By Libby Williams
I sat there silently settling my mind. I wiggle. I stretch my neck, first to the left then to the right. I take a few deep breaths. Then it’s time to settle in. My legs are clumsily crossed in front of me - like 2 giant logs that were never meant to intertwine with one another. My heart sinks a little. Judgement has already crept in.
I never resembled that person. You know the one - the enlightened one. The one that can fold herself up into a perfect shape that for some reason makes me think that the smaller she can fold herself the closer to God she must be. They always seem to be one breath away from peace and calm. I am not her. I am me. Or at least, I am looking for the me that’s hiding under all these layers of wine, cheese, single motherhood and loss.
I am at home now. Curled up in front of my make-shift meditation alter with a statue of Ganesh and a photo of my boy half his life ago. He is joyful and sweet and his cheeks are chubby. We were on the beach that day and the sun was as bright and clear as his smile and giggles that spilled over the beach and into my heart forever. For some reason, it’s one of the clearest memories I have. It makes my heart swell with love and my eyes well up with tears of loss and frustration that time continues to slip away from me so quickly.
I show up here every day to work on myself - through breath and meditation and yoga and all of the things I need. Each day is a little better and a little easier than the previous one. I am pulling myself out of a long, dark time. Fifteen years of hurt and fear and heartbreak. Fifteen years of love and loss. Fifteen years of crisis management. I held my parents hands as they took their last breaths - only a year apart from each other. I swaddled a new baby, raising him virtually alone in this big, confusing world. I lost a sister far too early. I lost a true love. In a word, I lost me.
So the past few years, I have been making my way back to me…back to the path to myself. It’s like stepping off a hiking trail deep in the forest and falling down a never ending cliff. Battered and bruised with the wind knocked out of me, I looked up suddenly to find I was lost in a deep ravine. Unchartered territory. I have had to figure it out the way out of this ravine my own. So everyday, I climbed. I searched. I wandered. I just moved in a direction. I got out of there.
So here I am today. Still showing up. Still climbing out.
I sit in silence. Heavy silence. Eyes closed. Breathing deep and steady. My mind can’t settle on anything. I have things to do and deadlines to meet. I am anxious. So I settle in my meditation space and think about gratitude. I think how grateful I am to be here now, sitting cross legged on my bedroom floor. I am grateful for this beautiful day. I am grateful for this beautiful light as the day begins, orangey and creamy. And air. And love. And a roof over my head that almost wasn’t.
And in this moment, I cry. I cry at the thought of what it means to be grateful.to have the things you need and love the things that are. I cry because I miss my parents. I miss my sister. I miss my baby who is now a teenager and slipping away so fast I lose my breath at the thought of it. I cry because I feel unworthy of even feeling grateful. Because I am not enough. I am never enough.
My eyes opened and I gulped air into my lungs for a minute. And then I sat looking at the tree across the street. It’s branches were so long and lovely and bare in this winter sunshine. It was so strong and steady. And in that moment, I realized something. I realized that the thing about gratitude was that it wasn’t special. Gratitude isn’t boastful. It’s there for all of us. It’s there for the taking. It’s in the air we breath and the sunlight on the branches of a new day. It doesn’t hide behind money or possession or things. It’s there for the taking for all of us. It’s everywhere we need it to be and everywhere we don’t want it to be.
I take a deep breath. I smile. I walk to my work station and get ready for my day. I see the flowers bending gracefully on my dining room table and think to myself, “Yes. I am grateful for you, Libby. I am grateful for you.”