A new life

Last year, my life fell apart. Or exploded. It was all up in the air for a while, anyway, and I didn’t know where it would come down.

It was a good opportunity to try to practice inner peace, because there wasn’t much of it outwardly. I realized that this is the only security we can hope for: the ability to hold onto ourselves while the world goes crazy around us.

So I waited, and watched, and tried not to panic, and certain things began to fall into place. My marriage, which had appeared to be dead, came back to life. Somehow a complete break was what we needed in order to come back together.

When making that break, I certainly had no idea that such a reconciliation might be the result. I simply knew that it had to be done. I was reminded of the inexorable pull of labor, of the narrow gate one goes through in giving birth as well as in being born. Painful it may be, but there is simply no other way. One must give in to necessity before new life can open up.

Opening the Gate – Nicholas Roerich, 1922

When things settled, and I began to find trust in the new reality, there were some choices to be made. After a period of readjustment, my husband got a job in Switzerland (his native country). Should he take it, should we really move abroad? Or should we look longer for something else? What would I do there, in a country not my own? Was this really the best thing for our family?

It’s impossible to tell for sure. Again, there is no security except in trusting one’s ability to meet whatever may come in life, to take the consequences of one’s actions, right or wrong. But it seemed again that this was the way we had to go, and that we would find out where the path led as we went.

The Castle Gate – Friedrich Kallmorgen, 1906

He’s leaving this week, and I plan to visit with our son in April, then move there in July. In the meantime I’m still carrying on in the job we formerly did together, running a household caring for adults with special needs. At first doing this alone was so difficult that I thought I could not bear it, but I’m finding strength and capacities I did not know I had, learning something new every day, and receiving more help than I ever thought possible.

That’s not to say I won’t be glad to put down this load when the time comes. But more and more I think we cannot live by predicting goals for the future and trying to make them happen, by deciding this or that will have a good or bad result, by pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. Too often, what I thought would be a great decision has turned out to be terrible, and vice versa.

I think often about Ursula K. Le Guin’s words in The Farthest Shore:

If there were a king over us all again and he sought counsel of a mage, as in the days of old, and I were that mage, I would say to him: My lord, do nothing because it is righteous or praiseworthy or noble to do so; do nothing because it seems good to do so; do only that which you must do and which you cannot do in any other way.

So I enter this new life, looking to discover what it is that must be done, and what lies on the other side of the door.

Where has the path of necessity led you? What narrow gates have you gone through into a new life?

The Temple Door at Abu Simbel – Henry Roderick Newman, 1900

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