November 03, 2016

Sunshine & Shadow

Fall is easily my favorite time of year. There can be golden days with glorious colors and crisp air.

This fall I feel like I'm fumbling through the days and weeks. I've spent a lot of time on my own, trying to sort out who I am, where I am mentally, and what I should do or leave undone. It isn't easy. It isn't straightforward. I can't get a handle on solid answers, so it can feel like I'm not moving forward. When I run into friends and they ask how I am and what I've been up to... I don't know what to say.

Unvarnished honesty? "I spent all day yesterday in my pajamas, trying to journal or play on the piano to process a memory of an interaction with a teacher in fifth grade."

A skimcoat of spiritual struggle? "Today I've been wrestling with God, but I'm not sure what it's about."

Vague phrases that might pass for wisdom? "Lately it's been about facing unnamed fears and learning deeper trust."

It's excruciating to dig down inside myself and see just. how. deep. some of my self-told lies go. Every layer seems to require a cycle of "grieve-get angry-feel like a slug-find a healthier path-try to take baby steps in a new direction." This gets old really fast, by the way.

I just had a brief walk, and on my way down the sidewalk, I looked at light shining on and through bright leaves, dappled shadows flickering in a slight breeze as I walked. Seeing the play of light and shadow, I realized part of this time's purpose is sunshine & shadow.

Sunshine & Shadow is actually a quilting block pattern that puts light fabric next to dark. It uses contrast to put the lines of that pattern in stark relief. How the quilter arranges multiple blocks is up to them. This section of life that feels like it's been going on forever has had times of great joy and relief ("All those times of feeling incapable of finishing anything are, in part, because it's harder for my brain. I have ADHD.") and moments of shadow. There have been a few shadows this week. Learning that one place I use a gift isn't needed anymore, because another person was hired to do that work in-house. I'm glad for the company's sake--they obviously have a need that can now be met more easily by their own staff--but I also feel... lonely. I don't understand where my gift fits, now.

If life is all shadow or all sunlight, it's easy to categorize it and understand it. "Ah, yes! THIS is good. THAT day was not." Real life is rarely so simple. Joy and junk get mixed together, and sometimes I feel dizzy. For now, I'm choosing to acknowledge shadows that come, even if I don't know what to do about them; I'm trying to see and call out the sunshine. I'm learning that there always seems to be beauty somewhere before me, even if I have to look closely and wait in order to see it.

So I'll head back to working on a puzzle (sunshine--order, clearly defined end state) and watching a series about Egypt (shadow, sort of--death, mummies, men with money seeking archaeological fame). If your day is feeling all shadow, I hope you're able to start looking for the sunshine. I promise it's there. Look longer. Listen harder.

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