I just re-read one of my favorite novels, The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. One passage stuck with me and I haven't been able to get it off my mind. There is a scene where a woman asks the main character, Miles, how we know when we’re moving forward. Not understanding the way people always use the word "forward," Miles responds to the woman saying, “Crabs move sideways. They don’t worry about going forward or backward.”
Something about reading that simple passage really hit me. I don't remember it from the first time I read the book, but this time it stood out. So I've been thinking about what it means to me right now in my life.
As the kids have left for college, sideways movement sounds appealing. All those years raising them required a lot of forward movement-- sometimes even fast forward. There was always something to get done. And it wasn't only my own agenda moving me ahead. While teaching the kids about accomplishing and achieving I often held their hands to guide them forward. Whether it was homework, getting them to practices and appointments, or just helping them with life lessons, I was often caught up in their movement. Sometimes all that going forward generated such momentum that it just took over, and it was easy to miss some of the beauty around me- the plumerias blooming in the backyard, the full moon looking down on me, and even that great guy I married over twenty years ago.
Now that the kids are off to college and I'm not holding their hands anymore, I'm adjusting and finding my own movement and pace. I still have goals set ahead of me, but they're not as constant or consuming. There's no denying I miss the kids like crazy and I even miss some of the hectic schedules that kept them close to me, but I am finding a new sense of peace in this next phase. I get to go sideways more often these days. Instead of always working in the garden to clean things up, some days I can be found just sitting in it and enjoying it. I've noticed how tall the palm trees have grown since we planted them when the kids were little. Instead of constantly moving forward to some destination on my busy schedule, I've been seen these last few weeks moving sideways to the neighbor's house, just to chat. And yesterday when my husband and I were walking along the beach, there was yet another sideways movement I notice I've been making more lately. As we walked, I moved sideways, leaning in closer to him, so that my arm was touching his arm. Now that it's just the two of us again, there's less urgency to always get somewhere, and more time and space to get closer.
The warm sun on my skin, the sand beneath my feet, the soothing sound of waves, and the comfort of my husband by my side, I couldn't help but notice all the beauty around me.