Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where do I want to be?

I was on my morning walk with Jilly. It was a damp, gray, foggy Oregon morning, nothing special. Jilly and I made our way around the lake. We said our good mornings, as usual, to all the ‘regulars’, people we pass in the park everyday. The only difference this morning was it was just Jilly and me. Michael was resting because he had a cold. I was feeling a little crabby and resentful, thinking of all the housework and chores that didn’t get done this weekend some because of Michael’s cold and some because of circumstances.

As I walked cycling through my resentments, I realized that it wasn’t really about what I thought it was about. It wasn’t about cleaning the garage or putting the knobs on the bathroom cupboards, at all. It wasn’t about feeling burdened by household chores, nope. It was about death, loss and fear.

I wasn’t really angry or resentful at Michael for having a cold. I was afraid. I realized there and then, I get scared when he gets sick. Why? Because he’s my husband, partner, best friend and I love him. I don’t want him to lose him. I don’t want to be in this world without him to share it with.

And he knew it, too. Because he said, “I’m not going to die, you know. I just have a cold.” Right. Everybody gets colds. In fact, my daughter had one last weekend and complained about the same symptoms. She’s fine. He will be, too.

So I saw my fear and nodded at it just like I nod at the ‘regulars’ I pass on my walk everyday. I felt my fear pass by me as Jilly and I walked on, too.

We passed the geese grazing on the grass and ducks swimming under the bridge. Jilly stopped to sniff the leafy mulch under the trees and I gazed out over the water to the foggy horizon. As we entered the woods, I started down our usual path intent on my usual routine – stopping by the birch clearing to do my stretches and onto the Be Tree- but I stopped. Ahead of me, across the path was a downed branch, partially blocking my way. I started to walk around the branch, but again, I stopped.

I went back to where the path was blocked, turned to face the downed branch and looked around me. What did I see?

To the right of the main path, was an open path. I decided to take it, and soon found myself at a cross roads. One path ahead led down to the lake, the other wound around to the birch clearing. On the path to the lake is a big, strong birch tree that I’ve passed many times, reaching out to it for balance on the slippery slope down to the water. It’s an old tree. That’s obvious by its height and width and deep roots. It has history in these woods, a connection and wisdom far beyond my short years here. And so, I decided to pay this tree a visit.

As I leaned back against the wide, strong trunk, thoughts ran through my head, lists of things I needed to do, places I needed to go and, of course, worry about my husband’s cold, health and happiness. My busy thoughts were, once again, covering up my real feelings, my fears not about life, but about death.

Then, one thought came up through the crowd and formed a question, “Where do I want to be?”

The wise Birch Tree answered, “Be where you are.”

I let out a breath that I didn’t realize I was holding and sighed. I didn’t need to do everything or go everywhere to escape my feelings of fear. I didn’t need to worry about my husband.

All I needed to do was follow the words, “Be where you are.”

I could see that right here, right now, everything and everyone is fine, including my husband. I smiled. I thanked the Birch Tree for her wisdom that brought such simple clarity to my day.

Where do I want to be?
Be where you are.

And Jilly and I walked on, along the open path, through the birches and home.


goldenbird said...

That was beautiful. I let out a deep breath just reading it. It's so easy to forget to be present when your mind is whirling away. Hope your husband gets better soon.

How nice to have a lake and trails and wise old trees nearby. Sounds wonderful.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Mike Turner said...

Thank you. I write to keep reminding myself to keep taking in those breaths and letting them out...and to be where I am. I'm so glad when it can help you, too. My husband is 'all better' now and out walking the lake with me and Jilly. It is a wonderful park and we feel very lucky to have it so close to home.