I saw that phrase today spray painted in big, black, all capital letters on a white concrete highway overpass that I drove under on my way to Amish country. Graffiti being generally less prevalent, particularly on I-71, than areas in and around downtown where I work and see it more often, this really stood out. And just that phrase, and nothing else. No graffiti anywhere else around or near those words.
I wrestle with this fear a lot myself. Finding the balance between everything in life is an ongoing challenge. As a single person, you have to work, and so there’s that balance. Then you might get married, and there’s a balance in between not losing yourself in the other person, and probably the continued work situation, and finding a space for yourself, and all things balancing so that you feel you are moving forward, not just running in place, and that it feels like it has good quality. Then sometimes you have a child, or multiple children, and then it gets really hard. Something often has to give – your job, your relationship, your ability to be a good parent, your time for yourself. The balance becomes askew. The work becomes insanely necessary in order to pay for the children, the pressure increases. Time for yourself or to seek balance feels selfish.
At the point I’m at in my life, balance is hard, but manageable. I’m able to take on some projects and side work that is just for me, that helps me feel I am moving forward, whether it’s setting new running goals or making personal vows about writing and editing hours per week, or finding time to help out with PTA or whatever. But I’m not sure the running in place thing has lifted. There are moments of extreme quality and clarity that make me feel truly alive and like I’m breathing for the first time in months, like I’m looking at the world with newly focused eyes and smelling and feeling in a way I almost can’t remember ever smelling or seeing. And I think, god yes, I should be having more of THESE moments. These that make me feel ALIVE. My soul soaring as I play tag with my son, or as we hold hands and skip together vigorously in the sunshine, laughing. Snapshots in time of moments with friends, our shared laughter, a hug and kiss hello. Or being there for someone when they NEED you – a shoulder for them to cry on, some soup to bring them when they ail, a confidential ear for their whispered secrets, a strong back to help them soldier on if they are struggling. And moments of passion, electric touch, an amazing kiss that leaves you breathless. Walking through a forest and getting hit with a smell so sweet, you can’t believe you get to be in a place so great for that moment. And even the harder, tougher parts that remind you that you are living. A song that moves you instantly to tears. A banged up leg from playing tag – my R leg is STILL not 100% since the bench accident, and damn I am lucky I didn’t break it if it’s still deeply bruised all these weeks later. But I felt it, and am alive.
I’ve lost so many people. But for one, every one of my grandparents, aunts and uncles are dead, including ones that were only “sort of” uncles and aunts but were really just close friends of the family. This number is at least a dozen, maybe two. Friends who lost their own struggles with illness, mental and physical. Our time is so fucking short, that sometimes spending all day at work feels like a bad way to spend the day when time is so short. It could be tomorrow, for any of us. Hell, it could be tonight. It could be my next run. Or car trip.
I ask myself: Are you making your decisions based on the fact that there may not be a lot of time? Or are you haughtily lazy, expecting that things and people will be there when you get to them.
This type of thinking often prompts me to touch base with friends, to reach out, to push to connect. Which strains the schedule, but makes me feel better inside. And thus, the balance question again. But at night, to lie down full of the fear so starkly stated with those words on the bridge – that is what I find very hard to swallow.
Look around me
I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way it used to be
I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did
And there’s so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away