Live Another Lifetime…
Just yesterday I ran into an old friend at the Good Earth Natural Health Food Store. I’d been meaning to stop in for weeks and check out their offerings of granola since my current source at Kroger’s bulk food section had dried up. Prior to going there, I tried to convince myself to just buy another pre-packaged granola at the grocery store. It’s simpler, I told myself. It’s right here!
But considering how much of it I eat, I really wanted to buy it in bulk to cut down on the environmental waste. And so there I was in the bulk goods section of the oldest health food store in town, reading the labels of the eight or nine types of granola they offer, when a woman’s voice rang out, “Tracy, is that you?!!”
I turned to find this mostly familiar face staring at me. I waited the 5 seconds for my brain to make the connection and then I went in for a hug. It had been at least ten years since I’d last seen Virginia, probably when she came to one of my holiday parties with her new husband Paul. Her hair, once long, curly and brown, was now cut pixie style short and nearly white. But her round cheeks gave me the same positive smile that buoyed me up through a rough life transition 19 years ago.
It was 1999 when I moved in with her . We we were both going through divorces. We had three children each. We had NEVER set out to be single mothers trying to make it alone. But there we were like Leonardo and Kate hanging onto the shipwreck of our lives floating in a dark, unpredictable sea. Neither of us would let the other sink. She let me live with her until I got back on my feet again. I gave her the company she needed to not feel so alone as she rearranged a life she’d planned differently. We didn’t know it, but we were being birthed into a new lifetime.
What makes up a lifetime?
Not so long ago, in 1776, humans could expect to live about 35 years. That was a lifetime. Just think about where most people are in their lives at 35, having completed college, probably married, maybe semi-solid in a career and that’s about it. Just on the verge of entering mid-life crises, we’re ripe for change and the kind of endings that hurt and hone who we are on the inside.
Forty to fifty percent of Americans are facing their first divorce, mid-thirties. Many are wondering whether the career they’ve chosen was the right one. We’ve probably moved in and out of communities several times looking for a sense of home. I was 35 years old when I left my children’s father and started over. At the time, I felt embarrassed and ashamed about my “mistakes.” It was still taboo to be a single mother, as if a certain level of failure follows a woman without a man. I struggled to find my footing and a different sense of self from the one I’d planned with my husband, the father of my children. It took time, acceptance and letting go to finally move forward again.
Nowadays, I realize that in many ways, that version of me had run its course and a new lifetime was needed.
Change in our lives is inevitable and certain. Now that many people live the average lifespan of those in the 1700s three times over, can’t we expect major upheaval will be a natural part of our lives? We may experience more than one marriage, more than one career, more than one residence, etc. Although we often judge ourselves harshly when these changes arise, it’s more normal than you can imagine.
I’m not saying we should go looking for this kind of change intentionally, but when we’re faced with the inevitability of a major shift in the structure of our lives, how long do we hold on to the past? How long do we resist the coming changes? Would it be easier if we knew that a new lifetime was about to unfold and we had the power to make it better than the past? We can never predict the future, but we can listen to our own inner guidance for direction and for healing.
Now, nearly 20 years later Virginia and I stood in the health food store, both having gotten past the starting over and were deep into our new lives. I looked at the face of my friend who was now thriving and happy in her work, and married to a man who loves her. She has all that now because of her willingness to let go of the former life, the one she had worked so hard to imagine and create. She had to listen to where her heart was leading her and to take the steps however haltingly through the darkness of change. I was proud of us both.
They say that cats have nine lives, but I think some adults also transition from one life to another multiple times. We enter and leave jobs, relationships, and places. Circumstances change everything about what we do and think and the ways in which we act. We change our social circles and activities to the point that who we are one year may look completely different from our lives two years later. Yet there is a thread running through the segments and lifetimes we create to support the soul we carry. And I believe that is what we cling to in order to find our way unfolding.