This Blog has been woefully neglected over the last few months. The demands of adjusting to my new life – putting in place all those things necessary to survive such as supporting a home and working at a new job – have taken more energy than has felt available. Times of transition can be exhausting; they bring both pain and joy. The excitement of newly discovered potential being given the chance to unfold and flourish is something to be treasured but there has been a good deal of shedding and sadness that has accompanied this leap of faith so recently made. I am as tired as I have ever been.
Being single again after such a long married life has meant engaging with some tricky logistics regarding finances. Separation leaves many people in reduced circumstances; money is undoubtedly tight but I am learning to support myself. This brings a sense of achievement but hovering on the poverty line also brings some strain and worry too. My current job scores low on satisfaction and pay, high on boredom, repetition and compromise. This is an extra drain and has the double whammy of not even paying enough to truly compensate for the time and energy it takes. Despite this, I have to remind myself that it is serving a purpose – a short-term strategy; one necessary step on the route to better things.
It has all rather felt like I have been balancing upon a plank set on top of a ball, shifting my weight constantly to keep upright, always in motion, never still. I have longed to step off for a bit, feel some solid ground beneath me, but for now that is not an option. My partner reminds me to be patient, be proud of the positive achievements I have made so far; it is sound advice but then patience was never my strong point, and once you have walked off a cliff, there is a longing to fly. I am a clumsy fledgling, my wings in need of strengthening. Time and practice are everything when we are learning new skills and this is no less when it comes to the skills we need for living. These change as our lives change and so we are required to keep learning.
This place of beginnings is a curiously vulnerable one. I feel as if all my known ways of responding and coping have become oddly redundant and I am forced to acknowledge that I have become a novice overnight. This is an uncomfortable feeling at the age of forty five. Shouldn’t I have cracked this living thing by now? Shouldn’t I be comfortably well off? Well established in a career? Apparently not. Life has an uncanny knack of mutating just at the moment that we assume we have it licked – not that I ever felt entirely convinced that I did.
All this reminds me of those feelings of cluelessness as a child, believing that every adult knew just about all there was to know and I was at the start of a long journey of discovering some arcane knowledge; in a dim, distant future I would finally be initiated and all would become startlingly clear. Of course, that never really happens. As an adult, I realise that the old cliché about the longer you live, the less you know, has a good deal of mileage left in it. I am still clueless! Perhaps we all walk round with a certain amount of puzzlement and uncertainty, even if we are particularly good at bluffing. Perhaps a good few of us pretend that we know the rules, the requirements, the solutions and the point, convincing others and even ourselves?
What seems certain is that we will always come to that edge when the urge to fly stirs, when we sense that it is time to become a little more of what we were meant to be but find that we can only flap and stumble. Life can then act like a firm but knowing mummy bird pushing us from our nest. We might never feel ready, and left to our own devices would remain in the place that offers the most comfort and the least challenge. Doing that, of course, has a higher price than we might initially suspect because without taking those plunges, we never truly live.
And so (not for the first or last time in my life) I am a fledgling once again: stuttering and ungainly, my plumage dishevelled and faintly ridiculous, being prodded relentlessly by some unseen existential beak. It can be very tough on one’s self-esteem to be in that place of cluelessness but I have lived long enough to know that along with feeling foolish and untutored, along with all the risks and pitfalls that surround it, comes the opportunity to accomplish something wonderful. These things take time but the key moment is the first trembling step – full of danger and anticipation, fear and doubt. That faltering step launches us off the edge into our true element.
I have already begun…