When you make the choice to fully immerse yourself in something, there is a shift within your cells that is terrifying and exciting in equal measure.
In the moment that you decide to go all in, to play full on, there is terror in the knowing that you will lose something of yourself in the process, and that you will gain something too. The fear is in the stepping off. In that free-falling moment when you don’t know quite where you will land, or even how. Will you spring as light as a gymnast on the lush grass, or will it be more like the first time you bring your Christmas-drone in for landing, shaky and off centre, with the no-rain-for three-weeks crispy weeds spraying out in all directions?
A fledgling project, an expensive purchase, a shiny new relationship. They all create the nervicitement of: new me/old me. And right there in the moment between the two, is where the juice is. And that juice is the sweetest and most luscious of all.
In a dusty box at the back of my mind there is a creature called the Push Me Pull You. I think it could be from Sesame Street, or maybe it lives with Dr.Doolittle, but in my memory it has one body and two heads, facing in opposite directions. So if one head wants to move forward, the other must go backwards.
Jumping in feels a lot like what the poor Push Me Pull You must always have a sense of. In order to move at all, the backward facing head has to trust, and step into the vulnerability of not quite knowing where it’s going, or what the ground is like. It can only feel the irregularity once it carefully places its tiny cloven hoof on the uneven ground. And the forward head has to be sure to lead in the best direction, dealing with whatever comes up in each moment, and making decisions the backward head can’t help with.
Today I sat on the stairs and watched my little girl grow up before my eyes. She went into her bedroom in a flurry of iridescent flamingo pink, and emerged with only a blush of subtle rose on her shoes-a nod to the the days of childhood that she inhabited only moments before.
I sat on the stairs and watched her gather her bag, count her money and smooth her hair. I saw the confident step of the woman she will become, going out into the world without me by her side, her only compass the words we have shared over the years, and the direction she chooses to steer on her own.
I sat on the stairs leaning on my sandy summer-knees, pulled by the heaviness in my heart, as I thought of the way the world looks at her, both real and imagined, and the judgements she will face. I remembered all the times she has cried about how people stare at her, or ask her why she is yellow. And I guessed at all the times she didn’t cry, but pushed the dark feelings deep down into her gall bladder, and smiled the sunshine of defiance.
I sat on the stairs, and the stairs stretched out in front of me like a dark Dr.Suess movie, a conveyor belt of the endless nights and days where I will watch her take that ebullient step over the threshold, without looking back, out, out into her life.
As it should be.
I sat on the stairs and I knew in that moment that my little girl needs very little from me these days. She knows her own heart and her mind is stronger than a nine year old mind ever should be, and that is how this world turns. My little girl is no longer little.
I sat on the stairs and thought of a mother I know very little of, who made a choice this very day to jump off into the abyss of blissful anaesthesia. A mother who knew that no matter how long she sat on the stairs, her little girl was not coming back. I thought of Debbie and her broken heart and I had a tinkling of what that rancid loss might be like.
Can you die of a broken heart?
Can you choose when you step out of this world?
I think you can.
I hope for that mother, as she let the griefs lay all over her like a heavy and cool blanket, it was more exciting than terrifying. I hope she felt the relief.
I hope she got to taste the juice. And I hope it was sweet.
Vale Debbie. Vale Carrie. Travel well ladies.