Recently, as I was taking one of my long and meandering beach walks, I found myself enshrouded in fog, and sooner than anticipated – darkness. As usual, I was barefoot (my favorite state of being, although not with the “and pregnant” part attached).
As I headed back in the direction of my car, toe-deep in the Atlantic, with neither an actual flashlight or newly downloaded iPhone “flashlight app” to assist in my navigation, I came upon what appeared in gray evening shadows to be a minefield of beach rocks, stretching on endlessly. And I said aloud to my naked feet, “Ouch. This is going to hurt. How did I get us into this predicament?”
When I’d arrived at sunset, I’d circumvented the large expanses of rocks that littered the beach. But now here I was in the darkness, up against a sea of stone, with no apparent way out. But as I began to walk, I noticed that what once appeared to be a solid mass of rocks wasn’t; the spaces of soft sand in between were more abundant and frequent than they looked from a distance. And in the gray light of a non-existent moon, I realized that if I focused on each footstep, I would reach my destination.
And what seemed at first to be an impossible task, wasn’t. And as I kept my attention on the present moment rather than on the thousands of cold, hard obstacles that lay between myself and my automobile, I realized the “obstacle” was an illusion.
And it struck me that in life, we fall prey to the same thing, but on a larger scale. When we are dealt a tough hand, when we peer into the future, it often appears daunting, even impossible. We wonder how we’ll make it. We wonder how we’ll survive. And sometimes, we want to give up.
Eleven days after my foggy and enlightening beach walk, I accomplished a huge goal: I penned the final words to my first book, “The Irreverent Widow.” All 12, tweaked chapters were sent off into the ether, to my editor, 3,000 miles away. My love, my tears, my laughter, my lessons. It was not merely the culmination of much hard work, but the end of a chapter of my life. My widowhood chapter.
I’d set a goal for myself: to have this first book completed and off to my editor before my October birthday.
And so, four days before my self-imposed deadline, I’d done it.
This made me smile, and do a little (OK, big!) happy dance. It also made me weep. Because when you actually keep your promises to yourself – when you make your dreams a reality – it can be overwhelming.
A celebration was in order, and shortly after hitting “send” on my MacBook and launching all 70,271 words into cyberspace, I was en route to meet with a friend. Walking back into my kitchen two hours later, I was greeted by a glum-looking Harold and Charles, who spewed forth the news that the Apple computer legend, Steve Jobs, had died.
Now, it’s not as if we were really tight with Steve. He didn’t pop in for dinner when he was on the East Coast. But it somehow felt that way. Maybe it was the fact that, like Drew, he had died of pancreatic cancer. Maybe it was that every word I’d written since being widowed had been on an Apple. Maybe it’s because they were both too young. Too full of creativity. Too full of life to have left this earth.
All I know is, tears filled my eyes.
The realization that I’d finished my book on the same day that the man who was the genius behind the computer upon which I’d typed every single word had breathed his last breath filled me with a knowing. That we are all connected. Intertwined.
And like my walk on that stony beach, our path toward our future isn’t as impossible as it may sometimes appear. And if we look for the sand in between the stones, and take one small step at a time, we can reach our destiny.
No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at irreverentwidow.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.