It’s another one of those days when I’m writing, deleting, writing, deleting. A fog has settled over my mind, and it’s always difficult to write through that.
It’s not that things are bad, in general. My mom got through her surgery and is recovering like a champion. I could not be more grateful for that.
Honestly, I’ve just been dreading this particular weekend for a while now, knowing that grief would come back to high tide at this time. And here it is, the waves lapping at my feet, chilling my toes, washing up the things I had wanted to forget.
We all make plans that never come to fruition. I’m always taken aback by how crushing it can be to try to accept that these plans won’t happen–even when they weren’t any big deal. Just some little things you got excited about. A trip, or a gift, or a surprise. Something you were going to share with someone, maybe. Simple. Trivial, even. Maybe just one tiny little thing. If it had happened as you imagined it, it would have passed through your life like a breeze, a diversionary moment that gives you the kind of pure, gentle joy that seems so natural that you take it for granted. We let so many of these moments go unappreciated, which perhaps is the reason we can’t stand to let go of unrealized plans, our perceived chances for fulfillment. People can spend their whole lives trying to find that feeling again, that joy they never even knew they had.
Of course, it’s likely that whatever your plan was, it would not have happened as you imagined, or even if it did, you still might not have gotten whatever it was you were really seeking. Mice and men, and all that. The result could have left you with disappointment instead of contentment. It could have left you with a feeling of emptiness, the sense that some unnamed thing is missing, and you don’t know how or where to find it.
We can get into patterns where we keep trying to fix something that isn’t serving us. We make plans that devastate us with our failure every time. But it’s still hard to give it all up, to let go, to move onto other things. Other plans.
And even when we do begin the process of trying to let go, there are always the seeds we never planted. Even if we know the soil was toxic, even if we saw a thousand seeds never grow in it, or grow into things they were never supposed to be, there is an excruciating pain in not knowing for sure, not having the chance to bury those seeds in the dirt, sprinkle some water over them, and hope. But at some point we have to seek different ground, or we could stay in the same garden forever, planting and obsessing and blaming ourselves for every failure.
Leaving dreams behind will never not be painful. But there are practices that can help bring us some peace. Gratitude is one such practice. We can be grateful for whatever it was that inspired us to want to create a garden in the first place. We can be grateful for the plants did that grow into something beautiful, even if they died later on.
And we can be grateful for our strength, for our ability to persevere, to keep on living after we’ve been hurt and betrayed.
Sometimes we can be grateful that the death of old plans gives us new space to explore, to expand. To make new plans.
Maybe not now. But someday.