I have always sought the quiet—to process my thoughts and feelings about whatever is happening in my life.
Last week, I lost an important person in my life, and for the first time I experienced the actual pain of grief—the kind that burrows down inside of our bones and wants to make a home there.
I tried all of my normal ways to deal with and process my emotions, even those that aren’t mindful—but nothing worked. Saturday I woke up, and my entire body ached—something felt broken inside of me.
I spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation on Saturday, alone for much of the day. I did yoga, I wrote, I went for a walk, and then spent the evening with family. I went to bed still feeling like I had a weight on my shoulders that I couldn’t quite shake off.
Sunday morning I woke up, stretched and stared at the ceiling above my head, evaluating how I felt before even getting up. Something felt lighter inside, that ache seemed to have dissipated—but there was energy alive in my body that felt the desire to work.
It was an antsy energy, and rather than spending the day on a drive or out in nature, my body was calling me to work—so I listened.
I made the decision to spend the day scraping paint, sanding and then eventually repainting my front steps. I’ve never minded doing work around the house—I can’t ever get myself to pay someone to do something that I can do myself.
But, I’ve never thought of it as meditation before.
As I began to scrape the old away, I realized what a process this really was and the metaphor didn’t escape me. I thought about all of the things I’ve had to scrape away and get rid of in my own life during the past few years.
Some, I wanted to purge myself of, and others like the peeling worn paint, it was just their time to go.
It’s not easy work scraping paint—nor is it getting rid of what is no longer serving us in our lives, both have to be a conscious choice that we make.
I was hot in the bright June sun and soon my tank top was damp and pieces of hair had escaped my rubber band and were sticking to my skin. My hands got small water blisters on them from scraping all the old away—but still I worked.
Back and forth—peeling little bits away and making the decision to not rush, but to take my time and do it right.
Just like the choices I have been making in my life.
I thought a lot about my life as I scraped and sanded. I thought about the hard work that it takes to be who we truly are and the daily effort to continually scrape away the old. It wasn’t easy to get to this place where I am now, and I guess at one point, I envisioned where I am now and thought the work would be done.
But, the truth of it is, the work never really is done—because we are always going to be dealing with something and being challenged by new things.
I was challenged by the death of my grandmother, because I had thought I had said good-bye to her many times over, the past few years, that in essence of her actual death I thought I would have already processed it and wouldn’t really have to “deal with it.”
How wrong I was.
The entire point of our journey is to understand that the true soul work will never be completed, because to commit to the journey and continue learning is a lifelong process.
It’s an odd thing as I finished up my Sunday project, putting on the finishing touches and glancing down at the paint streaked all over my legs—because no matter what I do I end up getting messy—and thinking about how now my stairs have a fresh start.
They’ve been scraped down, sanded, repaired in places where nails had come loose then repainted to make them more attractive and protect them—-make them last longer.
And I realized as I slowly smiled—that so has my heart.
It’s been scraped down and sanded, even repaired in places, but it’s been refinished and is ready for a fresh new beginning, not because someone else took the time to fix my heart, but because I did it myself.
There are a lot of things in this world that we can use help with, and while I admit that seeking help from others after getting used to do so much on my own will be another challenge to deal with down the road—there are others we must do for ourselves.
Not because we are meant to walk our journey alone, but because at the end of day maybe it’s less about those who’s come in and out of our journey—but more about those who never left.
And maybe that is the biggest lesson of all.