Bare with me….
This one is messy….
Last night, after tucking the boys into bed, finally backing up my laptop so I could upload Chet’s nine month photos, and cleaning up the house (excluding the kitchen and my bedroom), I crawled into bed (over the pile of laundry) to read the last two chapters of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Have you heard of this book yet? Have you read it? It was recommended by Oprah. It’s on New York Times best seller. Yet I hadn’t heard of this book until a friend recommended it. (Thank you Riya!). As soon as I finished the last page, wiped tears from my face, and went to place it on my bedside table, I wanted to go back to the beginning. I wanted to reread the entire book and digest it a little deeper. I wanted to pull out a highlighter and mark up my favorite pages. I wished I was 22 again and waking up to go to a literature class to dissect every word instead of a job shuffling through emails and contracts.
My first love, my first true deep love and connection in this world, has always been books. It’s simple. I love words. I love stories. I love being a witness to a life journey. My second love has always been the trees. And then I fell deeply in love with a little boy, and a grown man, and another little boy (in that order). This book has a little bit of all of that excluding the boys, but it is her journey to self-love which can blossom into a deeper love for husbands and children and life and books and trees.
Do you ever wonder why certain memories remain so vivid?
Just after my 21st birthday, I sat on a plane next to my mom flying out to Arizona. I was reading a magazine. The magazine told the story of young people who did mission work. They flew to Cuba to deliver medical supplies. I remember a longing inside of me. I felt a connection to those individuals. I longed to return to Cuba (after living there in the 8th grade) and venturing out beyond the gates around the military bases to the real country of Cuba. I could teach. I was a few semester away from graduating from college. I was studying the one thing I truly loved – English. And books. And writing. As a back up I was studying education as well. I could fly to that country and I could teach. It seemed like a dream.
I didn’t know yet I could actually make dreams come true.
That magazine got shoved into my carry on. The dream got buried deeply beside it. When I returned from that trip out west, I said yes to a man I tried to break up with before leaving on that plane. I married him a year later. A year after that I had his baby. I’ve never returned to Cuba. I have never taught in a formal setting. But I fell head over heels in love with that little boy, and my life started to reveal itself. When I had that itty bitty baby, I realized that I can make dreams come true, but it is up to me. The world isn’t going to deliver a dream.
This morning as I drove to work, I wiped more tears from my cheeks. I still struggle leaving my baby every single day. My heart wants to be at home with him. The same thoughts always bubble to the surface as I shed these tears. Would working be easier if I loved my job? Would it be worth the time away? But the mom in me always fights those thoughts. Since I need to work, my job provides so much flexibility that isn’t found in other jobs. I never miss a school party. I’m always home with my sick babies. I can leave early on days my heart can’t stand to be away for another second.
But I still cry on my way to work.
Will there ever be an answer to those questions? I know now that dreams are not delivered. Dreams are earned and I do know how to make them come true. Unlike that twenty-two year old girl on an airplane, perhaps I don’t know exactly what my dreams are right now. Or perhaps I’m shoving them back into a carry-on to be lost with magazines and stories about Cuba. Or perhaps the demands of life (those silly things called bills) are getting stacked on top of the dreams. Which one should be placed on top? Although I think i prefer them to be messy.
I don’t have an answer to any of my own questions. And to be honest, I don’t really want one. Every single day I’m lucky enough to love my boys. Each week I’m lucky enough to put on running shoes and reconnect with myself on the trails in our state park. Every day I find my yoga mat, I find contentment with my life as it is right now.
I have dreams. Really big dreams. And they include raising my boys to be amazing men. They include creating a warm healthy loving relationship with my husband (the 2nd one. the perfect one.) that I hope my boys will duplicate on some level as the grown up. And they include so much more. They include all the pieces of me that have existed since I first fell in love – with life, with books, and trees, and babies, and my husband – but most importantly, they include everything I love about me.
Yes. I have dreams. No. I don’t have answers. But it really is the simple things. And I’m really good at the simple things. Nothing makes me happier than a baby laugh, the sound of the school bus delivering Cole from school, the sound of my husband scrapping the grill in preparation for dinner, an acorn falling from a tree on my run, savasana, pigeon pose, and a really good book to read to remind me why I love reading, and life, and books, and trees.
The mess is a part of the journey. Every day I have arrived. I will cry many more tears and wonder many more thoughts. I will celebrate all the little things a long the way. Life isn’t about making dreams come true. It’s about life and trees and books. It’s about loving. And that is something I’m good at thanks to saying yes when I should have said no and the baby that followed a year later.
6 thoughts on “Life. And Books. And Trees.”
I remember that plane ride and I also remember another plane ride where we talked about Greenpeace! Those dreams are still alive in you and when the time is right you will make them come true…and maybe in a way you didn’t even know you were dreaming about! Right now your doing an amazing job at being a wife and Mom and the job…while it isn’t “the one” it has a whole lot of positive about it…I think your plate is pretty full! I love you and that girl with the dreams tucked inside!
What a wonderful, personal, thoughtful piece on the course your life has taken. Thank you for sharing it. It reminded me of my own twisting, turning journey, that has taken me places I couldn’t have imagined held joy, and yet they did.
Yes! That is it exactly! I’m always amazed that the path always leads to joy. So I’m trusting and following all the twists and turns and ending my day with a smile on my face.
I have this book in my queue to read, and now I am itching to start. You write of a tale that I think many women struggle with (and you write of it so beautifully). Thanks for sharing that I am not alone in this struggle of where to be. And what a wonderful reminder that our dreams are not to be delivered, but WORKED TOWARD. That we can make them come true with our own hard work and dedication. Once again, your insight is not lost on me. Thanks for helping keep my soul searching.