‘If I explore the heavens or if I search inside, well, it really doesn’t matter as long as I can tell myself I’ve always tried. Like a roller in the ocean life is motion, move on. Like a wind that’s always blowing, life is flowing, move on…’ – Move On by ABBA
There is great power and reassurance in looking back at our life and connecting all the threads – the events, people, circumstances, interests – that were woven together to form a strong, lacy mesh; a mesh which later served as a safety net when we fell through darkness with only trust and our bid for a whole, honest life to hold on to.
A decade ago I belted out Move On each and every time I drove anywhere. It made me happy in a profound way. Tears tingled beneath my lids but not due to sadness. I was hearing the whispers of a destiny I had no idea awaited me. I felt connected to something I was only just beginning to recognize and it was, unbeknownst to me, a subconscious programming; part of a powerful, massive roller in the ocean pushing me toward making a break some years later for authenticity and truth.
Quite an achievement for an ABBA song.
Nothing, nothing is insignificant.
At times when we feel insignificant but still try, still reach for what can be an elusive, unclear something, we are supported in ways that, with hindsight, will be acknowledged for what they are – guiding forces having the benefit of looking at our life map from a much, much higher perspective and tweaking the landscape to set us up for moving on.
They will divert rivers, create rockfalls, put carnival lights up – anything to get our attention and on our right path. We are often oblivious to the earthworks and major construction required and implemented on our behalf…minor, imperceptible changes in and around us that probably required a great deal of sweat and labor Upstairs.
I will share with you my threads: the safety net created to catch and support me when I finally had no choice but to obey the urge to move on.
I was a stay-at-home Mom who worked hard and took my daily chores and the parenting and loving of my two adorable children seriously. I gave it my all.
I was also very much alone, having left a religious community and its fringe benefits (without resentment, bitterness or drama – it simply felt like a suit that no longer fitted me or my mutating spirituality and understanding). I was struggling to find women I could connect with in a stimulating, meaningful way.
The first thread was my husband’s suggestion that I attend a writing workshop to explore one of my creative outlets. There, for the first time in a very long time, I became aware of an aspect of myself that was seen and appreciated by others. I was astounded by the response to my writing and the workshops opened the door to a room packed to the brim with diverse and delightful women writers.
The second thread was the phenomenal playgroup my children attended three times a week for three hours from when they were three years old. Gita accepted only ten children a year (or was it twelve?…I can’t remember anymore). From this little group it transpired that at least two of the Mom’s were also attending the monthly writing workshops I now frequented, but on a different day.
One of these woman, Ilze, became a close, dear friend – she had no choice really. Not only were our children attending the same playgroup and becoming firm friends, and both of us in the Women’s Writing Workshops’ group: I was also invited by the editor of our workshop writings, Maire, to join her book club; and guess who was already a member? Yup. Ilze.
So there I sat in the midst of the third thread – a refreshing book club attended by yet another small group of breathtakingly accomplished women with illustrious qualifications behind their names and enviable career paths. I had only my pleasant personality and smile to recommend me but that seldom bothered me and never bothered them – they were the most loving, honest, unpretentious, inspirational and hilarious group of women I had ever met. It was thus ensured that I made new, loyal friends.
Of the playgroup moms there were two other women who impacted me in significant ways.
Charisse introduced me to three things: peanut butter-marmite-and-cucumber sandwiches, the pre- and primary school my boys would attend and clutch/accelerator control.
Charisse said ‘You must get your driver’s licence’ and put effort into coaching me through my first jerking, stalling attempts.
I was in my late 30’s and still carried my sleeping three-year old in his pram up and down the stairs to cross the railway line at the station to catch the train to fetch his older brother from preschool. My five-year old son and I knew what it meant to walk everywhere, sometimes in driving rain or heat and wild winds. My youngest had an affinity for his pram, on-the-go snacks and quick snoozes. It took a lot out of me and my day but I never viewed the routine through a pitying lens…walking and talking and experiencing life at ground level has its own gifts and merits. However, learning to drive (which I did) proved vital not only for the ease and comfort it brought but also the possibilities it ushered in…
Jo was a soft-spoken playgroup Mom (I thought I was going to have to get a hearing aid for our conversations – I am a bit deaf) who taught me (and still does) so much about generosity, acceptance and penetrating questions. I didn’t see her often enough but that didn’t stop her from doing one of the most astonishing, practical, selfless deeds when a charming and fabulously funny mutual friend, Daisy, mentioned a predicament I faced…
This threading recollection is quite long enough, yet I’ve barely moved beyond the center of the mesh.
I started writing this post thinking it would be easy. Not so, I now see. It’s far more complicated, intricate and expansive than I anticipated; it’s weaving itself into ever wider, intriguing and overlapping formations.
I hope your patience is longer than my installments. I will intersperse the episodes with less taxing posts.
It must be done…predominantly to honor all the threads – friends, family, acquaintances – and their respective roles in my all too common journey. I also wish for it to speak to women and men who find themselves on a similar map, and like me, without a compass or knowledge of the landscape.
Thank you for sitting beside me while I spin the tale.