Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jane's two arms

Jane read something the other day. It stuck in her mind, replayed throughout the week and now here it is getting blog time. Obviously this has significance to her.

God gave us two arms. It's up to us to decide whether to cling to the past or embrace the future.

Many times we don't even think about this. Our actions and reactions are instinctive and we move along almost (almost, mind you) effortlessly. Clinging to the past or embracing the future isn't something we even consider because we're just doing it, you know? We're going on with the business of life.

But after a great biggie bump in the road, what do we do with those arms? Sometimes we wrap them so tightly around ourselves that we create a very solid suit of armor. Sometimes we refuse to face forward and reach with determination back into what was, the familiar that we still want to embrace. Because if we actually turn around and confront the unknown future, we might have to let go of the past. Or forever remain twisted up in an attempt to do both.

Jane understands the need to do that for a bit. After all, it's challenging if not completely impossible to bounce up and race forward with a grin on our faces and our arms outstretched. Gimme some future! I'm ready! So a certain amount of clinging to the past is natural. Maybe it even provides a recovery buffer.

Until it doesn't. The tricky part is realizing when that happens and accepting it and releasing our grasp on the past and turning around and reaching out for whatever might come. For the totality of possibilities. Sometimes we don't even realize we're doing the clinging. Sometimes it's so very apparent to everyone but us and when we finally join in on the collective realization we can hear the huge sigh of relief from all our friends and family.

Clinging to the past feels secure because it's what we know. Embracing the future feels like a great big butterfly in our stomachs. It's so very tempting to keep clinging. But Jane knew right from the start that she did not want to miss out on the great and delicious wonders the future would bring. After her grieving time, after she relaxed her arms and shifted her stance and peered cautiously over her shoulder at...gulp...the future, she knew what she was going to do. She knew she would take the first tentative step, and then the next, until she was turned towards the road leading to the unknown. And she would extend her arms, not to shield herself but to embrace the wonderful, exciting future.

The past? Jane wishes she never had to let it go. But in a way, she doesn't. It's part of her, those experiences, part of what makes her Jane. What makes her smile, what makes her think, what makes her strong. Knowing that, Jane can step along the new road with the comfort of bringing the best part of her past with her.

That gives her the confidence and the power to open her embrace even more.

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