Sometimes you’re the windshield;
sometimes you’re the bug….
Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger;
sometimes you’re the ball.”
—Mary Chapin Carpenter
Life has a way of smacking us down, hard, sometimes repeatedly, when we least expect it. Things can be going along smoothly, and then out of the blue: wham! You are knocked off your feet by a sudden turn of events or twist of fate. It can be a minor passing upset or a major trauma. Life doesn’t tell you ahead of time what’s coming up around the next corner. Each day can be really wonder-full or really challenging. This is how I would describe my life over the past year.
In July 2018, I moved from one part of the country to another, diving excitedly into a new adventure. Massachusetts to Florida—what could be a greater jump into exploring differences and new horizons? So, all went beautifully the first six months or so. New home, new surroundings, new friendships, new possibilities. Then gradually everything started to dissolve around me, and I began to experience emptying out, loss, closed doors, lack of possibilities. It all seemed strange and unexpected. I had been so open and optimistic, centered in a positive outlook and certain I was living my best life, stepping into even more expansion. When it all started to fall apart, I began to seriously question whether I should be in Florida at all (even though divine guidance for the move had been unmistakable).
Over the months, I tried to view each change with acceptance, continuing to trust that it was all part of my soul’s evolutionary path. Yet the challenges seemed to get bigger and the losses deeper. I felt as if I had signed up for a master class in spiritual surrender. Every time I brought myself back into balance after some unforeseen occurrence, something else would arise. Finally, one night last month, I had the wind completely knocked out of me, literally, by an actual physical smackdown.
In the middle of the night, in the dark, I tripped over a new living-room hassock and fell flat on my face, teeth first. Teeth cracking, bloody gums, pain radiating out to my jaw and head. The shock shook me to my core, and the trauma of that facedown impact stayed with me for days. I relived that split-second in tears and disbelief again and again, each time longing to rewind and erase what had happened. The next day, I could hardly move because of pain in my arms, legs, neck, and head. My brain felt dazed, my teeth ached and throbbed, and in the mirror I saw the reflection of a distraught woman with swollen, black-and-blue cheeks and haunted eyes. Inconsolable, I wanted to cancel every external-world plan I had made for the future and just curl up in a ball under the covers. Used to moving unhesitatingly through the world, I found myself instead extremely cautious when I walked down stairs or got out of the shower.
Post-traumatic fear affected my thinking as well: I suspected that the energy of Florida was kicking me out, that clearly I didn’t belong here. I also envisioned losing all my front teeth, roots included. When I did have x-rays done, it looked like the roots had not broken in spite of the strength of the impact. The dentist said I would need veneers replaced on a couple teeth and perhaps a root canal, but she wanted to see if the one loose tooth would stabilize on its own. So we are waiting to see how my mouth heals before any decision about restorative work is made. The kindness of the dentist (who took my emergency call early on a Sunday morning), as well as my partner’s, were huge factors in my gradually feeling more like myself in a few days.
Still, I kept wondering why I had to experience this particular trauma on my soul journey. What is its meaning in my life as it is now unfolding in all its complicated contradictions and direction switches? Unanswerable questions. There is a thread of ultimate meaning and connection in every event in life, but we often don’t know them at the moment of occurrence (or in this case, impact). Once again, I am being asked to trust…and continue with a faith and an inner peace that “passes all understanding.” This is the master class we all are a part of at this time on planet Earth.
The external world can look like a senseless madhouse with no possibility for hope or renewal. Yet, in the midst of that, someone reaches out a hand with kindness, and your heart opens in gratitude. Trust and love again seem possible. This is our journey now; this is our assignment. To stand back up when we have fallen and to use our pain as a way to shorten the distance between ourselves and others. Together, we humans are experiencing the birth trauma of a new consciousness, a new planet. It sometimes hurts terribly, but just look at what is on the horizon.