Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Mid-Winter's Comma

The most interesting thing I ever heard said about the comma has to do with its function in relation to the passage of time. When you read text aloud, the comma denotes a place to insert a pause - a short period of silence to allow you to digest the previous phrase before delving into the next.

I have just been given the gift of a big plump comma by my girls: Beth, my fiancee and Rebecca, my 8-year-old "practically" daughter. They have just departed for a 5-day trip to West Virginia, where Beth is calling at the Contradancer's Delight Holiday dance festival.

Part of me has been dreading the time alone. I mean, it's the holidays, right? It's not a time to be alone, it's a time to gather around family and friends and create our own warmth on these darkest, coldest days of the year - especially after experiencing such a difficult year. Right?

But the more I think about it, a pause for reflection is just what I need right now.

It's been a humdinger of a year - one that included the short sale of my home and my filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Needless to say, my lifestyle has changed drastically, and I have struggled to adapt. Most of the challenge to adapt has centered around my emotional state. It's a lot to digest.

My fiancee has been amazing, understanding and supportive. I don't know where I'd be without her. She's beginning to convince me that unconditional love really is possible.

One of my biggest challenges is holding it together as my fiancee and I co-parent a very precocious 8-year-old. There are times when I simply want to turn off the world and meditate, or quietly plan my next steps - ironically that seems to be when our small house is the most chaotic and noisy. Sometimes, I remember to breathe deeply and take it in stride. More often, unfortunately, I succumb to frustration and impatience, asking curtly to be left alone. This tends to happen at the moments when my fiancee and/or daughter need attention the most. Eventually, I settle down and approach my girls to apologize for being such a grump and then make the time to give them the attention they deserve.

Though I already miss them (they've been gone maybe 90 minutes?!), I know I must make the best of this time.  Though the girls wish I was with them, they know I need a little solitude, and let me have it without a second thought. So for me, 'tis the season for introspection.

I want to explore my options, decide what my next move will be. Right now, the choices seem overwhelming: A new career? A slight shift in career? What kind of shift? Where to search for guidance? What can I do differently right now that will benefit me and those around me?

At this moment, I think the best thing to do is to look, listen and explore. I want to limit distractions, which can be so easy indulge. I have some great books to read. I can meditate. I can sit in the sun and listen to the birds go about their business. I can teach myself a few more web development tricks. I can simply BE.

In short, I can honor that comma by being as present as possible during this generous pause between Christmas and New Year's. I pledge to keep my eyes, ears and mind wide open and create as much mid-Winter's silence and peace as I can. I will trust that by embracing the void for a few days, the very  things I need will arrive to fill it.

And lastly, I will heed the message my daughter left me just before she left:

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