This not knowing is as uncomfortable as the vinyl seats in my car on a 90-degree day. I’ve just spent a few hours with my mother-in-law. I’m driving home, back to my holy house, and only my dog is home. My husband is hunting gooey ducks, my eldest is camping with friends, my youngest is swimming with friends. And I’m holding myself in the not-knowing space.
It’s hot here, as I said. The air conditioning doesn’t cut my stickiness in half, it just plays at the edges. The air blows on me like this incessant question: What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?
What’s next is my 13-year-old no longer fitting comfortably next to me when the night keeps her awake. What’s next is a husband more awake to adventure, let’s do this and this and this. My 16-year-old parrots him, but she leaves out the us. She’s off on escapades; she shares her pictures every time she returns.
This time she shows me a picture of herself jumping off a rock. Says it took one of her friend’s an hour to jump off the same rock into the cool river below on the 90-degree day. That would have been me, I said.
That’s how I feel: I’m on the rock and I’m continually being asked to jump without knowing what’s next. It’s a reminder of how fearful I was my senior year of high school, my senior year of college, right after I moved by myself to Seattle to remake my life. It’s like that entire first year of my eldest daughter’s life: what did I do, how am I going to raise this beautiful being? Here I am, on the cusp of something new.
After I’m out of my sticky car and into the cool air of the grocery store, I run into a former yoga teacher of mine, an acquaintance who I see around town. I can’t believe you have a 16-year-old, she says. I can believe it, but what I can’t believe is my future spreading out wide, me not knowing what is next. I tell her I hope there’s something new and interesting ahead.
Until then, I’m listening to what teacher Tara Brach says. As I feel these deep, rich feelings, I’m listening to them. She asks me where I feel them in my body. I know I feel anxiety in my stomach, but where do I feel loss and change? Where do I feel gain, too? The gain of watching my eldest run toward her future with glee. I don’t know that I had anything to do with that, but it’s worthy of me bowing down to the miracle. I get to observe that. It is enough, I tell you, it is enough.