Perfect summer moment in park inspires realization

Today my plans for lunch fell through. I had planned to hit a drive-through and sit in the park, but I had walked to work, and in the busy-ness of the morning, I forgot that I didn’t have wheels.

After pondering for a moment, I decided to hoof it to a local sandwich shop and then to the park. Not a big change, but wow, what a rewarding one!

Taking a seat on a bench by the water, I took in my surroundings. It was the perfect afternoon. Not too hot, not too cold. Just the right kind of breeze. A beautiful bridge to my left, a park filled with happy patrons to my right, a glistening river punctuated by a family of ducks practically in my lap, surrounded by summer’s lush foliage.

And I thought … “How lucky am I?”

How lucky am I that I can walk out the door of my work, grab a sandwich and be in the park within a few blocks. I have my health, I’m happy … I was loving the moment. I pondered others not feeling quite so lucky that day and said some prayers for them.

Of course there have been days I have felt not so very lucky. One day about seven years ago, my world went black and I didn’t want to wake up in the morning for a very long time. I remember being disappointed I hadn’t passed in my sleep and had to face yet another day of pain. I thought I would never look forward to another day ever again. Really.

Quite different from today, where I sit on a bench that I refer to as the Crying Bench for reasons I won’t explain. I’m not crying today, though. Today is someone else’s turn to cry. And someday, hopefully, they will find their way to the light again. To find happy where there once was sadness and heartbreak. To replace sad memories with happier ones.

It is possible. Life is full of cycles. They are unavoidable. The best we can do is simply get through. One day at a time.

An old family friend once suggested I move to Las Vegas, where he resided, to start anew. I laughed and said sure, it sounds nice at first, but where would I find work? And how far would I need to commute? Could I walk there? Bike? Would I feel safe walking my dog (my very fuzzy, thick-coated, made-for-Wisconsin winters kind of dog) for miles in the area around my home? And after dark?

Could I drop a kayak in the water 10 minutes from my home? Would I feel safe riding my motorcycle around the city for hours? Could I sit on the porch and enjoy my neighbors? What sense of community would I find? Would I even have a sense of community? There was just so much missing. From the look on his face, he’d never considered any of these things.

Our wonderful little town offers all these marvelous things. As I sat on the bench enjoying the blue sky above, the picturesque boats moored in the distance, the wind’s patterns on the surface of the water and the birds’ constant calling to each other, I almost forgot I had to go back to work. Really.

No fear of getting shot by an angry terrorist, no fear of my children being taken by wildlife, just sitting and enjoying the simplest of moments in this little slice of my day.

How lucky are we?

If you’re not feeling so lucky today, I wish you hope for the day that you do. May you find the courage, wisdom and strength you need to get to that day.

It won’t be the day you think it will be. There will be many days you think you’ve come to the clearing, but then you’ll slip back. This is OK, and how it’s supposed to be.

You can’t force that day, or wish it closer. You have to do the tedious work of the waiting. It’s important work. It teaches you things you don’t realize you have to learn, and you won’t realize you’re learning them … until “The Day.”

So I suggest to you that you get busy, right now. Find a way to channel that pain, to put it to good use creating something better … something bigger than yourself and the ache you feel.

Keep focused on this work while you wait for The Day. The day you sit in a park on a glorious summer afternoon and recognize all the beautiful things that make you think, “How lucky am I?”

Don’t ever doubt that it is coming. It is.


Originally published June 24, 2016.

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