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.

166 Comments Add yours

  1. nice and beautiful moments, and thats what happend in our lifes.

  2. Great post!!! Thank You

  3. jackiep34 says:

    What lovely and touching words. I have only one son, and it is so hard to watch him grow. So hard to think he will one day leave me. He taught me how to cherish the ones we love because no human is permanent.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s hard to accept our children are lent to us. I know that feeling well!

  4. Exquisitely written. Captures perfectly something I’ve been struggling to say.

  5. Incredibly moving, poignant.

  6. Holding tight to love feels natural while letting love go and grow does not .Very well written piece

  7. What a lovely reminder for me to live in the moment. I am the mother of two young children. My days feel like marathons where my endurance and strength is tested. I want permanence with my husband but am all to ready to see certain phases pass. It is hard to be present when the present is so hard. Tonight I will kiss my babies and just remember that all too soon all of this will pass and I will long for the simple days of gummy smiles and bedtime stories.

    1. candidkay says:

      I remember those days. Where you’d be happy just to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep or an uninterrupted conversation. But the cliche holds true. They pass too quickly.

  8. Archita says:

    What a beautiful post. Glad you got ‘pressed and found your post easily. Time freezes, flies, evaporates soon; living in the moment is the best solution even though it’s so difficult at times. Your post was a great reminder. Thank you so much for writing it.

  9. Marie says:

    Holding on and letting go, presence and impermanence in a tender post from a wise soul. Beautiful, Kay!

  10. alonemoments says:

    I love the mention of freezing time so your son can have a safe place to return. It could be the most important thing you give him besides love. That’s something I did not have growing up but try so desperately to provide for my children. Without scaring them to death as to why “our home” is safe. But its not safe everywhere.

  11. What a beautiful scene!

  12. lorig263 says:

    Awesome words

  13. Came for the photo, stayed for the prose. Thank you for both!

    1. candidkay says:

      Glad you stayed. Thanks for visiting.

  14. lgracew777 says:

    WOW! This is beautiful! I became totally relaxed and at peace simply by looking at this photograph. WOW! Peace Be Still!

  15. obzervashunal says:

    …I’ve always loved the word, ‘boondoggle’. Just couldn’t figure out how to get it into a sentence slickly enough. Thanks for the post and the word usage!

  16. ij731 says:

    How profound! Love it 🙂

  17. Amlakyaran says:

    very nice post … thanks

  18. Jan Wilberg says:

    Of course, you are so right and yet there are times when refusing to let go can be wise, even though conditions and misery would seem not to support such a decision. This is so beautifully written. I loved it. I saw your picture and thought, hey, I know candidkay!

    1. candidkay says:

      Wise words, Jan:). Thanks for reading . . .

  19. toishma says:

    So profoundly true…..in our day of rush and fast food. ..its time to be still!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks so much for the reblog–and for reading!

      1. lynshaiza says:

        You’re welcome, it’s My pleasure to come across and reblog such beautiful post:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so very much! I truly appreciate the reblog and you reading.

      1. Amitiel says:

        Thanks for posting such a wonderful reminder to such an important life lesson.

  20. Such a wonderful post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed… it happened to me yesterday. Such a great feeling, eh?

    I think everyone goes through these emotions, of only just once in their lives. I don’t think one can be a complete person, or claim to have lived life to its fullest if they haven’t had their heart broken at least once, or felt the loneliness you described in your opening paragraph.

    Your writing is superb and I’m really glad I clicked on the link.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so very much for the kind words and for reading. I will have to check out your Freshly Pressed piece–congrats! And so true–if we don’t let the dark and the light in, we’re not truly made strong, are we?

  21. herunveiling says:

    This so reminds me of one of my ramblings

    And you who is named Change will change nature because change is nature. And in changing, nature thrives and all life is made alive by the fallen and the buried. In nature nothing is wasted and so in life, man must waste nothing!


  22. So beautifully put. Thank you for reminding me to remember the voices of those I’ve loved and are no longer living. My mother died ten years ago this month and if anything as the years have elapsed I have felt her closer to her and remember obscure but potent details. I believe love is eternal.

    1. candidkay says:

      I believe the same of love. It’s about the only part of us that remains. I’m so glad you have your mother’s love still.

  23. theinnerzone says:

    AI, so needed, to hear this today! And here I am feeling the connection, teary eyed, affirmed that this is a message carved for me. Thank you for writing such a wonderful reminder.

    1. candidkay says:

      Funny how so many of us never meet but write for each other. So glad my words touched you. Thanks for reading.

  24. qpillowcase says:

    I like the way you write

    it feels like I just read a huge poem – thanls for that 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much. When the words flow, it comes easily. And when they don’t . . . oy vey:).

  25. awax1217 says:

    Nicely put and to the point. We require the same old same old and yet we thirst for adventure. We feel comfortable in the old shoes and yet eventually we have to get a new pair.

  26. Reading posts like this makes me a better writer. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Probably one of the nicest things you could say to a fellow writer! Thank you.

  27. jlbf4 says:

    What a beautiful post with a gorgeous picture no doubt! Thank you for this. I love how you write, “And to learn to accept that universal truth with grace, if not love.” Beautiful! Much like that ever present need for us to learn to let go. Thought maybe a post I wrote would be of interest, would love your thoughts: http://everupward.org/2014/03/06/the-paradox-of-letting-go-5-things-we-continuously-hold-on-to/

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words and for your post. Two things struck me–the first, setting up the circumstances for the letting go. I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to do this well, but life seems to take care of it for me, for better or for worse. And two–“you are enough.” It is what I consistently tell my sons because it is not a message I heard growing up. Great post.

  28. Aarushi Gupta says:

    Beautiful, very inspiring 🙂

  29. I have strong emotional ties to my 20s, 40 years latter. Much of what I write comes from my 20s, co-workers in their 20s and now my girls in their 20s. It lets me let go and hang on at the same time.

  30. rikkilynn says:

    Yes, the familiar etching of a moment into ones mind, hoping that if we count the milliseconds and each frame that passes that the moment may never end. It’s funny how we never let go, until life forces us too, then we still try to manipulate it by reliving it over and over in our heads, as if maybe it never did end. ❤

  31. Kami says:

    So eloquent. I want to soak in your words until I feel better about all the change that has and will always happen. I have tried to explain this to people and always fallen short. Now I can simply refer them to this perfectly painted word picture of impermanence. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for reading, Kami. They don’t have to understand it, do they? They just have to respect it:).

  32. My favorite concept from chemistry was entropy. The thought that things inevitably tend towards disorder really enchanted me. Yet, it is so difficult to accept that in order for life to grow, first the underbrush must burn.
    Thank you for reminding me that the moment we have now does not come at expense of the things we had in the past. Instead they are the soil in which our new moments grow.

    1. candidkay says:

      What a visual–“the underbrush must burn.” Love this. Did you know that after a forest fire, ferns are one of the first plants to grow back because they have this firm, unseen, deep root system? They let go and die to the human eye, knowing they’re still alive and kicking underneath.

  33. segmation says:

    Acceptance and saying good bye is sometimes hard.

  34. Chris Edgar says:

    That is always a useful reminder. I think holding to the knowledge of impermanence definitely causes me to be a kinder person, when I remember that this is something everyone is struggling with, and also causes me to be kinder to myself, because I see that much of the striving and pushing I do is ultimately futile.

  35. What a beautifully written post! It brings to mind how the only thing that’s permanent (aside from death, taxes, and middle age weight gain) is impermanence. Change is inevitable.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for reading! I’ll fight the staying power of that middle-aged weight gain. Sigh.

  36. Let’s Be Still. How is it that I’ve never heard this glorious homage to the present? Thank you for giving me this gift. I’m glad to know there’s another spirit out there, practicing the fine art of living presently.

    1. candidkay says:

      And thank you for reading. I love that song’s simple lyrics. It’s a great Sunday morning anthem:).

  37. A touching, powerful post – a real reminder not to hold too tightly onto things that have to pass.

  38. Bill Burke says:

    That was a very beautiful and powerful piece, Kristine. Even for those of us who do tend to hang on with both hands. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Bill. Check out my Twitter feed for a tweet on letting go or being dragged:). It’s a good reminder.

  39. Children grow up so quickly and we need to stop every so often and savour the moment over and over and over. And then get up and do it again the next day.
    And when they grow up, they will remember those moments and treasure them.

  40. Reminds me of what my then, nine year old son told me the evening I found out that my father died. “Life is change. It always changes, Mom. You live, you die.” I don’t know if I have his words exactly, but it’s pretty close. Who knew that when I told this to my son, he would not only remember it, but really take it in? And he was probably eight.

  41. There is only here, there is only now. Thank you Kay for reminding us to live and love our journey through life, and to cherish the people we meet.

  42. Dan Micheli says:

    There is permanence in fundamental truths many of which are of our choosing.
    I chose twice to become a father and will forever and always be a father to them. I will always love and cherish them. They will change and so will I, what is permanent is my love for them and devotion to them. The same is true for a small group of friends and family who will always and forever be a part of my life. The degree of interaction and involvement will change but the choice to maintain that bond remains.

    1. candidkay says:

      Beautifully said, Dan. Beautifully said.

    2. It might seem like there is some permanence, but when we actually look closer we will see that the love that you had for your children yesterday is gone and so does not exist anymore, the love that you will have for you children tomorrow has not happened yet so it also does not exist, so all you have is the love for your children in this very moment. It might look permanent, but when we look closer we’ll see that love also changes in each moment.

  43. Tela says:

    what a beautiful post~

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words–and for reading. Glad they touched you.

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