Thursday, October 2, 2008

gripping the banister

We are moving to our new home next week. Each time I walk down the stairs of the little apartment we have been squeezed into for the past year, I feel my handing gripping the banister, waiting for a fall. There is something about taking the plunge, yet again, that always makes me trip on something, stumbling and falling.
It reminds me of many years ago when my husband and I visited Nepal. I wrote about that life changing experience a little more than a year ago as I prepared for my move from Italy:

My husband and I traveled to Nepal years ago before we got married. I had just sold or given away everything that I owned that couldn’t fit into two big suitcases, except for my books and paintbrushes. I have a thing about my books and paintbrushes. Those I packed in boxes and shipped to Italy.

Everything I needed for our month long trip in Nepal was in my fancy REI backpack. I remember feeling so proud of myself as I walked around the house trying out the pack that I was soon to lug around the Himalayas. I was such a good and efficient packer! The pack wasn’t heavy at all!

Nepal was a wondrous and very foreign country. And let’s just say very
pedestrian. That pack began to weigh more and more everyday. And my husband, being the chivalrous hard body that he is, often stacked mine on top of his (that’s around the time that I realized I should consider marrying him). The farther we walked, the more stuff I left behind. I didn’t really need two changes of socks, so I gave one to the family that had rented us a room in their home for the night. And I didn’t really need two pairs of jeans either, so I left those to someone else. My pack became lighter and lighter and my back began to straighten. My step became swifter and I stopped whining like a brat.

Near the end of our trip, we came upon a
sadhu.



This isn't actually him, but it's pretty close. He was living in a lean-to perched on the bank of a river, and was in a loincloth and nothing else. He had no shoes and nothing to cook or eat with apart from his hands. The trail passed just a few feet from his home, where he sat cross-legged looking out onto the river. As I passed him, his haggard face lit up in a serene smile as he brought his hands together in front of his chest and bowed. Namaste. Literally, I bow to you.

All my life, I have tried to balance my desire for motherhood, for a home, for security, with my desire to live in a way that feels authentic. My union with my husband has made that even more of a priority, as he pushes me more and more towards freedom. We often imagine how we will live when our children are gone from the nest... where we will go and what we will do.

Maybe this is why I ski. Three years ago I was skiing in Italy during a snow storm. It was cold and blustery, and I couldn't see more than three feet in front of me. I was disoriented. I fell and tore the meniscus in my knee, and went through a long, painful recovery. My knee still bothers me today, and most likely will the most of my life. But I made a decision to ski again. It was conscious choice to let go of the banister. I then made a decision to ski faster and higher and steeper. It's not about bravery at all. It's about living.



3 comments:

Greg said...

Your wonderful post resonates well with me. I frequently tell the men I counsel that 1) You have to turn up in your life, & 2) You have to move out of your own way. Your commitment to "letting go of the banister", your "courage to be" is a fine example and an inspiration.

anno said...

I loved this post when I saw it first last year, and I love the way you've framed it here. A banister may save your life (or at least prevent some nasty bruises), but you can really live only if you are willing to let go and find your own balance. There is wisdom in knowing when to do what.

Jennifer said...

I love the way you've revisited this idea of change/living fully.

Good luck with the move. I hope it goes smoothly and you are enjoying your new home in time for the holidays.