Sometimes, as I’m pushing aside the heavy winter coats and jackets to reach for something in the back of my closet, I’ll see my unworn wedding veil, blinking back at me with starry eyes from inside its protective plastic.
It always makes me pause.
Sometimes while unloading my groceries I’ll notice there are no Wheat Thins and chocolate chip cookies to put away, and how organic kale and almond milk have replaced the space where Lactaid milk once resided.
It took me awhile to get used to writing another name down for my emergency contact for race registrations, as well as learn how to diagnose the lights that would go on in my car. But with each passing year, it feels less jarring, less traumatic in the remembering of it all.
It’s been gradual, but I feel more grounded. More content. More solid. More at ease.
I used to have a succulent plant that would drink in the sun’s rays on my kitchen table, until one by one, its leaves would wrinkle and loosen and fall off. I would assist in this pruning process, ridding the flourishing plant from the unnecessary detached leaves, scooping them out and putting them straight into the garbage.
Eventually, all that remained was a skeletal, emaciated succulent, hanging on for dear life.
I have a friend who approaches life differently.
She takes the leaves that fall off her succulent plant, and re-pots them. Those single leaves grow into full new succulents, and the cycle continues. She now has a windowsill full of succulent plants, all birthed from the broken-off leaves from a mother succulent.
Sometimes we have the choice to break things apart deliberately. Sometimes we don’t—life just shatters unexpectedly.
For me, it wasn’t only a break-up, it was a break-off. I remember those first few months after that sudden, jarring experience, feeling uprooted and disoriented and oh-so-vulnerable, fumbling around in the dark, trying to reestablish who I was, what I loved, who my real friends were. Attempting to make sense and meaning of all the chaos and the darkness, stubbing my toe, banging my head against the wall as I sought out clarity and searched for Light.
What I’ve learned is that it’s all a matter of perspective.
Perhaps things aren’t falling apart—maybe they are falling together, being re-birthed, re-potted, re-planted. Perhaps you can’t become fully realized until you’ve been released from the mother plant, plucked off, falling into your own soil and stretching down your own roots. We must consciously choose—in this moment, in this breath—to grow, to face toward the sun, to sink our roots into the richness of this soil- this life—and thrive wherever we are.
And if some of our leaves break off again, it’s ok.
It’s these shattered pieces that allow new futures to be birthed.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Julianne Kanzaki
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Andrea Parrish/Flickr