It's time to slow down.
I've been consciously and obstinately ignoring all external indicators for, oh, I don't know, maybe the last several months. I hear or see these things, then double down, jaw clenched, and power ahead.
Then, a couple things happened on Friday. I heard the news that a former colleague lost her teenage son. That single event triggered a cascade of thoughts and feelings that I usually reserve for the dead of night when I can't sleep.
These thoughts take me to some interesting places in the light of day. News like this tends to make one hit the pause button, quickly chased by 'reset.'
In a way, death's easier if you can see it coming. You can slow down the clock, prioritize, get your affairs in order, get good with God, say goodbye. It still hurts--God, how can it not?--but at least in your head and heart you knew you did everything leading up to it the best you could. There are no regrets.
When death shows up unannounced, however, the recriminations and regret heaped on loss make the unbearable unspeakable.
I've spent the better part of the last three years living my life as if I were dying--enjoying my family and friends, working hard at my job and within my community, spending as much time in nature with my family as possible, and getting my spiritual house in order.
I started losing track of some of this about 7 months ago. I stopped frequently, course-corrected, struggled with some of the usual demons, adapted, adjusted, and moved on.
So, Friday morning's email arrived, and the only sound was the sound of the silk blindfold hitting the floor.
I went about the morning's business, attending to what I needed to attend to with the news and all its implications running various processes in my background. Mostly, scenes from my sons' lives in the last year played out in various ways, complete with my own internal commentary of what I could have done differently, how I should have handled things differently, what better example and modeling I could have provided for them both.
I always comfort myself with "I am doing fine; they are doing fine." And with "They are doing fine," I excuse myself.
And I know in my heart of hearts that THIS. Is not fine.
Which led to a text and a closed door conversation that went from business to the deeply personal. "I need to know," I concluded at the end of an uncharacteristic display of frustration, "what difference I am making. Because it feels like no matter what I do, none of it makes a damned bit of difference."
I think we all think this on some level. I think this is the first time I actually uttered these words to another human being.
There's no great reveal here. I always say in 50 years the measure of who you are isn't going to be what you did for employment; it's going to be the proof of who your kids are and what they are doing that will be the measure of your life. How did you live? What will people remember about you and how handled challenges and adversity? THAT is who you are.
I closed that door. And another one opened.