Walk through the woods with a friend I haven’t seen for a year or so but feeling as close as one can. The sun throws handfuls of warmth and brightness at us through tall trees. We take photos, share bits of life and laugh so hard our cheeks hurt. She tells me about the rocking chair. The way someone wise told her on that day of tough decisions when the sky seemed irreparably broken in a million pieces of darkness. “Many years from now you’ll be sitting in a rocking chair and memories will come sit on your lap like old pets. I want you to ask yourself which things you’ll regret the most, the ones that happened to you or the ones you did not let happen because you did not dare listen to that little voice inside?”… There’s withered dead leaves everywhere and then there’s new ferns growing on trees in shades of green bright and bold…
Open arms. You know when it happens. It’s like this: you take a deep breath and drop a bomb (life truths as you feel them) and the arms are there to hug you. No questions asked. Just arms, wide open and there. And you take two steps back and shake your head and think it cannot be, because you see, the life things you’re spilling out are not necessarily the ones that are most pleasant to chew on. For you or others. They come in challenging flavors, they are wrapped up in fear and uncertainty. They shake you and make you reconsider the things you had already accepted as comfortable politically/socially-correct universal herd truths, the ones that we generally accept because. But real life is a few steps away from that. Real life is the rain pounding on you from all directions, it is the umbrella that was supposed to keep you dry but the wind broke it in half and it is the hot sun that wraps around your head singing crazy beautiful songs until you fall flat on your back, you splash away and start laughing. That’s real, you say it as it is, you put yourself on the line and there are open arms to hug you. Don’t question them. I did, but no more.
It’s a gift. Open arms. They know who they are, the people with open arms in my life. The ones I could call at this late hour when I should be sleeping instead of writing and they’d pick up the phone and make sure they’d hold the phone between shoulder and ear so that the arms are free to hug me whether they are thousands of miles away or just down the street. And I do the same. I always did. Open arms and all. But here’s the catch. It is only recently that I’ve learned this great secret. It is as much a gift to offer the open arms as it is to receive it. It means trust on both sides. It means being vulnerable and still dancing, crying and laughing and peeking out from behind heavy curtains of fear. It means not being afraid of yourself, of who you are today and who you’re trying to be tomorrow. It means feeling grateful.
So I figured it’s time to thank the open arms in my life and the big hearts they grow from. Acknowledge yours too. And do know that syrupy posts like this come but once in a blue moon. Rite of passage. So there. The walk home took us through tunnels of cherry trees dusted with sunshine. At home I made coffee.