What I Mean By Staying Open


Flørli
is 4,444 steps up to the top of the cliff.

4,444 steep steps. And about halfway up, someone has carved into the wood, “Now, you’re tired.”

But you have to push on. Because the alternative is going down the 4,444 steep steps, which is a frightful thought.

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So you keep moving.

There are two distinct moments in my life that I recall – where I thought realised: “Now: I am happy.”

It wasn’t on this day.

In fact, neither day was a day where I felt that I had accomplished anything. That isn’t to say there weren’t days where I was overjoyed. Proud. Happy, in my experiences.

But on these two occasions: one, quietly driving home from work, planning dinner for my two small children and my (then) husband; the other, sitting on the couch in my own apartment, my kids grown and living elsewhere, my life comfortably poised for something new – I felt a slow wave of emotion, like settling into a pool of warm water. A conscious pause, halfway up a staircase, looking around and enjoying the view, the breeze, the feeling of muscles slightly torn and strengthening. Realising that, time was not standing still. Things were good now, but they would change, and even that was a good thing. The way things are supposed to be.

This feeling is my definition of gratitude. It involves an element of submission, an acceptance and appreciation. It is lying in Savasana, palms up and open.

And it’s letting go.

It’s about letting go of contexts mostly. Definitions of myself, and definitions of my perceptions.

I have a fear of growing old. Not growing older, mind you. I am mostly fine with that. It’s the rigidness that some people take on with age. They close down on their experiences. Solve the puzzles for themselves (and, they think, everyone else). Form opinions. They stop reading the article after the author gets to a point with which they disagree. They are afraid to push themselves, to tear all those muscle fibers just a bit.

“Now, you’re tired.” It’s a taunt. Keep going. Because it is a really bad idea to stay there, resting until darkness takes you. And an even worse idea to head back down the way you came. That soreness in your legs, is just them getting stronger.

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