I am watching the children play.
Tears are forming.
I am hearing their laughter from a distance, though they are right in front of me.
We are together and yet a cosmos apart.
They are free, fully in their childhood, their innocence.
Alive, vibrant, full of vitality.
I am a witness, marvelling at their simple magnificence, at the brilliance of their natural, unhindered embodiment.
Tears well and gather in pools behind my lashes. They gently begin to flow.
By the end of each year I am a vessel too small to contain the bigness of my emotions.
They burst out in spontaneous bouts of laughter, become snappy dance moves in supermarket aisles, they sometimes seep down my cheeks in rivulets of un-stoppable tears.
By the end of each year, regardless of my self-care and soul-supporting practices, I am exhausted.
My peers and my observation of others, tell me I’m not alone.
Being this honest could feel like an admission of failure.
But if being truthful means I’ve failed by modern day standards, then I’m happy to be at the bottom of the class.
It feels more important for me to be real, than be right.
And as for truth, I am continually discovering it is never just one thing.
It is an amalgam, a mixed bag of many.
Paradoxes, ironies, dichotomies.
I lean into them all, accepting them and me as we are – transient, tremendous, tired.
At the end of this year I find I am fiercely proud of my professional work, my passionate support of myriad programs and feeling more than ever, deeply privileged to be a parent.
I am also pooped.
I have taken and enjoyed real times of rest and relaxation.
And I have also been so revved up by life’s fast pace, that at times I’ve found it hard to slow down.
I have been graced and given to and received so fully in the spirited dance of divine flow.
And I have also occasionally had to lock down my feelings and sensitive heart to simply get on with the daily tasks required of me.
My truth tells me, I am vulnerable, versatile and so very tough.
I can plough forward like an army tank yet still feel the blessing and tender touch of dewy grass. I am gracious in my morning rush out the door. I am a queen as I do the dishes at night.
I think back to the years I moved across our planet without money or home. When I lived way outside the comforts, confines and structures of our western life.
Times spent surrendered to the seasons, deeply connected to our earth. Time immersed, devoted to simplicity, trust and deep truth.
No one is more surprised than me to find me back here.
In a place where we are expected to function and thrive inside a system that demands perfection but never allows it.
To provide quality services in spite of impossible standards.
To try to stand sovereign in a world that prefers similarity and submission.
But here I am. We are.
This is a truth.
I am stopped, separated from it all now as I sit and fully immerse myself in the children’s joyful antics.
My tears are streaming and I’m letting them wash over me.
They carry in them the cellular memory of the all the pain and excitement, the tremendous fear and love I felt when my womb opened and allowed these big-eyed, brilliant creatures into the world.
They carry in them the years and seemed lifetimes of licking ice cream off noses, cooling fevered brows, cradling their once tiny forms through their own cries and fears.
My tears do not remove any struggles of times passed, but by bringing them to the surface, allowing them, these memories and feelings are softened, surrendered and soaked with a spirit of gratitude for the simple, sweet life from which they were born.
I know for so many of us it has been another year of stretching into new territory, sacrificing our time and energy, surrendering to a path with no guarantees.
We know, regardless of our struggles, It has been worth it.
That it is a great privilege.
One beyond my dear friend who lies now in her palliative care bed.
I sit in the playground, holding her heart in mine as our combined and overwhelming sorrow and gratitude courses down my cheeks.
She will not know the ending of a year beyond this one.
I hold her precious truth close as she leans in and courageously let’s go of a life that I still have the chance to live.
I look around.
On the faces of other adults I see strain and also smiles. I see weariness and moments of sweet wonder. I see fatigue and an overarching sense of family, community and fun.
We are humans, experiencing life in all its forms.
We don’t give up.
We give over, to the reality of life – to it’s endless emotional and energetic shifts.
We enjoy and we endure.
And sometimes we arrive at a place beyond them both – into the sacred space of equanimity.
Where we remember that none of it really matters.
Where we give ourselves over to something greater than ourselves.
The children whoop and play.
My heart is opening, breaking in another of its infinite ways.
Who would have thought it could hold so much?
Who would have known it grows like a great tree inside my chest – roots reaching deep into my being, branches bursting beyond me to the sky?
My tears are gushing now. My nose drips.
I am quiet, settled into the sensation of their release.
Some parents shoot me concerned glances.
Slide over to where I am.
I have no words to adequately explain.
I don’t want to try.
Like our rambunctious children could not otherwise express the fun and sweetness of their togetherness, I cannot share my own mix of pride, pain and personal euphoria at simply being here, at being part of this great play called life.
My tears are no different to their laughter.
An expression of truth. My truth.
My own sweet moment of freedom.
I let them fall.
I allow it all.
(c) Chandu Bickford 2018