The past three years have not been middle of the road kind of years. They have been years of extremes – on the floor sorrow, overflowing gratitude, nothing can stop me now energy, and total depletion.
I want to get in the middle lane and slow down.
This buffalo I photographed while in Montana a few weeks ago did not seem to be in a hurry or concerned about the cars around him.
I would like to not be in a hurry or concerned about what is coming at me.
My sister explained to me tonight that Buddha describes the middle way as a path of moderation. It is considered the path of wisdom. (Side note: what seems foolish – a buffalo walking in the middle of the road, might actually be wise, I mean we all stopped our cars and he had a pretty easy stroll to his destination). I want some moderation. Sometimes in my head it feels like the current presidential election news coverage. I would like to shut that sh*t off!
I read books in the hospice as my husband was sleeping. I speed read them in the brief moments I had because I was looking for something: I wanted to know what year 2, or year 5, or maybe even year 11 would feel like. Most books described only the first year – I wanted to know when and how the extremes would end. After his diagnosis there had been no being in the middle and I knew that going home without him would be so far from the middle – it would be like falling off a cliff.
I wonder if year three might be a year of finding some moderation. Some balance. Some time away from the edges. If you are grieving you know about the waves, and how you learn to hold on as you get battered about. And you know the relief when somehow, someway, (human resiliency) you rise and shine – again. As I head toward the third anniversary of his death I am aware of how quickly I can drift toward the side of the road.
But the difference is this – I have experience. Time, if nothing else, offers us knowledge about how we grieve, what helps and what doesn’t. I am using that knowledge to move toward the middle.
What helps me is talking it out, feeling connected, having things to look forward to, moving toward people that are kind and inviting, and saying no thanks to things that don’t feel good (if I can). My own protective instinct kicks in these days and alerts me when I start to stray. I try to guide myself away from extremes by leaning in toward what works for me.
So if you are new to grief, if you are looking for a clue about what time actually does for you – I can say this: time gives you experience with your grief, time softens the edges, and time teaches you that moving forward, even if it is in the line of traffic in the middle of the road, is what you need to do. And that’s the funny thing, like the buffalo I can see that being in the middle of the road can also mean risk. I am not hiding out in the slow right lane or flying by you on the left – I am here, in front of you, can you see me?