The other day, our son said, “I’m going to worry about time.” I said, “Tell me more, why worry about time.” He said, “When I worry about time it goes slower.” He is 8. He is a witness to the world outside him. He sees time as a unit of measuring an experience. He learning to work with this unit to get needs met. We have taught him this.
A few weeks ago, our daughter left for three nights for a school trip. Our son happened to be at a friend’s house, and I was at home without them. Though this has happened many times, this particular time I felt deeply sad. I felt as though I was watching as time pass by and that was time and experiences I could never return to.
I have rarely been nostalgic for time past, but this was different. Here I am a witness to the clear passing of time. It is a remarkable moment. A moment that lingers, I am immersed in the feelings and sensations of something ending. I feel raw and tender. Daily worries slip away and I am clear.
Children are a dramatic marker of time. They shape shift in their growth and if we are lucky and can see their wisdom, we shift too.
When I am clear, I can see the possibility. I am witness to the untetherable potential of a human life. This is my gift. It’s what I do, help see potential and bring that potential to the surface, and make it actionable.
It is not the potential of the next job, or partner or goal. Though those are in there. It is the whole package. Cracking open the shell of normalcy to see the budding possibility inside. The reason we are here in the world. The purpose we all have and may glimpse, but is sometimes hard to reveal and allow it to shift us.
Children do this effortlessly. Then at some point this letting go becomes too much and we begin to hold on, to grasp for whatever tether is out there – time, like our son – regardless of what it is, we just want to feel safe from the unknown.
We have lost sight of how to move with and through these periods of transition, the space in between one place and the next. We lose the wisdom of witnessing and letting go.
Our dear friends have older children. When I witnessed them in the past I wondered, how come I can’t parent like them now. They said have patience, you are laying the ground work and someday it will change. I didn’t think so. I didn’t believe what I couldn’t see. But they saw it, and I held a hope that it might be true.
Now as the kids shift, so I shift too. The things that were important to hold onto then, the things that occupied the space then – timely bed times and meals – are no longer as necessary. When I realize this, I can let them go. This frees up space for, well for space. And in that space emerges the new way, which will eventually need to be let go for space again and a new way.
It is the pain of the transition that prevents us from letting go, the fear of loss. If we don’t understand this sensation in our heart, the crushing feeling, the pressure that manifests in tears and awe and fear, then we may fortify our shell of normalcy and never let go. Like hoarders trying to keep our experiences the same because we fear losing them.
As we transition from spring to summer, as we transition from school year to summer break, whatever your personal transition, I ask you to feel the space, make the space of the transition palpable. Notice the feelings, the desire to stay the same, for normalcy. Then bring your hands to your chest and hold it all in tight. Feel what it is like to hold on. What muscles are activated? What thoughts? What feelings? Hold tighter until it is hard and you shake. Then open your arms, set it free, let it go and feel the shift. What muscles release? What thoughts arise? Feelings? How are you holding on in your life where you need to be letting go? What transition do you need to mark? What is the marker you want to use?
When we take time to mark the transition we reflect on what we learned and then can let go of holding on and experience what is. We give ourselves permission to take the next step, the first step, the one we don’t want to take, as David Whyte says.
Invite perspective, try something new. The world offers itself to you if only you can stop long enough to witness and let go, to make space for the unknown and mark the transition. All is possible and more is probable if we believe.