Part of this post is from a previous post from 2010, but it really does describe some of my struggles today.
Monday morning… spent most of the weekend “offline.” It wasn’t hard to be offline, since it was a busy weekend with family and friend. We had our 2 1/2 year old niece overnight- she was delightful and who needs to be online when you have constant entertainment. With our kids being 20 and up, we loved the reminder of innocence and awe. yesterday was a total 180, with the afternoon spent at a winery with dear friends… no responsibilities with grown kids- just a leisurely day in the county. What a contrast. Two radically different days.
Then this morning, when I do log onto facebook, I see this quote from my dear friend Rebecca Brittle Life…”you live it forward, but understand it backward.” A quote from the book Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese.
First of all, that is alot to think about for a Monday morning, so I know that I will revisit it again later in the week, but I couldn’t let it pass in light of our weekend. While our niece was here, we just enjoyed her… chores went undone, the schedule was cleared, it was all about her… playing, laughing and enjoying. So very different from when my 3 kids were 2 years old and there was so much to be done. Always a “to do” list, responsibilities galore and as we sat on the floor and laughed, I wished that I had done more of that when my kids were little. Don’t get me wrong… I did play with them, laugh with them and enjoy them… alot… but often with the “guilt” of the undone “to-do’s” hanging over my head. What freedom I would have enjoyed if I had understood then, that some of those “to-do’s” really didn’t matter. “living forward, understanding backward” – no wonder we are full of advice and wisdom as we mature!
In fact, while we had our niece, my sister texted me, “ahhh… sushi, wine, no kids! thx” and I realized that this respite for her described our life now. We are thoroughly enjoying our “empty nest.” On Sunday, we had the most leisurely afternoon, without a care in the world, because our schedule is flexible and our to do list is much shorter, as well as we have learned to let alot go. Which brings be to my second point, “we understand it backwards” speaks to the insights we have when it seems too late to apply said insight. In a recent coaching conversation, we discussed investing time in self care, and I reflected that I wish I had paid more attention to the words and advice I had gotten when I was younger, because now I was “understanding it backwards.” Is this a chronic cycle, never to be broken, or can we learn from others experience, be teachable and apply the lesson, or must we always learn by our own experience?
Reflecting on this quote today, my mind battles with the applications of these words…
Understanding it backwards can lead to regret, which i am battling with right now or action .. .which I am seeking to embrace, one faulty step at a time.
regret can paralyze me, swallow me in shame, tempt me to hide and thus i end up wasting more time, and gaining little understanding.
understanding it backwards can lead to action.
…awareness, growth and a renewed sense of purpose. grace for the past and even more grace for the present.
that is what i need just now… grace.
grace… to allow the understanding i am gaining to awaken me and lead me to the next step, unmired by regret, embolden by possibility. it is a hard choice to allow be gracious to ourselves… we tend to belittle and berate ourselves for shortcomings. I am the queen of this at times. But what if understanding it backward brought freedom, action and new growth….
that feels light, exciting and hopeful…
can you relate?