Last July I took on the challenge to live the past year as if it were my last, as inspired by Stephen Levine’s book A Year to Live. If you have not read it, please do (available at Yoga Soup!). This small book puts life quickly into perspective. I have explored and done things that I simply may not have if I were not living the past year as if it were my last. I am living life from a deeply felt sense, and doing more of the things that bring me and others joy. My deepest realization is that loving relationships are important, and it takes time to nourish and grow healthy ones. The questions often asked in the last hours of life are “did I love well?”, “did I live well?” My contemplation of these questions has forced me to get current with where I am presently in my life.
I am about to turn fifty-six, which kind of blows my mind. I am divorced now fifteen years, and currently not in a partnered relationship. Yes, menopause is real, and, in my opinion, takes too long to complete its process. My sons are healthy, prospering grown men, both in long-term relationships, maybe soon starting families of their own. I have earned three masters degrees, taught yoga for 23 years, and more recently have established a successful practice as a psychotherapist. I have loved well, and according to the standards of our culture, I have also lived well. Stephen Levine writes that “a life … lived in the present, that rides the power of the breath and knows the power of thought to create the world, experiencing itself in its richness and emptiness, allows us to enter life so fully, that even if we died it would not spoil our day.” And then I realized .…”shit!” there remain things I want to see and do, and I am not getting any younger. And…. no one is going to say, ”please take some time off work Suzanne, to explore the unknown.”
So, I decided I better take the wheel.
I am going on a road trip, hoping to travel seven states in seven weeks. Something is absolutely calling me to this (as one friend called it) “driving quest.” I love the open road, stumbling into mysterious places, and getting lost in nature. I will pull my home behind my car, with my little red poodle as co-pilot. Along the way I will spend some time alone for a few days, and then pick up a friend here and there to share a few days.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my life, and I love my work. How I got here still a mystery, it feels like good fortune.
There is something deeper calling at the moment.
Life is very familiar and comfortable here in Santa Barbara, my daily routine feels somewhat certain and safe. I am ready to move into some unfamiliar territory and get uncomfortable with different sorts of challenges. Truth be known as exciting as this is, there is also a part of me that is feeling the fear. The kind of fear that wakes me in the middle of the night with the thoughts of ‘can I really do this?’ And all of the reasons of why I should not.
The other book which has recently embraced me is Soulcraft, by Bill Plotkin. This is a juicy read into depth psychology exploring nature and psyche. He talks about creating cocoons to emerge into our second adulthood, and various ways to honor and encourage this metamorphosis. So, maybe I’ll come back all grown up, hahaha. Actually, from what I am understanding and sensing, we get a second chance to be a child from a wisdom only developed through the process of aging. I am going to play and push the edges by diving into a deep exhilarating trust of the unknown.
I leave July 1st for the road trip, and then will spend the second half of August into September immersed in yoga.
See you on the mat down the road.