I was recently watching the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” where the main character, Elizabeth, and her friends were discussing if cities and people had one word to describe them. While each person seemed to know the perfect word, Liz couldn’t come up with what seemed a good fit. Her friend said “Maybe you are a woman in search of a word.” That stayed with me, because a person in search of a word is in search of who they really are.
I have had many words that described me over the years: wallflower, hopeless romantic, creative, nerd, free-spirited, stubborn, bossy, generous, loving, efficient, adventurer, introvert, single, married, divorced, etc. Each of these words has described facets of my personality, but none of them have ever quite hit the mark. I don’t know if there is a word that could completely describe one person, but I believe there might be a word or phrase that seems to describe different stages of life.
Having just recently had a milestone birthday, I realized I’m a woman in search of a word. But a new word takes time to develop. It must incorporate the old ones that described your past stages and life lessons learned along the way. It should bring together the inevitable cracks in your walls and the random wild flowers that bloom in those new spaces. It must merge the weather-worn and fiercely polished stones with that one brilliant piece of gold that shines when the sun hits it just right. It is past, present and hopeful future blended into one superlative description that seems to just cry “You!”
I don’t know yet what that word will be, but whatever it is, it will be beautiful.
Walking barefoot in the sand Carrying white sandals in my hand The cool water tickles, teases and nibbles my toes… Calling “Come play!” But I am deaf to the laughing waves.
The heart of the sun breaks light into glorious prisms Dancing in a glittering panorama of wordless joy… But blindly I only see the painful and negative memories… listening to lies.
Caught up in my melancholy I stare out at the horizon beyond the cerulean sea… Trying hard to build new castles in the air… Failing and feeling nothing but despair.
Yet the ocean is calling… “Come to me Melissa and be carefree… Let me carry your heavy burdens And lose yourself in my infinity…”
A wave gives me a gentle nudge And I finally look up Seeing for the first time The sunset colors in painted rhyme Across an ocean of possibilities. I am awakened by its boundless beauty.
As the evening star appears My mother’s voice comes through the years “You are enough…” she whispers. I wipe away an unbidden tear. The wave responds with a gentle splash and I laugh seeing my future glimmer once again Just beyond the horizon…
I often take walks in the evening when the roads are quiet and the people are tucked into their homes. I like the solitude of it and the time to listen to my thoughts. It’s often at this time that I let the mask slide away and how I’m really feeling will reflect itself on my face.
As I wander along the road, I look at the stars, the shadows the black mountains make against a dark blue sky, listen to the soft rustle of leaves, and lift my face to the gentle night air that cools the sting. Then, after a while, the difficult thoughts come to the surface and I face my own reality.
No matter how many times I have chased after my dreams, insurmountable roadblocks always seemed to rear their ugly heads. I tried to move them somehow or find a way around them, but I couldn’t…and my heart has ached at one failed dream after another.
Loved ones have often tried to cheer me up by saying that Destiny, Fate or God must have something else planned for me. I would like to believe that, but sometimes those pretty cliches just don’t work when you’ve gone through a thousand disappointments. After a while, you just feel worn out and realize that maybe it’s time to let go.
So I begin the letting go with solitary walks, tears, quiet music, flowers and chocolate… always chocolate.
I believed in fairy tales then reality came crashing through. Shattering my fantasy into a thousand glittering pieces of nonsense
Ah…to learn is to grow But the growing is pure pain Forced tender shoots Through impassable roots I must struggle upwards again
Tendrils twining around broken branches I must find my footing in murky waters Clinging to an everlasting hope of the impossible.
I wrote this post a few years ago when an old church I cared about had burnt down. It seems just as relevant today with the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral. Since Easter is this Sunday, this post seemed a good reminder that we can all rise out of the ashes to become something better than we once were.
And so today…this is for Notre Dame and all that it has meant to the many over the years.
Everyone has been through their fair share of disappointments in life. I have yet to talk to a single person who has said that their lives turned out exactly like they thought it would. Even talking with people in their early to mid-twenties, I have found that they say the same thing. They thought life would be…different. No matter your age or place in life, you will experience disappointments. It’s just a part of life. How we handle these disappointments, though, is what develops our character. Coming through the disappointments and learning how to handle them can be what makes or breaks us.
Recently, I was reading an article about a local landmark that had burned down a couple of years ago. It had been used as a church and a meetinghouse for various activities for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through an accident, the place was practically burnt to the ground with nothing but a few blackened walls and stained glass windows remaining. It was heartbreaking for all of those who had loved the old building and had many memories of it. The frame stood empty for a while until those who owned the building could figure out what best to do with the land. It was announced later that the old landmark was going to be rebuilt into a temple to be used by worthy members of the church. The building that had been used for Sunday meetings and various other events was now going to be used for a higher purpose.
As I read that article, I thought about my own life. I thought of the number of disappointments that I have been through in my life and especially in the last few years. I began to wonder if I was like that burnt-out frame. After a very recent devastating disappointment, I had decided to just stop dreaming for a while. I was tired of getting my hopes up to have them crushed again. But while reading through that article, I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, God had a different plan for me. Here I am trying to build a nice, comfortable life, but maybe He’s trying to build something grander. I don’t know what He has in mind, but it’s a beautiful thought: to think that, with His help, that my life might mean something greater than it does at the moment. He knows so much better than I.
The above title is in reference to a song written by U2, one of my all-time favorite bands. Though the lyrics of the song speak of another subject, the title seems to permeate down to the inner most recesses of my soul. It seems to have become the motto of my life.
When I was young, traveling about the world and moving was exciting. It was thrilling to think about what lay just beyond the edge of my vision.
But these days, moving and starting over has become a chore to be endured. I’ve done it so many times that I can’t remember all the places I’ve lived. There have been multiple and various reasons for the moves and all of them logical (though many people just call me crazy). From job changes to difficult living circumstances to inability to afford where I was living, I’ve moved more than most people will move in a lifetime.
Yet the real truth is I’m “running to stand still.” I’ve had a dream and a vision of my life that has never come to fruition. A cottage-like home of my own surrounded by flowers and greenery, a loving husband, 2 cats (yes, must have my cats!), books and a window overlooking my garden as I write my novels. Simple, peaceful and quiet…my “still” place. I was never very materialistic (though I always joked with my girlfriends that I would marry a millionaire), I just wanted a cozy, quiet place to call my own.
Yet, for whatever reason, this has eluded me. I still rent a room in someone else’s house. I still struggle on a daily basis to meet the financial basics of life. My relationships have been…well, we’ll save that for another day. And my writing, though it has improved, has yet to bring me the steady income I have sought. The dream of my little cottage seems as far removed from me as it did when I was a young girl. Even the most hopeful of people get discouraged sometimes and today is that day.
But…as I’ve pointed out many times, who knows what tomorrow will bring? And so, with a sigh, I close another day with still a flicker of hope that I will yet see my dreams become a reality.