When you walk through a dark room...do you take small steps? do you stick your hand out in front of you? do you push ahead until you bump into something? And once you make your way across, do you flick the switch and flood the room with light? Do you continue to navigate in the dark? Or do you just stay in bed waiting for the sunrise.
There is nothing worth doing in life that doesn't require a confrontation with darkness, a reckoning with fear. And while it seems some days that fear gets the better part of me, truth be told, when I look back I realize that it hasn't. I have gone forward despite uncertainty. In fact, darkness itself has sometimes pushed me toward the light.
I suppose like many mothers and daughters, it took me a awhile to realize that the woman who birthed me was human, fallible, and overwhelmed with nothing but the best intentions for me. I often wondered if she and I met as strangers would we be friends. But life being the wonderful journey that it is, we --so different- are two individuals who needed to meet. Because we are a lesson for one another. And I don't think either of us would have gotten the point had we not been yoked to one another. We are very different people.
Ever since I was young, I have realized that my way of seeing the world was not the same as hers. And my mother realized the same. We were at odds for a long time because her solution was to compel me to defer to her perspective and my solution was to forge ahead anyway. The struggle took a lot out of both of us. Like any child, I wanted my mother's encouragement. I wanted her approval. I was hurt and angry that I couldn't seem to please her with my accomplishments or to inspire her with my dreams. What I said about the world and my place in it seemed to strike the wrong chord, even anger her. And to hold back heartache, I became stoic and very stubborn.
One day. One blessed day, we realized that we were fighting the wrong fight. It finally occurred to me that my mother wanted to protect me, even if she had to hold me back to do it. And my mother realized that my life, while different, was still very much connected to hers. That no matter how far or how foreign, my compass was always calibrated to home. It took some adjustment, but we have learned to learn from one another. We have learned not just to love, but to like one another. When I encounter an obstacle, she concedes at the outset that she has no point of reference from which to direct me. She offers her support and sometimes her analysis. And I continue to learn that I can discern my own way. To liberate and affirm my ability to make choices for myself...
I am also left to figure my own way through the dark. I suppose eventually we all are faced with that realization. That no parent, no mentor, no guide, no other can make what is our own way in the world. That we must do for ourselves. If we are fortunate, we will find souls who are willing to walk with us. But inevitably we must release the fantasy that someone will walk before us or leave a trail of breadcrumbs for us to find, for every life's journey is unique unto itself. If we do not come to terms with this truth, we fall short of what is possible. We may remain safe, but we will not become wise. We won't be hurt, but we will miss the journey.
It took me a long time to let go of my want for a mentor. I finally realized it was really a desire for approval and the type of childlike care that none of us who accepts the lucidity of maturity can ever wrap themselves in again. To have someone else make me feel better, what a respite that would be. I took a deep sigh. And grew up. I have to do that myself. Otherwise I will always be dependent on other people. And not know my own way. Beyond the darkness and fear is my best self and my highest aspiration. May that faith be enough to fortify me as I once again leave what is known for what is next.