“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard
The above quote couldn’t be truer than it is in my life right now, and I’m not even halfway there to understanding the rest of my life’s journey. My re-invention so far has taught me to trust the process, to take the next step without seeing the whole staircase, to lose sight of the shore, and that I can’t cross a chasm with two small steps; that some things require one big leap and I can’t, indeed mustn’t, be afraid to take it.
My first big leap was trusting my husband would catch me, and I blindly jumped off the ledge into his arms by marrying him. The second big leap was trusting my husband will catch me and my son as a package deal, a challenge he has beautifully risen to. The third big leap was leaving my country of citizenship in Belgium Europe, packing all my belongings in a container and shipping it to my mother back home and setting out across the pond to start a new life with the man I had married a year earlier.
Sometimes life doesn’t leave you a chance to do things halfway, to test the waters, to try it out first. Sometimes life demands ‘all in’. Discerning those times is a vital part of our progress and happiness in life, crucial to not missing life’s opportunities, and indispensable to catching life’s breaks, which can be few and far between.
Would I have had the courage to lose sight of the shore had I not had my husband’s wind beneath my wings? I dare not lie and say yes. I rarely ever dreamt before him, I was stuck in the realm of ‘reality’ that entraps so many of us. I was a single mum raising a vulnerable young boy, I had to be sensible; there could be no following of dreams under those circumstances. If I gambled and failed, the stakes would have been too high. My son was watching me, relying on me, learning from me, staking his whole existence on mine.
Was that the prison of my mind? I couldn’t tell you then but now I wonder more and more. Did I have liberties I was not aware of? Were there margins I could have played within and not fallen off the edge? I’ll never know. My Prince Charming arrived and would not rest until I first dreamt, and then again until I could let those dreams take flight and lift me up with them. Today I walk taller, my step is surer, my heart lighter.
I have since taken a few more leaps, like switching careers at the apex of my academic achievement; taking a job abroad in an epic fight for my mental sanity after a horrific and devastating loss, nearly drowning (literally) to secure a coveted job, then yet another leap in resigning from that job abroad to take one back home to be closer to the man I love and the child that is my very life.
I don’t pretend to have a remedy for anyone stuck in their reality, real or perceived. I shudder at the thought of doling out advice or passing judgment on anyone else’s station in life. I am simply little old me, making my way through life best I know how; and so very grateful for the breaks I’ve caught as I journey on. Still I pray you have the courage I never had before to test the waters sooner, to play in the edges of your life, to trust in yourself more. To live.
I leave you with Steve Job’s 2011 words that echo Søren Kierkegaard’s 1843 quote all those many decades ago, more than a century and a half earlier. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
Dutifully yours, Helena Grey ღ