By Kate Kerry Spencer
You know it’s out there, especially on your best days. You can feel the pulse of your life and tap into that energy easily, like holding your mother’s steady hand when you were 4 years old. That feeling of connection is as smooth as soft-serve ice cream on a summer day. That feeling is real-life sweet.
You know it’s out there, even on your worst days. Even when Chicken Little is completely nailing the news that the sky of your life is falling. You know, somewhere deep in your tired bones, that the sky will one day reassemble itself and so will you. At least you know that most of the time.
Life gets noisy, busy and messy some days. And yes, for most of us, it can stay that way for many, many decades. A lot of this is fun, interesting and even thrilling. We’re growing ourselves up, growing our children up, growing our lives up. It’s easy, and often glorious, to get caught up in the work, play, joy, and momentum of all the people, projects and passions we pursue and are pursued by.
And then one day, sometimes right in the middle of all this sunny life momentum, we find ourselves in the deep end of the ocean. Like Dory, the plucky Blue Tang fish who helped find Nemo in the deep, dangerous sea, we don’t have a manual to refer to for guidance. All we can do is to just keep swimming.
How we navigate those dark, dangerous places in life is important, and learning how to do that is tricky, scary and sometimes heartbreaking. The hard truth is that life will absolutely break your heart sometimes. The gift is that in that breaking, the heart can reassemble its pieces over time and become even a stronger life force, often strongest at the once-broken places. That’s when you’ll hear you True Blue Life calling you back, calling you forward, calling you home.
To hear its call more clearly and more often, consider these three steps:
Turn Down the Noise
The world really is getting louder. Relentlessly, stridently, connivingly, randomly. Yes, there are a lot of good things happening in the world too, and good people showing up every day to life and its challenges. We must never forget to see and be the good, in the most inclusive, brave ways we can be. And to do that, we also need to regularly unplug from the noise, go outside and listen to birds calling in the morning and watch the stars calling in the night.
Listen to the Quiet
Quiet is not the absence of noise, it’s the absence of turmoil. In each of us there is a quiet place that knows how to sit with loss, pain and grief and find a way through. In each of us there is a quiet place that knows how to sit with gratitude, love and peace, not because the world or our lives are perfect, but because the world and our lives are ours. Listen and strengthen your ability to hear what quiet teaches.
Pay Attention to What You Persistently Love
It may be something as simple as the way the light streams through the kitchen window in summer. Or the dimples on the tiny knuckles of your newborn baby. Or the friend who always know exactly what to say, including saying nothing, when joy. or sorrow, is too deep for words. Whoever or whatever you persistently love in life tells you as much about yourself as it does your beloved. Listen to both and love with your full, persistent heart.
Kate Kerry Spencer is a Pacific Northwest writer, editor, and publisher. Learn more about her upcoming memoir, Smoke: A Story of Love, Lies and Cigarettes.
Smoke is the story of fatal consolations--tobacco, denial and deceit--and the second chances that can come to us in the most unlikely places. For this mother and daughter it was a rehab center where the two women wrestled with cigarettes, scrambled brains and each other--and in the process, found the long way back to love.