Life Rhythms – Part 2

After I wrote my post, Life Rhythms last week, I spent some time talking to my friend Joan about the concept.  Turns out that the rhythm of her own life has changed in a big way recently, so we sat on the patio overlooking the Thames River and discussed the matter in depth.

Most days we can count on a particular routine to get us through the day.  We get up in the morning, exercise or have breakfast, get the kids off to school, and go to work.  At the end of the day, we pick up the kids, take them to their lessons, make dinner, get them ready for bed, maybe watch a little TV and go to bed.  Or something like it.

But when a crisis hits like a family illness, divorce, or someone comes to visit, our days are thrown out of kilter.  Priorities change rapidly.  All of a sudden we don’t have time for what we once considered, mundane tasks. Our emotions are all over the place, and we find ourselves longing for, and working towards, recapturing the once normal, rhythm of our days.

When our life rhythm is out of whack it leaves us feeling vulnerable, sometimes we even feel anonymous and become a victim to our altered circumstances.  We struggle in vain to gain our footing, or the familiar rhythm of our days but instead find that the water is over our heads and we’re tired and want to give up.  That’s when we need to accept that some things that can’t be changed, at least not in this particular moment – maybe never.

When my mother-in-law died a few years back, the rhythm of my life changed in a big way.  She was the centre of our family for over thirty years.  I could always count on her to be there.  When she died our family drifted apart even while I tried to hold on to what was lost.  It took me a long time to accept that things change and unless I learned move forward I would forever be a victim to the past.  So I decided to be grateful for the times we had together and move on.  I learned to create some new holiday traditions for our little family that included my husband and children.  Then as time went on we began to include dear friends as part of our family circle.  For you see, their lives are changing too. And as it turned out they enjoyed being a part of our new family dynamic and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I think what I experienced when my mother-in-law died was a rite of passage.  My place in the world shifted.  I didn’t know where I fit any more.  I felt vulnerable and lost, longing to be a part of something again.  I didn’t just grieve for the death of a loved one, I was also grieving for a way of life (life rhythm) that was gone forever.  I went through a period of denial as I fought to hold on to my old life.  Then I realized that nothing could bring back what was lost.  I was going to have to open my eyes to new possibilities and create a new life rhythm.

You see the foundation of our life is like a tapestry woven together out of the elements of our days, character, friendship, family, life-style, even the type of books we choose to read.  It’s something that we count on to always be there for us.  But when the tapestry unravels due to an unforeseen circumstance, we lose our place in the scheme of things.  Sometimes it may be necessary to card out the bad parts in the tapestry and weave in new threads to make it strong again.  During the re-weaving we may feel like we’re in a half-rhythm, or survival mode.  Part of our days look and seem normal as we are forced, by necessity, to carry on with everyday tasks, even while there is an undercurrent of change or transition from one life rhythm to the next.  During this time of “half-rhythm”, you may feel uncomfortable, but know this:  Something good is happening in this time of uncertainty.  It may be an uneasy rhythm, but it is a rhythm.  And it is only temporary.  You may not get your old life rhythm back, but you just may create something even better.

NOTE:  Thanks once again to Joan for being my sounding board and for offering your own unique perspective on Life Rhythms.

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