It goes on
Robert Frost once wrote: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life—It goes on.” These words hit particularly close to home for me lately. As I have mentioned in previous columns, this has been an incredibly eventful summer. My personal businesses have picked up a great deal, we are doing a total house remodel, and my eldest son is getting ready to move away from home for college. There have been many highs and numerous lows. Days of boundless hope and sleepless nights of dread. But, you know what? Each one of those dark nights turn into sun-filled mornings and yes, as Frost says, life goes on.
Our lives are all like that. That is part of the interconnectedness of being human—we take one step forward and the universe pushes us two steps back sometimes. But, we go on. Our lives change and we wonder how we are going to get through the bad times. We worry when the good times will end. But, somehow, we get through it. Life isn’t meant to be understood, it’s meant to be lived. Living our lives to the fullest extent of our ability is all we can really do each day. I sit here wondering what the future will hold for my son, about to embark on a new path in life. An exciting future awaits him.
But, I keep dwelling on what awaits me: an empty bedroom, an empty chair at my dinner table, less laundry in my washer, an empty space in my life. But, I am so proud of who he is and what he can do for this world. He’s been my pride for so many years and it has made me selfish. It is time to share him with the world. But, letting go is difficult isn’t it? Whether it be letting go of a child off to college, letting go of a long-standing grudge or a bad habit. But, change is inevitable and if we don’t bend, we break.
Sometimes it’s difficult to give words of wisdom to my son, when thinking about him not being around all the time makes me want to crawl in bed and cover my head for a few days. Yes, he will come home for breaks, but there is something fundamentally changing in my life. It’s a new stage in both our lives and I’m trying to find a way to cope with that. Of course, as always, I find solace in the written word. I find help in the words of poets far greater than I could ever hope to be. I recently reread a poem by Rudyard Kipling called “If”.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
While life has gotten in the way of my creativity in recent months, it seems the more emotional I get, the more the words start to flow. As I was helping my son pack this morning, a few lines of a poem came to me and I sat down and wrote for the first time in a while.
I filled the trunk with his things—towels, washcloths, sheets, an iron
And my mind flashbacked to picking up Lego and putting them back in the huge toy box.
I used to curse those little pieces of plastic—
They hurt my bare feet and got caught in my vacuum cleaner.
The gifted redhead who was never really a child in the conventional sense…..
Tall, advanced, precocious, full of wonder and attitude.
A true stereotypical redhead to the core.
I used to think to myself, “I can’t wait till he’s through with these things.”
“I can’t wait till my living room isn’t filled with multi-colored landmines.”
Where did the time go?
He would spend hours building —-
Trucks, spaceships, pterodactyls, castles—
Brick by brick with steadfast hands.
Now, the Lego box sits a few feet away from the college bound trunk—
The little boy, now not quite a man sits between the two.
Caught between youth and adulthood, ready to fly on wet wings.
Ready to build a future with the solid bricks of his past.
So, no matter what happens, no matter what the universe has in store for both of us, life will go on. We will both change and get used to this new environment, this new ‘normal”.