all for a Happy, Prosperous, Healthy New Year. May you dream ambitious dreams, may you have loved ones around you to witness your dreams, your accomplishments, and your sorrows.