Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Journey of 1000 Miles Begins with a Single Step

"Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world ...
It ended when you said goodbye."
Skeeter Davis - End of the World

Back before I even knew what love was all about and didn't have a clue about love gone wrong, I used to drown my rather dramatic and angst-ridden pre-teen romantic failures with songs like "... it's the end of the world." I'd turn up the transistor radio and wail along with Skeeter Davis, Johnny Mathis and Leslie Gore. What I knew then about the end of the world was anyone's guess. Still the words hit a chord with me, touched my heart on a soul level. Could I have been, even then, preparing myself for the myriad of goodbyes I would say in my lifetime?

A few days ago I mentioned to one of my friends/mentors/ go-to persons that I don't know how to get started again, that my mind says move but my body/spirit are kind of paralyzed. She replied:

"I'd start with tomorrow - and three simple things to get done tomorrow. I know in your grief all you want to do is do nothing, but Mary, you have to do something. My suggestion would be to take a walk. Take a walk with your camera. Take pictures on your walk. And then come home and post the picture to your blog - whether you have words to go with it or not.
The walk will release endorphins (nature's anti-depressant), and help move the "stuck" energy of grief. Looking for photo ops will engage the right (creative, tending and healing) side of the brain releasing the hormone oxytocin. And posting the pic to your blog will have you doing something productive.
There....three simple (and do-able) things to accomplish tomorrow! :-)

Well tomorrow turned into three days. Actually I took the walk yesterday, but didn't get to my blog til today. For what it's worth I did think about it, I just didn't do anything. Thinking, however, is not as productive as doing. What I learned before my walk, and the real impetus for taking the first step, was that my son told me the birds that have dotted our white car parked in the driveway with some kind of nasty berry poop is a really a flock of robins. ROBINS! I love robins.I have heard them, not knowing it was a robin chorus I was listening to. But I haven't seen the first one hanging out in the yard.

So I put on my walking shoes, picked up my camera and headed down the street. Sure enough as I got closer to a stand of oak trees I could hear them. Maybe in bird language it was a beautiful song they were singing. To my ear it sounded more like a call to arms and I feared being pooped on by the cloud of red-breasted birds fluttering overhead. I stopped to listen and wondered if this was what Skeeter Davis meant when she asked, "why do the birds go on singing?"

Then to force my mind to something more positive, I tried to take a photo. Alas, the best picture I could take was this one where you can see that a bird is going in for a rather clumsy landing, but you can't tell what kind of bird it is. You also can't tell that these trees were virtually alive with robins.



Finally I accepted the limits of my photographic abilities and continued to walk. Not fast or purposeful, just a normal pace walk - which really wasn't normal at all since I can't remember the last time I've donned some sneakers and walked around the block.

A few streets from home I caught sight of a young boy and what must have been his grandfather tossing a football back around in the yard. I'd guess the kid was 5 or 6. He was still wearing his school clothes. Even though I'm feeling rather socially phobic I smiled as I went by, feeling the positive energy of the ball throwers. The boy looked at me as I walked by. He dropped the ball yet seemed not to mind. He gave me a big ole smile and said, Happy Valentine's Day. Oh me! Oh my! Be still my sad and bruised heart. Happy Valentine's Day indeed.

At that moment, the Skeeter Davis song magically disappeared from my mind. Even though saying goodbye is a hard one, and the hole that is left in my life and heart since Dad died feels like it may never heal over, in the words of Oprah, what I know for sure is this .... it's not the end of the world. Birds will keep singing, the sun will keep coming up and young boys will continue to make me melt on the spot with their sweetness.

As if to add an exclamation point to the thought, as I got closer to home I saw this ...

Just a pile of branches waiting for yard trash pickup? Or a heart? It looks a little scarred, perhaps where the saw cut through it. Yet there it sits, not hiding in the gutter but looking up into the light ... almost as if it was placed there for me to see. Good thing I had my camera with me!

And there you have it. 23 days after my father died and 17 days after I last wrote anything I've completed a short piece of prose. Maybe things won't be the same as they were. Maybe the world will have a grayish tone to it for awhile. Yet maybe, just maybe, I will survive.

Wishing for you friends to lean on,
Merry ME

9 comments:

Molly said...

Wahoo! Words & pictures...Ali Edwards says we have to tell our stories in words and pictures, the good and bad, the normal and extraordinary...and that's just what you did. And I love the heart. I bet you'll soon be seeing them everywhere...keep looking.

Pamela Jones said...

Welcome back, Mary! Love your wooden valentine. And your landing bird. And your walking words.

MamaJoe said...

Taking in the world around you and allowing it to speak to you is such a big step. What a smart friend you have! Your wooden valentine was awesome and such a gift to just you! Keep walking and talking and reaching out. It all begins with a single step. And you've taken it.

Fire Byrd said...

You know how people drive you nuts saying things like ... time heals. Well I think it should only be said by people who really know that, cause they've been there. With that in mind, time does heal. Life goes on till we die. We just have the choice of how we walk through it till we reach that point. And at first it feels like the pain is there 24/7, but slowly, ever so slowly there is an hour off, then a couple then a day, then a week and so on.
Till oneday you get to know that you are coping, you still miss the person you've lost but you are coping.
Wishing you good, hours and days ahead when the pain turns into happy memories.
xx

terri said...

one step at a time...
you're doin' good.

Anonymous said...

You heard the robins. You listened to a friend. And you took that first single step. That you recognized the heart in a pile of branches says a lot - your heart isn't completely walled off as it seems to you. You looked closely at that cut branch and saw a sign of love. I'd say that walk was a good one. lg

PS From all the catch up and loving correspondence that you've been doing, I would also say you are accomplishing more than you realize.

Sorrow said...

Oh merry~
so good just to feel your words.
so good to see your face turned towards the sun...

Melissa said...

I think that's all surviving really is.... getting up and taking each moment as it comes, holding it close and letting go when necessary.

Wishing you lots of love...

AkasaWolfSong said...

(((Mary)))

You are one phenominal woman...
You are light seeking light...
You are loved by many...
You are a blessing!

Thank You for your shared words...
like Sorrow shares...it just feels so good!