Let’s be still

I was probably all of six years old, crying, as my mother packed her suitcase. She was going to her uncle’s funeral and leaving me home for a few days. I cried and begged to go, not so much because the funeral interested me but because I wanted my mother. I wanted permanence. Her presence, like a rock, always there.

I held on to a soooooo-over relationship in my twenties, one that didn’t really even make me happy anymore. Not so much because I couldn’t live without this man (obviously I could, I’m still kicking) but because I had engraved in my mind that he was IT. And I wanted the permanence of his presence, of that surety.

I watch friends hold on to marriages because of this same longing for something that lasts. Doesn’t matter if he drinks, does drugs, loses the family savings, kills her with his sarcasm and selfishness—she’ll be damned if she’ll go back on that promise. She wants permanence.

Well who doesn’t?

Even the daredevils, the change mongers, want some root that grounds them. Something unflinching, unchangeable and impermeable to the fickleness of human nature.

Wooden dock with chairs on calm fall lakeAnd yet, the universe shows us permanence is a boondoggle. As I run through the woods, I see the fallen tree, ancient and huge, decaying and turning back to the earth. I see the remains of some poor small animal the coyote bested. I attend funerals for fathers and sons and mothers and best friends—some taken long before anyone was willing to let them go.

I remember willing myself to remember every detail of my father’s profile as he lay dying. I play his voice back in my head far too often so I don’t lose the sound of it. And yet, even just two years after his death, I’ve lost bits here and there.

I take in the little-boy smell every time I hug my youngest. But it’s fading. And his propensity for accepting motherly hugs will too—at least for a while.

As my oldest gets ready to leave a beautiful, nurturing school that has been his home away from home for the past five years, I think we both cling to its bubble. Every time I hear, Let’s Be Still, I think of his thoughts at graduation. And I tear up. I wish I could freeze time for him so he could return to this safe place years from now. But I can’t.

When we hold tightly, thinking we can keep the moment, the person, the thing—many times we just drag the whole lot through unnecessary pain, pain greater than that the initial letting go would have caused.

Change and failure are the universe’s gentle ways of saying, “Not that way, but this.” If we listen, at first blush, it’s a gentle whisper. But those of us stuck on permanence might end up with the one-two punch. If whispers don’t work, don’t put it past your Creator to turn up the volume.

So, for today, I promise myself to be in the moment. To know that moment is fleeting and ever-changing. And to learn to accept that universal truth with grace, if not love.

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166 Comments Add yours

  1. OkwyDavis says:

    Great article. It is rewarding to be still.

  2. Jaime Silk - Mental Health & Wellness Therapist says:

    This photo is just gorgeous!

  3. I lost my father three years ago and find myself doing the same thing. Even when a Johnny Cash song comes on, I will wish that the song could go on forever just so that I can still feel close to him and hang on to the memory a little bit longer. I’ve been working on living in the moment and accepting things as they come too. I’m glad to know I’m not alone! Great post 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on poetic single mama and commented:
    Maybe this explains why people hold on long after they shouldn’t. They desire that sense of permanence, even though nothing really lasts forever.

  5. adarawrites says:

    Wonderful. It’s like, you write feeling the pulse… Loved it.

  6. Reblogged this on A Musing Author and commented:
    ( I’d only like to add this: Marriage is much more than a longing for security and permanence. It’s nothing so fleeting and deceptive–only it’s beginning to become that.

    What I’m about to say is something that a lot of people don’t believe. It’s a very controversial statement and a lot of people are going to hate me for saying it. But it’s something I do believe needs to be said.

    Marriage is important.

    The seasons pass away, and the world around us “changes and fails,” and our lives undergo alterations. We become different people. But through it all, day after day, season after season, the sun still shines, the moon is still there. Summer or winter, there is still day, there is still night. There will be clouds that cover the light–but the light is still there.

    That’s what marriage is really about. It’s the permanence amidst change. You are the one constant in your own life; the person you marry should be the person you can rely on as that second constant. You can’t choose who you love, but it’s your choice who you marry. That person should be your sun and your moon.

    The words “through sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for as long as we both shall live, till death do we part,” still matter. There’s a gravity in those words, and they shouldn’t be spoken unless you mean them. Your spouse should be someone you can rely on, and someone who can look to you as their sun and moon.

    Marrying someone you can’t trust, no matter how much you may love them, is asking for your tree, “ancient and huge,” to fall and decay. Don’t look for permanence where it can’t be found. Don’t pretend it’s there when it’s not. Be still. Wait for it.

    That said, this is a beautiful article well worth reading. )

    1. candidkay says:

      Beautifully said, Caleb. I do think you need to allow for change. You can trust someone worthy of it and forces beyond you, bigger than them, can change that worthiness. The people who’ve been through it will mid and say, “Aha, yes.” And we will keep quiet about the details. Those who have not may, unwittingly, oversimplify. Thank you for the kind words and the reblog .

  7. suchled says:

    It’s so nice to meet such lovely people this way. Thank you and we don’t have lakes like that here, down under.

  8. speakingwins says:

    Beautifully expressed. For some reason, though, it made me think of many things we don’t want to be permanent – the taste-bud-destroying headcold, the endless week of grey skies and rain, the term of the corrupt politician, and the list goes on. For these, the lack of permanence gives us hope and relief.

  9. Heartafire says:

    Reblogged this on Heartafire and commented:
    There is only here and now, a reminder from candidkay.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog!

  10. Heartafire says:

    there is only here and now…a lovely post!

  11. Heartafire says:

    there is only here and now…a lovely post!

  12. Thank you! This is a lovely take on ‘holding lightly’. A lesson I have to learn over and over as I too am one who holds too tight.

  13. this is a lovely piece. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for reading, Karen, and for the kind words.

  14. A beautiful memory should be the end result of our longing for permanence and the impetus to anticipate the next fleeting permanence (and season) in our lives.

  15. beegracias says:

    Reblogged this on beegracias and commented:
    The point is, its so hard making the decision either to let go or hold on a little more, perhaps something good can still happen.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for the reblog!

  16. stevenwallace92 says:

    Your ability to write about the emotions that everyone feels, in a way that everyone can associate with is terrific. Thank you for putting things into perspective

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so very much–one of the nicest things you can say to a writer. Glad you stopped by:).

  17. zeelovesyou says:

    Awww! This is awesome!

  18. Wow, this is quite a touching post.

  19. Mary says:

    this. is utterly. fantastic. a deep breath of words.

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