I was talking to a friend of mine the other night about music. It was harmless enough—talking about Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins—but then nostalgia started doing the thing it does, when it instantly beams you back to a long forgotten moment in time and makes you feel things you don’t necessarily want to feel, but it hurts so good. It’s that car wreck that keeps you from averting your eyes. Ya know what I mean?
On this particular trip down memory lane, I landed back at my high school orientation. As I recall, that 14-year-old girl felt many things that day: scared, shy, embarrassed, lonely, and exposed. What will usually happen on a look-back, such as this one, is that I’ll let myself be taken away; I’ll feel all the feelings and get lost in the mini-movie in my mind. I’ll sit in the sadness for a little while and feel a deep sense of loss. On this night, however… I didn’t. Instead, I laughed. I laughed at, ultimately, how small that moment really was. And I smiled knowing that there was a big world full of big experiences yet to be had. But why? Why, this time, did I feel joy instead of melancholy?
I can’t argue maturity or that hitting a certain age means being “adult enough” to come to terms with the past. That’s not right. Oddly enough, I think it has to do with a sense of calm. I say “oddly enough” because my life isn’t really the picture of peace. I’ve got three kids at all different stages of youth—a teenager, one in elementary, and one in diapers; a full-time job; side hustles; a small messy house; and a forgetful mama brain. I’m pretty much stressed most of the time—just ask my migraines. I worry endlessly about my oldest daughter’s anxiety holding her back from adjusting to our recent move, I worry about my youngest daughter’s clumsiness, and I worry that I may not be worrying enough about my son. Ugh, it’s exhausting.
Could it be a classic case of “ain’t nobody got time for that”? Maybe. But I think it goes deeper than that. I have to think that in order to get past such a sensitive experience, something else must be at work. Truth be told, I think some form of inner healing has been going on—but not always intentionally. I’ve only just begun putting the pieces together and connecting the dots. If I try to think back, the transformation has probably been happening for nearly 10 years, but I was only able to realize it in the last six months.
Which is actually an interesting case in perception. Usually, it’s the other way around. Someone looks like they have it all together on the outside, but they’re screaming for help on the inside. In my case, it appears to be the opposite. I look like a huge mess, but the personal work I’ve been doing has made me stronger and calmer on the inside. Once you shift your mindset to realize that there is something bigger at play (which is NOT easy, by any means), you will eventually get to a point where you can zoom out from any particular moment in time to see the big picture. Things will become clearer. You’ll feel more in control and less helpless. It’s pretty amazing what can happen when you just open yourself to the concept of possibility. And what have you got to lose?