When contemplating a life change, what’s better: scared or sensible? How does one choose? And why?
After wrestling for several grueling weeks with making a radical, lock-stock-and-barrel move, I’ve decided to stay put and work on making a meaningful internal geographic instead. In many ways this kind of psychological change is a much tougher adventure, in unseen, undramatic ways.
The preparation for the move was an exhausting, yet exhilarating, decision-intense process. It required debriding the house, editing years of life, rummaging through cupboards, dragging hefty bags of clothes to thrift stores and schlepping boxes of books to the library.
Now, sitting quietly at dusk in a strangely barren house, the decision NOT to move and start fresh elsewhere seemed to have suddenly drained the color out of life, leaving me stuck on a melancholy ice floe, wondering what my real motivation was to begin with.
I blamed myself, mourning my lack of courage. Was I a wimp? Simply too chicken to make the change?
Viewing the video of a busload of British travelers navigate a Himalayan road chittering with uncontrolled nervous laughter began to put things into perspective: Not for me a rock-strewn sliver 2,000 feet over the Brahmaputra.
Reading Kay Ryan’s poem, No Names* helped to further talk me down off my stone grey ledge.
There are high places
that don’t invite us,
sharp scapes, glacier-
scraped faces, whole
ranges whose given names
slip off. Any such relation
as we try to make
refuses to take. Some
high lakes are not for us,
some slick escarpments.
I’m giddy with thinking
where thinking can’t stick.
Morning can be a powerful tonic for mourning. Outside the window, a lemon yellow linnet is trying to drink from the hummingbird feeder, pecking furiously at the scarlet plastic floret for a sip of sugar. Everywhere I look…a living rainbow. Emerald hedge, periwinkle sky, magenta impatiens, cadmium orange gazanias.
It hits me suddenly. We’re not stuck in Kansas, Toto. The colors never left. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of my choosing to see them, or not. The rooms and closets may be emptier, yes. But those things I’ve chosen to keep are blessed with a new significance.
Perhaps sitting quietly in an empty house is exactly what’s needed to begin that inward journey to rediscover the true colors of life. Perhaps that’s the journey that calls for true courage.