I have often navigated many of my life experiences with the assistance of a song, and sometimes even an entire album, to match the quality and mood of whatever I was moving through at the time. Between the melody, lyrics, and emotions expressed through the music, I didn't feel quite so alone. Most recently, my theme song is a musical theatre number called "Always Starting Over" from the show If/Then. The fabulous vocalist, Idina Menzel, sings it. I've never seen the show, but I gather from the lyrics that it's about a woman moving on after a break up. Idina's raw, powerful voice conveys the strength and courage required to rebuild a life. I find it quite fitting right now, as I move forward in my life, post-divorce.
I cry every time I hear it, especially as it builds up to the crescendo.
Every. Single. Time.
There's something about the rawness of her voice and the intensity of the music in that moment; I feel like an exposed nerve. Palpable feelings of overwhelm, excitement, and terror consume me as I face the inevitable truth that I am about to launch into the next phase of my life, which, at this point, is ultimately a bunch of question marks.
These feelings aren't unfamiliar. I know them quite well, actually. I felt the same way the first time I dove twenty feet from the top of a boat into the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. And when I hiked a treacherous trail on a mountain somewhere in the jungles of Thailand, with thirty of the most fearless teenagers in that country; we were supposedly on a "field trip" that I'm certain it would not have been legal here in America. These feelings come on when I'm at a precipice in my life, when I've reached the edge of my comfort zone, when I'm standing at the threshold of an open door.
I felt the same way when I knew without a doubt, in the deepest of part of my heart, that after eight long years, my marriage and all of the energy, love, and hope I had invested in it, had come to an end.
And I feel the same way now, as I begin the countdown to the day that I board an airplane to leave this little island that's been my home for the past all my life, and literally embark on a voyage into my new life. Call me crazy, but for now, I've chosen my sister's apartment in New York City as my safe place to land. Even though I have some idea of what awaits me when I arrive, in many ways, I haven't a clue what my future holds for me there.
Frankly, I'm terrified.
But what's beautiful about the fear this time around is that I've been through enough breakthroughs in my life to know that it's actually fear of the unknown. I can spiral into full-blown panic and do "the freak out" if I really want to. Or, the nerves can become excitement, kind of like rocket fuel as I power up to launch. Fear isn't good or bad- it's simply information. And what's more, because I know what fear feels like, I also know what courage is. One can't be known without the other, you see.
In the past, I created much of my own anguish by lingering at the threshold of those open doors in my life. Paralyzed by indecision, poised in the terror of choosing between what was old, familiar, comfortable, but usually dysfunctional, or the possibility of something new, most likely better, but completely foreign.
It felt more like jumping off a cliff than walking through a door.
I know now from my past experiences that once I push past that barrier of the terror and pain, into what my teachers call the Divine Unknowing, doors fling open and magic happens. Courage is like a muscle, you see. The more it's used, the stronger it gets. So is trust, for that matter.
I've spent some time in the Divine Unknowing before, and I learned that without fail, help and support simply appeared, as if from nowhere. Even though this new land felt totally unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and downright frightening, I managed to land safely, find my footing, and navigate the new terrain.
I imagine that's why it's called the Divine Unknowing.
Eventually, the energy behind the fear does transform, and better still, into awe and enthusiasm. Before I know it- is it possible that I'm actually having fun? I remember how exhilarating it felt to splash into the warm ocean after taking that twenty-foot plunge off the top of the boat. And when I went hiking on that momentous "field trip" with my Thai teens- I was so intoxicated from all the danger and the thin air at the summit of that mysterious, godly mountain. The connection I felt to those fierce, adolescent warriors, and to Mother Nature herself, through sharing that blessed experience, touched my heart in a way that I couldn't help but weep in wonder and amazement when I reached the peak. And in the first few weeks that I was living alone, after moving out of the home I shared with my ex-husband, I remember the first time I heard the sound of my own laughter again. It sounded strange, at first. Unfamiliar. And soon it became uncontrollable. Giggles tumbled out of my mouth endlessly as my whole being expanded in the joy and freedom I felt in finally becoming the author of my own life.
What once felt dreaded, painful, unfamiliar, and out-of-control had become my new resting place.
I just had to summon up the courage to walk through that open door.
So here I am, at yet another open door in my life, lingering at the threshold again. But this time around, I know better. I know that when life moves, it does so for me. Like an invisible hand, a guiding force greater than myself, and a loving one, at that. One that wants every single one of us to live in joy.
I also know that this force resides within my very soul, and in each of yours, too. And that right now, it's asking one simple thing of me:
To just take that next step. One foot in front of the other.
I'm reminded of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.- one of my heroes. It's been my mantra during this transition.
If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.
See you on the other side of the door.