The author Tim Robbins calls Valentine’s Day the only bubble in the flat champagne of February, and I think that is so fitting. This time of year is always hard for me, its the dreary lull after the joy of the holidays and the hurdle we must cross before the warm relief of spring. It is the middle land, the gray and frigid and least sparkly month of the year. In many ways, February reflects something to us that is scary – which is, sometimes life isn’t glittery and fabulous. Sometimes it is crap, actually. We really don’t want that to be true, and many of us put a lot of energy into avoiding it – we are always fine.
I think one of the most dangerous side-effects of our human will is that if we tried hard enough, we theoretically could go through our entire lives without ever really dipping under the surface of things. There is a chance we might go the whole journey always seeing the top of the sea and assuming that was all there ever was to it. But those of us who dare to dive know differently. We know there is a mind-blowing abundance of life and color and adventure to be had in the deep. Diving requires courage, doesn’t it? Jumping into something that is quite literally “over your head” means in many ways you must rely on others to help you through it.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. It’s too cold to be outside much, so I’ve been huddled up inside with time to snuggle my little ones, to read and think and dive deep. In the quiet edges of my days there are curious thoughts bubbling up – memories and experiences that have surprised me, confused me, knocked me off my feet, challenged me and inspired me. I’ve noticed how naturally I embrace the good things that come but how awkward its been for me to try and get my arms around the hard stuff too. I wonder if I am not alone in this, if maybe it is this way sometimes for you too?
I am in a February season, smack in the middle of the midwest in the middle of winter. We are cooped up and a bit wild-eyed – hungry for the chance to slip our bare feet onto warm spring grass again. I feel this in my bones, because my whole self is ready for warmth and sun again. But I feel it in my spirit also. In the same way my fingers ache in the cold air, there are places within my heart that ache. I am ready for relief, the kind of relief that comes after you’ve wrestled with some hard thing and followed its twisty trail all the way to it’s root. Most hard things are rooted in pain, and pain is just our soul’s way of making us pay attention. Once we decide that there must be more going on under the surface, we can jump into our story to discover the source of the pain. And once we see it and validate it, it can stop shouting at us. When that root is found out, we can dig it up, we can see it and honor that it exists, we can pay attention to what its trying to tell us, and then decide if we want to keep it there or remove it.
This is the work of healing. The map to health and peace. The pain is scary because we aren’t sure we can handle what it’s trying to tell us. We say, “I’ll do that work when I have the time, when I have the capacity, when I can afford therapy or whatever..” but the longer we wait to see it, the louder it will get, like an unruly toddler who throws herself on the floor in the middle of Target. It will be seen, one way or another. So I guess if that is the way it goes, it’s better to be brave, to take a step closer to the edge, to tug our lifelines (our trusted community), take a big breath and jump in. I am a firm believer in our human ability to “go there” – we are made for the deep work. Relief is coming, of course, and we will not be in the middle forever. It’s only part of the story. A necessary part, because you simply can’t have a beginning and an ending without a middle, right? If you are in a middle season as well, I want you to know that I believe you have what it takes and I know you will make it through to the other side, where the champagne is bursting and the golden sunshine is waiting. Keep going, keep diving, keep coming up for air when you need to, and keep pursuing the peace that you are absolutely worthy of.