Brighter Paths

Being in a place where you are questioning your own self-worth and blaming others for why things don’t go your way is a horrible place to be. It didn’t take long before I realized I had some self reflection and inventory to do. Work. Work on myself. This is tough. Who wants to go there? Well, I decided I needed to. If there’s one thing I want my kids to learn, it’s that they are of great value (and to never question that) and that they should ask always accept responsibility for their actions, their reactions, and their emotions. If I’m in a place where I’m not doing those things, how can I be a role model for them? The pressure was on…I needed to find a brighter path.

On an amazing vacation in Cape Cod, I was sitting on the shore in Hyannis. I was relaxing with a friend and enjoying the peaceful view of the ocean when I spied in the distance some sort of structure floating in the middle of the water. Upon further investigation, it occurred to me that this structure might actually be a floating dock. And that there was a small building of some sort, with what appeared to be stools, on that dock. What? A bar out in the middle of the ocean? Speaking of brighter paths, I did not care how cold that northern water was, I had to go investigate. My friend agreed. We plotted and planned, knowing that our plan had to be solid before we hit the icy waters. We would have to take an angle and swim what appeared to be, maybe, a half mile? My friend and I decided to set out despite the cold waters and the possibility that we were wrong and that this wasn’t a bar. As my arms sliced through the freezing cold water, I became thirstier and thirstier. Imagining the delicious beer reward at the end of this difficult swim was my motivation. We swam and we swam until we finally reached the dock. It was a bar alright. But…

…it was closed. Disappointment. Expectations not met.

From the dock, we looked back to the shoreline. We look to the right and we look to the left and we realized that if we swam the opposite angle back, we would arrive at a different part of the beach. One that looked intriguing as there appeared to be some rock structures. So we embarked upon second half of our swim taking the opposite angle. When we arrived, we realized we were at the inlet where the ocean meets the bay.

Anytime I go to the beach, the inlet is my favorite place to find and discover. It intrigues me, this battle that exists between the two bodies of water. And look how I arrived here, by complete accident, with disappointment dripping off the let down of no beer, and here I was the most amazing spot on the island. The place where the water appears to whirl in turmoil as the rough ocean and the calm bay battle for their right to exist in the same space.

You never know where are you going to land when you set out on a journey. But the swirls of the water and the crashing of the waves on the rocks, the sheer beauty of nature, was a much more satisfying destination than would have been the beer. Don’t get me wrong, I got a beer later. But this, this natural phenomenon was so well worth the amazing swim. And, think of the exercise we got! Gratitude, discovery, and acceptance.

An inlet reminds me Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark battling out the definition of gratification with other characters in Fountainhead: passion and fire versus virtue and adherence to rules. Rand feels that gratification and following passion is the superior path. But I recall buying into both philosophies at various times while reading the novel, one being knocked out by the persuasive power of the other and then visa versus, sort of like the tumultuous waters of an inlet. But I concluded, when the novel concluded, that balance is the best path for me. Gratification through fiery passion sounds much more fun, but life is also full of responsibilities…inlets are beautiful and so intriguing because they have a balance of both as well.

At this juncture, the inlet spoke to the need for balance amongst the fight that existed inside my one head, serving (pleasing?) those around me and wanting a man to complete me versus discovering love for myself, my own way. It reminded me of balance and acceptance.

I set out for the boyfriend, the floating bar and frosty beer. But got the inlet with swirling water, contemplation and self examination of what is currently battling inside of my own self, trying to reside with peace in my own desires right next to the contradictory desire to serve others. But yet the inlet never gives up or denies the ocean or the bay. Never. Why should I? We can learn so much from Mother Nature. Gratitude, discovery, and acceptance.

Gazing longer at the inlet, it seemed that my past and my future were also represented by this swirling and turbulent water. Why not bring my past back into my present? Why the search for newness? Brighter paths…

Since then, I have made huge efforts (thanks to social media) to reconnect with wonderful people from my past. I had the privilege of hosting two of my college besties for a weekend of fun, laughs, and antics. I have since lost one of those beauties to breast cancer, so I currently feel certain that my efforts to reconnect with my past were the absolute right move toward peace and reconciliation between serving self and serving others. A full weekend with Heather before she lost her battle? One of the best gifts life has offered me. Brighter paths…

I have since cross country skied the hills of New Hampshire, watched college football games in Greenville, celebrated high school friends’ 50th birthdays in Annapolis and Rehoboth, and sipped beers in Richmond, Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks, and Wrightsville Beach with positively poignant people from my past. My old friends accepted me, despite the time and space between us, and this was magical and enlightening. More lucky gifts. Gifts that have shown me how and why the inlet allows both the ocean and the bay to co-exist in its space. The battle that is fought there is full of so much beauty because of its ability to accept.

Am I still doubting the value of my own worth and battling with accepting blame for my own flaws and failures? Reconnecting with my past has given me access to the superpower of being present in the here and now. Gratitude and being present for the event and/or person right in front of us is a superpower that helps eradicate doubt and blame.

Do I have unlimited access to this superpower? Yup. Do I use it all of them time? Nope. But I sure do appreciate it when I remember to summons it. Do you have access to the superpower of being fully present and grateful? Yup.

Try it. You might like it.

I have a gotten amazing feedback for the installments that I have shared so far. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts and reactions with me. Here are a few:

“Thanks for helping me not feel alone in the crazy world of online dating.”

“I love the humor and am reminded of how grateful I am not to be in this ‘single’ position.”

Well, we have to have humor about it all. About staying; about leaving; about being in limbo. But to make our own individual situation work, we also have to be flexible with our expectations and we have to be prepared to reside and be at peace and grateful within the moment. This one. No matter how tumultuous it may be.

PS THANKS!! I am so blessed to be inspiring in some people feelings of support and guidance on their paths and in others feelings of confidence and hope in their decisions.

On deck, renewed confidence sent out on a “set up blind date.” Which, by the way, means we will head away from the sappy life lesson stuff and back to the humor!

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