I spent two weekends this month driving across the Southwestern United States traveling both toward and away in an undulation that highlighted a little bit of what it feels like to come and go. Away from our home, toward my husband’s family. Away from our family and toward our home. Leaving as I was going and arriving even as I left.
Life seems to be a process of leaving and arriving, heading toward and walking away. There is expectation and sadness mixed up in the movement, and sometimes it feels like we are precariously perched in the middle of our own goings on.
I was excited to leave town and head toward Thanksgiving and people and fields full of cows on the farm where my husband’s parents call home. But I was also stressed and tangled in the deadlines and must-dos of my life that I felt like I was being dragged away from at 75 miles an hour. And then after a week, I was sad to leave the home that is not my own. Sad to drive down the gravel lane with lots of hands waving us goodbye as we headed home. But I was happy too…happy to go home and be back to my bed and my coffee and my life.
There are days when I am starting to feel like the sole goal of adulthood is feeling settled. Knowing who you are, where you are, and then sitting in your life and feeling the ground solid beneath your feet. It does not seem lofty. It does not echo my childhood dreams of changing the world. Instead it almost flies in the face of those dreams.
Change…the inevitable silent creeper of adult life that calls you like a siren in your youth convincing you that it is the thing. Under its influence, I remember imaging that if only I could effect change, all would be right. Little did I know that change will find you. It will pounce on you in the dark. It will creep up to your window and whisper. It will wiggle into your life uninvited, and you will spend your moments fighting it. You will go to the gym to ward it off. You will use wrinkle cream and eat what you ate when you were a kid just so you remember what it was like to not have bills.
And then sometimes you will embrace change. You will see that it is the way to a better you. It is exactly what you need. It is your dreams, those same ones you’ve had for so long, coming true and waiting for you to join them.
And you will not feel settled.
You will be scared.
And you will panic and try to remind yourself that being settled is the goal.
And then you will breathe in deeply. And remember.
You will remember that just like everything else, change is good and bad. And you were right to embrace it and strive for it and use it to help to make the world a better place. But you were also naïve, and you couldn’t see that it was also going to sometimes run faster than you could and overtake you and happen to you and not ask you if you liked what it was doing.
And you beat your feet solidly on the ground. Both of them. Feeling the hard dirt give a little as the gravel slides underneath you.
And you cry a little for the changes you don’t want.
And you smile a little for the ones that are beautiful.
And you remind yourself that it’s not about being settled, in one place, unmoving.
No…it is about learning to be settled in your soul while you balance in the middle of a life that is a moving target and you are traveling along with it.
On a two-day drive, the landscape changes a lot. Sometimes it is plains reaching endlessly in either direction until stalks of wheat fall off the horizon, and sometimes it is tall buildings and intersecting freeways. But during a drive across the Southwest, the view is often the desert, a desert full of tumbleweed and dust and rocks. The scenes of the arid beauty fly past your window, and the red rocks reach to the sky, their faces worn with the changes of time, creviced, cracking, and beautiful. You watch as the clouds overtop of them turn from white to pink to brilliant orange and then grey. The sun dips below the brush covered mountains, and you are one step closer to home or maybe one step further away. In the moment of the undulation, you aren’t exactly sure. But as you watch the now grey clouds move across the sky and the red rocks begin to look grey in the fading light, you see the change. Change that brings both beauty and the dark.
You breathe into your soul, a place where you can feel your feet hit the ground, and you watch as the now dark pinnacles of stone whirr by.
And you know that you will keep leaving and arriving, and you will continue to simultaneously ward off and welcome change, and in the moving and the undulations your life will become ever more yours and ever more real.