This has been a trying year. It has been filled with disappointment, heartache, and major frustration for someone that I love dearly. It has also been filled with uncertainties for our family and the future. And, it is all one hundred percent out of my control.
Watching a loved one hurt, sitting with uncertainty, and being out of control are three things that shoot my anxiety (and my anger) through the roof. I have been resentful, rageful, less social, depressed, protective beyond measure, and, at times, not as nice of a person as I would like. And, I have felt unsettled. It is hard to make concrete plans for the future, when much of the future lies in wait. Learning to manage my emotions around these things over an extended period of time has been a challenge that weighs on me daily.
I have had some very well-intended friends suggest staying busy to keep my mind off of everything that is happening. And, I know for some this is a great strategy. But I have tried this time and time again. I have stayed busy by working two jobs, writing and reading, exercising more, bringing the kids to their various activities, having dates with my husband, surrounding ourselves with friends and family, literally attending every summer event that we were invited to … and still, the anxiety—the stress of it all— is ever-present somewhere in my mind during everything that I do.
When all else fails, I generally know that it’s time to go back-to-basics. As a child, I never really liked the outdoors. I hated dirt and bugs, and my mom still tells of the time that I picked my feet up over my head as a toddler to avoid having my bare feet touch the grass. But as an adult, I have found that time spent with my family in nature seems to be exactly what I need to reset myself mentally.
So, yesterday, we went for a hike. We walked slowly through two miles of a tree-lined trail along the water’s edge. My children gleefully searched for nature’s “treasures,” carefully examining every pinecone, stick, and multi-colored leaf. They skipped stones across the water. My husband held their hands as they tried to balance on half-fallen trees and wet rocks. My oldest son laughed as he held a frog in his hands and watched as he hopped out of sight when he released him. We did our best animal sound impersonations and enjoyed listening as another family across the water howled back.
Toward the end of our hike, my youngest son’s legs were tired. I carried him in my arms as I walked along, trailing just a bit behind my husband and my oldest son who were holding hands. And, in the quiet of the woods, a sense of calm swept over me. I could almost hear the gentle breeze whispering to me through the leaves, reminding me that “this is what is important.”
Even amidst all of the uncertainty that has been surrounding our lives, in those woods I knew one thing for certain: These are the moments that matter. The only ones that matter.
Although we are certain that in time there will be a positive ending to our situation, in those woods, with nothing but my family and what nature has provided, I was reminded that it really does not matter how it ends. We need nothing else. We are already blessed beyond measure.
And, even if all of our uncertainties turn into tragedy, we will be okay. Because…
Even without jobs, together we would still be richer than ever before.
Even without luxury vacations, together we would still be going places.
Even without toys or games, together we would still have fun.
And, even without a house, together we are always home.
I may not have control over our circumstances right now, but I do have control over my inner state of being. And so, while we ride out this storm, waiting patiently for it to pass, I hope to keep that sense of calm within me … And when the waves get rough, may my inner peace radiate like a beacon of light, drawing my family home.
In this uncertainty, I choose to be certain…
…that these are the moments that matter.
The only ones that matter.