Today marks the unofficial end of summer.
Those of us with kids already in school saw summer come to an abrupt and unpalatable end with a blaring alarm clock and the return of homework. Of course those of us in coastal towns also know that the best beach days actually still lie ahead thanks to an inevitable Indian summer and the absence of tourist traffic.
Nonetheless there is something symbolic about Labor Day. So today we found ourselves drawn to the beach, trying to hold on to summer’s final gasp as we reveled in the post-hurricane surf.
This summer has left me with freckles and blonder hair. It has left sand in my bed and shells in my pocket. It has left me with great memories of spontaneous adventures and lazy mornings in bed. It has left me with a few extra pounds due to obscene ice cream consumption.
This summer, like the two before it, has also left me with questions, many of which I shared last week.
Truthfully, it didn’t seem that radical to me to talk about these things. But then again, I am nothing if not a talker and an emoter. Put those two things together and, well, I talk a lot about how I feel. This is nothing new for me.
But the responses I got, from strangers and friends, vocal supporters and silent readers, were staggering. And thoughtful.
So many of you shared with me your own internal struggles and the relief you felt just knowing you were not alone. And there is something to that, isn’t there? It is not just me. It is not just you. We are all questioning and answering and doubting and believing together.
But all too often, I think, we keep these fears to ourselves, afraid that giving them a voice conveys…weakness. That admitting we don’t have all the answers is some Herculean defeat of inner fortitude.
But the truth is that giving your fears and doubts a voice is actually what gives you power over them.
The questioning, as painful as it is, just reminds us of what we think is important. And if we don’t ever wonder if what we are doing is important – for ourselves, for the people we love, for the world – then, friends, we are not thinking hard enough.
And here’s the other truth. At least I’m pretty sure it is.
We don’t have to figure all of it out at once.
All those questions that snowball into a hot mess of insecurity and doubt don’t have to be answered all together at the same moment.
We just need to take them one question at a time. One minute at a time. One conversation at a time.
I still don’t have any answers but I don’t have to. I don’t have to erase all the doubt for eternity. I just have to have faith today.
I don’t have to know whether my decisions about parenting will make my children good 30-year-olds. I just have to trust that I’m trying to put them on the right path today.
I don’t have to throw up my arms in defeat forever because of a couple of weeks of crushing negativity. I just have to figure out how to reset today.
I don’t have to dwell on the hurt that people can inflict through their words or their apathy, nor mourn the relationships that are not what they used to be. I just need to be grateful for the people who give me their love, their respect, and their presence today.
I don’t need to angst over what my legacy will be at the end of my life. I just need to try to be the best I can, do the most I can, with what I can, today.
I don’t need to decide whether I’m going to keep writing for perpetuity. I just have to decide whether or not to write today.
And today I write. Today I am grateful for what you all have given to me over the past two weeks. Today I am reminded I am not, nor have I ever been, alone in loving hard.