For some reason in the last few weeks, when my husband calls my cell phone it comes up as Dad. This is, in part, due to the fact that my son has crossed the threshold into adolescence and he now has a phone of his own.
In the process of entering his contacts, Dad now appears when my husband calls me. The only dad that has ever called my phone is my dad and he is no longer with us. When I see Dad appear on my phone my heart sinks and my mind gets fuzzy because I think it’s my dad calling me.
For the first time in many years, I’ve entered the holiday season without the overwhelm and anxiety that usually rush in on November 1st. For years I’ve made small changes to my holiday to-do list which is now only the few things that are imperative to me: eating at the Walnut Room, organizing my flower boxes with evergreens, enjoying our Christmas tree, purchasing the few gifts my children will receive and hosting my daughter’s December birthday party.
I let go of mailing Christmas cards, exchanging gifts with family and friends, and attending holiday parties. It’s opened up new possibilities and time to do other things that I look forward to like Christmas caroling, seeing The Nutcracker, visiting with close friends, attending church downtown for the winter solstice and teaching a few classes that are inspiring to me. I look forward to this month.
Looking back, I see that what was hard for me over the years during the holiday season was the inner polarity between what I actually long for during this time of year, and the surface activity and expectation of doing more than ever. The honest truth was that I couldn’t do it all without struggling inside.
In 2015, I committed to the intention of space. Space to see how my life unfolded without adding to it and seeing all the ways that I fill space because I have creative and ingenious energy. With this commitment of space, what at first was pleasurable and luxurious shed light on an underlying, human anxiety. An anxiety of crossing a threshold into my forties and all the ways that I try and make myself comfortable to avoid the uncertainty and fear of getting older.
These layers of anxiety revealed the deeper truth that thresholds in life have potential to provoke questions about the meaning of life.
I am acutely aware in these quiet and dark days of winter that time is moving forward. There is an ache of letting go of some of the youth of my thirties and growing up into my forties. This is the first time in my short life that I’ve wanted to go back a few years to have just one more moment.
One more moment with my dad. One more moment with my young son and baby daughter. One more dinner at my grandma’s house.
This process of getting older touches the vulnerability of being human. The anxiety is just merely a way it manifests and tries to protect me from feeling the ultimate tenderness of change and uncertainty in life.
The change of my children growing up. The uncertainty of our environment and the world we live in. The uncertainty of what my life will look like when I enter into my fifties. All the unknown changes of the future.
Irish Poet John O’Donohue says, “Because we are so engaged with the world, we usually forget how fragile life can be and how vulnerable we always are.”
My dad often called me from a park bench. I know that’s where he felt most vulnerable and tender. I imagine that is why he was calling from there. Perhaps Dad appearing on my phone is an invitation to pause at the tenderness of life.