Earthquake of the soul

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I am terrible with endings. Equally terrible with change. The school year draws to a close, the air fills with humidity and the thick, sweet smells of spring moving into summer, and I start to cry. This isn’t even the “end of the beginning” anymore – we are well past that now. My baby is graduating from Beginners. My older child is moving out of the very youngest building at school. Sob. I am already aware of how few days are left in this school year, and I wake each morning with a tangible sense of loss hanging on the horizon of my awareness.

But this year, along with the traditional end-of-school year melancholy, there are other things ending. Our beloved nanny of 5 1/2 years, who joined us right when Whit was born, is leaving. This is her last week. I am leaving the job I’ve been at for 3 1/2 years. I will have the summer without work for the first time in 10 years. There are numerous tiny ways in which I feel like the life I know is about to shift irrevocably, and I do not have steady footing for this ride. The terrain of my life is beginning to move around, I suspect there is an earthquake coming, and I don’t know what to do to keep myself safe. Where is the doorframe, in which you are supposed to seek stability, in an earthquake of the soul?

My parents are sailors. Growing up on boats I encountered my share of those frayed, brittle lines whose protruding roughness can cut your hands. You grab them wrong and you can wind up with a sliver of fiberglass embedded in your palm. That’s how this feels right now: all of these losses, all of these endings, are wound together in a knotty rope whose power is undeniable but whose touch on my hand stings badly. I don’t even want that rope near me, but I can’t get away from it.

These changes flicker at the edges of all of my hours now, and like flames eating a piece of paper they consume them from the outside in. I don’t know how much is left in the middle, so voraciously do these endings seem to take over my thoughts, my feelings, my very life. I know intellectually that the anticipation of a change has often been worse than the reality for me, but this knowledge cannot possible compete with the roaring fear in my spirit. And so I go out into the glorious spring day, trying to keep my hands from being cut by the rope I cannot avoid, trying to keep my eyes on what is in front of me, trying to keep my heart from leaping out of my chest. It’s not simple, this part, for me.

14 thoughts on “Earthquake of the soul”

  1. Lean into the doorframes of the rock solid connection with soulmates. My psyche pulsates with the cycle of the schoolyear too, the inevitable dread/anticipation of beginning and end. But for you just now, this is more. The nanny, the job — those do offer shifts of a major sort, ones that should be grieved well even as you welcome a new era. Hang on and ride the waves, you’ll find your sea legs soon.

  2. It’s funny. Usually I’m the opposite… I love change. I get bored quickly when everythign is the same for too long. But I’m about to embark on a change that is big and scary and I totally know that heart leaping from your chest feeling. If you figure out how to control it, please do let me know!

    Good luck with everything!

  3. Just acknowledging this earthquake will help, I’m sure of it. Plus, know that we are here to be the strong leather gloves, protecting as much as we can, there for you.

  4. Your description of the rope’s splinters was so pitch perfect that I found myself clenching my hands into fists while reading. I’m sorry that the changes in your life are making you feel unmoored. Sending you an existential life jacket to wear while the tide goes back out.


  5. Change is so hard. The loss of the known, of what is comfortable, of stability and a sense of control. But change also holds promise. Excitement. That giddy and nervous feeling in your stomach. It’s important – as you well know – to take in these moments, to reflect on what you are leaving behind, to remember them. But it’s also important, for you and for teaching your kids, to be brave in the face of change.

  6. You already have the tools you need to make this transition – physically, mentally and emotionally. Trust yourself. And remember that, just for today, you are only in TODAY. None of it is happening yet. So enjoy the sun on your face as you walk into this particular spring day and let yourself let that be enough.

  7. ah! i love your opening sentence!

    i am terrible with change, even ones i have created. i work at it, but fear lurks. you have a tremendous amount going on, just with the job and the long loved nanny.

  8. In a society where we mostly deny endings, I find it bracing that you feel them so keenly and own their melancholy. Along the way I think you will indeed find your footing in the happiness of the ever-present moment, and in the soul-mate fellowships that Renae speaks of.

    We can only conceive of attachment in a framework of loss, happiness requires sorrow to exist. I know this painful soul journey and I know how much the world tends not to get it; I hope you find comfort in this world and its work of bringing your sort of soul more broadly to bear on the pragmatic world.

  9. By feeling what you are feeling, and living what you are feeling, you are being present with the emotions and your personal significance of the ends. xo

  10. I remember many sailing excursions with my dad. I was far more concerned with the sails blocking me from the sun than I was the sport and adventure of it all. That said, what I do recall was being tipped over so far that I was sure we would capsize. He always assured me that it was impossible; that the rudder of the boat was big enough to handle this angle, my terror, my gripping fear. And though I preferred smoother waters and far less wind, he was right. We never capsized. We eventually leveled out (until he could make another run at the wind). And I always walked on the solid ground – eventually.

    Know that though it often feels so, you do not grip the ropes alone; that your emotions are sane; that your naming them for others creates a space of healing and hope previously nonexistent.

    And the beauty and depth of your writing creates a piece of paper so large no flame can completely consume.

    I’m sure of this – and you.

  11. Emma’s comment was so spot on! Echoes my favorite part of my favorite Bible study: What is TRUE today? For today you can be in the moment, and breathe, and KNOW that you can walk thru this.

    Your words are so incredibly precise – I’ve missed reading them. I feel bad for you, to be so tender to your feelings and perceptions. As everyone else has said, we are here for you. Take heart also in this:
    in Scripture, everything comes to PASS – it never says, “And it came to stay. . .”
    Love, me

  12. Oh Lindsey, I’m glad I read this. If this were me, I would feel that this swell is going to wash up some enormously satisfying change. And I hope that is so. Until then, ride it out, enjoy laughter and sunshine with your children, and feel the freedom of an empty clock that spins round and round.

  13. It’s so interesting to me that this is how the endings are hitting you. So many would feel lucky to be free of the job etc. I’m glad you talked about the rope with such splinters. Mooring is complicated and we can be easily tangled.

    It’s been some time now. I’m hoping that you finding someone as you sail. That there is a whispered voice on the ocean current of life telling you who you are. I know it is frightening to listen in the midst of all that space. You’re brave to try. You’re brave to let us in as you hold the line.

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