Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Tablet of Marble

The word “crisis” may be a bit of a misnomer as I look back on several years of transitions in my Mid (hopefully) Life, each chapter being critical to the next. This change to a new life has been a long, slow process, racing along day to day at breakneck speed, but taking years to fully mature.

The contradictions are evident when I pause to read pages of entries in my black composition journals. I can ponder the immensity of differences a year has developed in so many ways: from location to occupation to spare timed activities. The scribbles are fraught with angst, paranoia and self-doubt as much as ebullience, braggadocio and lofty predictions (just multiply the substance of this blog by a thousand to get an idea).

For a few days now, my mind has been focused on measurements, calculations and emotional assessments. Using the change of season here and there as metaphor has not satisfied the process, leaving me floating somewhere in transition.

Curiously last night, a pile of boxes still stacked in the corner seemed suddenly conquerable and I could finally attack and sort them, clearing out the imposing disorder to improve my bedroom’s Fung Shui. “Poems” from my childhood, song scraps, and sweet cards from my own children could be scanned and re-stored; other mementos I could ceremoniously toss to the dumpster with only parting regret. Only after the purge, talking to a friend, did I recognize that this week marks exactly a year that I have been living here.

The true beginning of my crisis, I believe—besides an abiding pain and discomfort over work, financial and marital stress—surfaced upon the move of parents to an assisted care facility. Dividing the treasures and the personals, emptying out and giving over the unique family home to a new family was traumatic. The dinning room table, a huge slab of marble as much a symbol of a Camelot as any could be, was cut into five pieces, but mine as a coffee table in my own home holds nowhere near the power of anchoring my soul to place.

Once adrift, at long last, it had become time to grow up and take charge of my life.

My business had to be ended. No matter how well-intended and hard I focused on details, personal distraction and vanishing dollars made for chaotic sites and disastrous results. Although the finished product always looked impressive, not enough clients were fully satisfied and way too many subs and vendors were not getting paid. I could not continue to hurt all those who depended upon me.

My son regularly complains good-naturedly about shifting belongings from house to house every weekend, acknowledging the clear impact my decisions have had on his life. If I apologize, he quickly reminds me he no longer lives behind a closed door, shutting out the angry fights, and can sleep at night, no longer afraid and bewildered that parents who loved each other at times could hurt each other so horribly as well.

As much as I loved writing and music, in comparison to my family, while the focus of raising and supporting them was so intense, I easily and cheerfully abandoned the creativity, hardly even noticing the loss. There was so much gain that culminated in our beautiful little house on Hayward Street, the hard work to support it seemed just the natural price to pay. That the stress was crushing me and actually shredding the very fabric I loved so much seemed just the product of my own faulty frailties which could be easily adjusted and surmounted…if I just worked a little harder.

Once I realized how thick was the brick wall and impenetrable by the same choices and efforts, no matter how determined, when my energy was finally exhausted and none of the usual resources could be rallied, as I finally and fearfully understood in my soul what it means to “let go, let God”, the resistance evaporated. The wall has crumbled of its own accord.

In my I group last night, the question was posed: “if you did not have to work for a living, how would you spend your time?”. Instantly, I could answer “write, play music, ski and play soccer.” And I am doing all of that with my son close beside me.

Sure, I will need some help from my father this month again to pay the rent. He will ask again if any of this is actually making me any money, and for the first time I can honestly answer, “YES!”. For me, the important thing is that I am bringing all of these pieces of my own particular marble table back together again, stronger than ever.
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Anonymous said...

Kip you touch me truly with your look inward. I too went through the same experiences when my marriage ended. Excellent from the heart writing my friend.


Laurie said...

When you make small steps everyday you sometimes miss the great distance being traveled in a year. Kip you have journeyed a long way and are better from the experience. There has been pain in your journey but much like the butterfly who struggles while emerging from his chrysalis, it is through the struggle that he gains the strength to fly. You are a stronger person. You are stronger in who you are and what you want out of life.

I have done a five year review of my life recently. I am amazed at the distance I have traveled. It makes me overwhelmed with gratitude that God gave me the strength to continue in the midst of the bleeding blisters on my feet. But in persevering, I am a better person living a more joyful life. I think you are too.