0 In Notes From Elizabeth

Bye Bye Measuring Stick

Mortality has been on my mind lately. (I know, what a way to begin a post.)

Perhaps it’s because next week I celebrate another year (53!) in this body, on this planet.

Or, perhaps it’s that my four-legged soul mate Moxie is 12. She’s vibrant and healthy and full of, shall I say, moxie. But I am aware of the preciousness of our days together.

Or, maybe it’s that over the past year David and I have updated our wills and estate. It feels good to have a plan in place for the eventual. To not leave details to the one left here to have to manage in a moment of loss.

It crept up on me again today.

I had one of those thoughts while driving. You know the kind of thoughts that swoosh in from (seemingly) nowhere. One second you’re wondering if the crisper needs a good scrub down, and then the next second, BAM! you’re pondering the nature of infinity. These thoughts while driving… they swoosh in, and swoosh out as quickly as they arrive. And if you’re not paying attention, you might miss them.

I was stopped at a red light on an errand to the grocery store, and my thoughts went something like this:

If I were to die today, would I feel like my life was complete? Would I feel like I did what I came here to do? (Lurking in the shadows was, How am I doing? Am I on track?)

And just like that, the reflexive response “no” pierced my heart like a white hot dagger.

Fortunately, I was present enough to the moment to catch that “no” — to hold it hovering in the space before me. Because these thoughts we think, they aren’t always to be believed. They aren’t necessarily true. And this “no” to my life’s journey is not something I want to hold in my space.

Looking at the “no” I asked:

Is that true?

And what came next was the image of an arc, the arc of my life. I saw myself at various ages along the arc. There I was in college, painfully shy and deeply depressed. There I was in my 20s, at sea with neither map nor compass to navigate the wilds of career and relationships.

I also saw that, as humble as my beginnings were, over the years I made steady determined progress to discover that the answers and belonging I sought “out there” have always been here, located within me.

I saw how far I’ve come in being able to accept so many parts of me — from the bright and shiny to the murky and messy.

I saw how embracing my relationship to myself has unlocked treasures within me that are my sacred offering to the world.

I saw how this ever-deepening, ever-expanding communion with me has allowed me to create a relationship, a marriage, that reflects just how much I’ve learned to let love in.

But then the image changed. The arc twisted into a spiral and morphed into the image of vastness, like the vastness of outer space with planets and galaxies in orbit. Linearity dissolved into multi-dimensional space and movement.

And then came an invitation: it’s time to stop measuring.

As if to say: Yes, I can acknowledge that I have healed so much, I have reclaimed so much of myself. But it’s the idea of the measuring stick altogether, and these questions “How am I doing? Am I on track?” that insinuate failure is at all possible.

I saw an evolution of my relationship with myself. A space beyond the measuring stick, beyond success/failure, beyond on track/not on track.

A flash of illumination lasted just moments, but it released the dagger and opened my heart to a new possibility. Where “How am I doing?” dissolves into “I am.”

The light turned green. I gave the car some gas. But before the thoughts evaporated into thin air, I took a deep breath and whispered “yes.”

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