Pages in a Murky Field

Photo by Benjamin Lehman on

I want to improve. I want to be this badass who faces the world with my hands on my hips, my head thrown back and let’s out a laugh at the challenges in front of me. I want to take on the world with an energy of an overactive toddler. I want to get things accomplished.I want to be happy to fuel my energy. I want to make decisions and stick with them. I want to plan and pull the trigger on my plans. I want to all of this…be all of this. I really do. And yet, I can’t. And I’m not.

I grew up with a park across the street from me. And there was about an acre of land with grass and three baseball fields. The land was next to swing sets, monkey bars and those always dangerous teeter totters. I would spend my days running back and forth through the open fields to play on all the park’s equipment, then run back through them again to go home. I didn’t stick to the sidewalks leading to the park. No, running and open land was who I was.

One afternoon, after a night of heavy storms, I did take to the sidewalks to go to play on the swings. God, I always liked the feeling freedom of swinging. But when the time came to return home, I chose the muddy, murky, quick sand dirt of the flooded field. I didn’t get very far. I reached a point where I couldn’t move. The mud cemented me in place and paralyzed me in my spot behind second base of the largest of the ball fields. My brother and his friend, my next door neighbor, were across the street and I screamed for help. They came and stood on the sidewalk figuring out how to get me to move. Eventually, my neighbor tore the pages out of his comic book and used them as steps toward me. Then, he picked me up and using those pages as footfalls, he carried me to the sidewalk.

I thought about this story this morning because I feel as stuck as I did planted in the mud all those years ago. I am looking for the comic books pages ahead of me so I can move and get to some sort of safety. It seems every time I step on the one in front of me, I hesitate, or pull back in uncertainty. And, I only see one, not an entire path laid before me. The man who carried me through life is now dead, and I’ve been dropped in a flooded field of murky confusion. Peter was the logic, the patience, and the calm to my impulsiveness, my restlessness and my angst. I have to retrain my active mind, piece together my jumbled thoughts, slow down my jump ahead conclusions, and focus. It’s all up to me and I don’t know where to go with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have made some decisions. Getting my dog Barkley was huge and a decision which proved to be exactly what I needed. I have slowed my roll in deciding where to live or when to move. I am not in hurry. The pulling back on two homes because of uncertainty, the not feeling like it was right for the right now, showed me I don’t have to rush to any conclusions. And the decision I have made to remove Peter’s stuff from this house – stuff with no history or value, but stuff his engineering brain thought of ways to create with (and so many times he did) – was a great resolve, despite the pain of letting go. Yet, I still feel lost without Peter. I still question my capabilities.

I suppose I should look back at the pages I have already walked on instead at the emptiness in front of me and grow some confidence, some pride and be encouraged. I have to have faith in the Universe, in God, and most especially in me, that future pages will come before me soon enough. I need to realize the path ahead of me may not be the one Peter would walk on, perhaps not even agree with, but it will my path and mine alone. Peter is never coming back and I am still here.

So, I as hard as it is this morning, I have to convince myself, find the energy within me, to take more steps in the murky field of grief, of longing, of being on my own after thirty one years of being with Peter. I have to wait for the pages to come, and they will come in an eventuality I need patience for. Until then, perhaps I should take the time to stand still and take in the peace of what I have now, the pages I have stepped on thus far, and stop trying to hurry through the mud of emotions, the consequences, the despair and the grief.

I so want to have the ability to conquer it all, conquer it now, walk on top of the murk because I am so tired of standing still in it. I do hear distant whispers warning me not to move just yet and instead, to think of the direction I want to go. Those whispers just may be from the badass emerging inside of me, the one who will plant my life’s comic book pages in front of me and allow me to move, one stepping stone at a time.