It’s after midnight in Times Square. I’m sitting on the red steps with Dad and taking in the collosal amount of lit up billboards, advertisements, and flashing lights that are an inundation to my senses. It’s overwhelming in the kind of way only New York overwhelming can be.
When we planned this trip, not only did I want to see New York again, for its been awhile since I visited this city I so love, but I had a feeling that my Dad needed me. It was more than just an idle feeling, but came from something much deeper within which I like to call my thrum. Like striking a rich chord on the guitar that fills the space its in with an echoed hum, I have a thrumming sense of resonance deep inside when something is true and right.
Right place at the right time = THRUM.
If you are somebody who has ever felt like you had a “calling” in this life, than you 100% understand this and likely thrum a lot too. Sometimes thrums come at opportune times and are easy to respond to. And sometimes they come when least expected and have me rolling my eyes at the sky as I mutter, Seriously? Right NOW???
But thrums don’t wait for our timing, because they have their own sense of timing. And callings are not a matter of should I or shouldn’t I, they just are. And if you are tuned in, they will pluck you out from the middle of your very set circumstances and demand an answer. I said yes a few years back, and Life has directed me accordingly ever since. People wander across my path at the right time and I always feel a sense of rightness and purpose from The Universe at our intersections.
So having said that, I had a sense this trip was not just about New York but that somehow Dad needed to me. Our family has struggled throughout the years to be there for one another for a variety of complicated, life-happens-to-us-all kinds of reasons. Adulthood has brought growth and repairs to our familial fabric along with a few new ripped seams that have taught me to best keep a needle and thread handy. I thought that perhaps that needle and thread were going to be needed on this trip, that I was supposed to be there for my dad because somehow he needed me.
Turns out my thrum was right, but I got it’s purpose all wrong.
I didn’t come on this trip because Dad needed me.
I came because it was I that needed him.
My heart was heavy when I left Anchorage a week ago. Life has been a harsh task mistress as of late and though my higher self knows a) I am Loved b) all will be well c) Life isn’t about what happens but what we do with it d) I am awesome; the rest of myself mostly felt frayed, totally worn down, and disconnected from these higher truths of self.
I had expectations to recycle all that energy on this trip and reconnect with my inner joy as I envisioned myself merrily skipping along the streets of the city whistling show tunes as I went. Then there was the facebook message that pulled the rug out from under me and left me wondering if anybody actually sticks. Or if we just make promises with our words and presence in the moment that we later decide to take back when life gets hard.
In a world where everything is disposable, how quick we can be to dispose of and recycle one another when shit gets real.
And lately in my life? Shit got real. I’ve struggled to manage it all and have felt bereft of the nurture I sense I have badly needed during these hard times.
My Dad is not a man of many words. He knows numbers and facts and practical matters like mortgages and loans and budgets. Comforting sounds, sage advice, and sensitive intuitions are not where his gifts lay. He reads my writing and says its so deep it’s “scary,” as he wonders where I come up with this stuff and I simply tell him I have an old soul.
Dad has a look that I like to call his Sean Connery look. It’s the look on Sean Connery’s face right at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when after finding the holy grail Indiana says “and what did you find Dad?” Sir Connery looks up in reflection as this look of absolute sagacity gleams in his eyes, and he answers “Illumination.”
Dad had that look earlier this week and I asked him what wisdom was nesting in his brain in that moment, he thoughtfully gazed up with the same sagacious gleam and responded that he was thinking about the weather and if he should wear long or short sleeves. He wanted to be dressed just right.
Words are my forte, but they are not his.
Case in point was me sitting on a park bench quietly weeping behind giant sunglasses as we rested our legs and let the sun shine down on us on our Sunday in the West Village. I finally told him I was going to need a few minutes because something had just ended with someone who had been pretty important to me. Dad’s response as we sat in the sun and I felt my tears fall was simply a quiet sigh and an understated “Well that’s a bummer.”
Yes Dad, its a real bummer.
But the good thing about those who have few words is they expect few words back. We spent most of that day in silence punctuated by short breaks of conversation remarking on how nice the weather was and which direction is Canal Street again?
Dad just let me be, requiring nothing of me.
And somewhere in the letting me be, I found the solace I needed to internally cradle my very wounded heart as externally I just let my feet walk and my eyes look up as Dad and I walked block after block after block. 200 blocks that day. Tired feet to match a tired heart.
I didn’t need fancy words. I didn’t need advice. I didn’t need deep discussions. Dad’s presence and walking feet were enough. And he speaks the language of the doer and offered his comfort through letting me direct the trip, not allowing me to pay for a thing, insisting we get good seats at the Broadway shows when I said I didn’t need anything fancy, and just letting me be me with no expectations.
A week of simple pleasures where I wasn’t on call to be therapist, intuit, guide, wise friend, or really anything other than a daughter from somebody who asked for nothing other than my company.
A week where I didn’t have to force what is usually my very natural resiliency, that has been feeling depleted as of late, because I have learned it is distressing for friends to see the person they turn to for comfort in discomfort. And since I seen to feel things so deeply, a protective part of myself takes over and simply lets words fall out of the cracks in my heart onto paper so nobody else has to bear these feelings with me.
A week where it was okay to be a more subdued, quieter, albeit still colorful, version of my usually very enthusiastic excitable self.
A week of not worrying about money, how much things cost, checking my bank account to track what I spend, and feeling the burden that often comes from being a single woman who provides for herself and is determined to make it. Dammit.
A week of bring treated so extraordinarily well. Lovely sights, good food, four Broadway shows, and all sorts of tiny moments of goodness that I imagine will grow in appreciation after this trip, because the best things in life are usually too much to take in in a single moment and continue to grow in riches and meaning afterwards, as we realize how very special something truly was in our human hindsight.
What funny lessons life teaches that we usually do not fully appreciate what we had until it is gone.
It’s almost 1am and we are being kicked off of our red steps in Time Square as we watch the nearby deli for which we had a post midnight snack stop planned turn off it’s lights. I guess at some point this city needs to sleep and that the lights do go off on Broadway, if only for a brief moment.
It occurs to me in those last minutes of sitting that at once point this city represented the pinnacle of arriving to myself. It’s a great city where many great and talented people live. If you can make it there you can make it anywhere, right? My life used to seem small in comparison to such grand living.
I thoughtfully consider how much my life has changed since I thought in comparisons and that I no longer really believe in arrivals. For even those who appear to have arrived are really still on a journey. And if you are tuned into that journey, than it doesn’t matter where you are. You trust Life has you exactly where you need to be and will bring you to where you need to go. It’s not forced. It just is.
I calmly pull up my Facebook where I am usually known for posting thoughtful and inspirational phrases of hope, love, and life. They usually rise up effortlessly from me as they are life lessons I am in the process of living myself. But I have been on sabbatical all week other than the required “I’m having fun in New York” pictures. No words of hope, no inspiration, no healing balm as I usually would. I just haven’t had it, for I have felt a bit like a lost abandoned child wandering through this big city with only the quiet presence of Dad to guide her and the words that come tumbling out in her writing to offer sense and solace in her vulnerable, aching heart.
What words of guidance do I possibly have right now?
I stare at these bright lights all around and consider the fact that it really isn’t about where you are, it’s about what you do with where you are. And I’m not quite sure where I’m at right now with all this change, but I do know what I want to do with it.
I take the time to write 5 words on my status update that I can feel the truth of thrumming deep within.
“Love where you are planted.”
Then Dad and I take one last look at the bright flashing lights and stroll off to find a late night pizza joint still open to appease our cravings and simply enjoy one another’s solid presence. One last night of togetherness before we return to our separate lives. One last night where I just let him be there, for me.
I know not what life in Anchorage has for me as I dive back into the fray and begin the work of reknitting an unraveling heart. But I know I’ve got a lot of love in my pockets and that I shall contine walking this path of love because as much as you want to throw up barriers in your heart sometimes, they feel unnatural and closed. You know there is no thrum to be found there. And Life feels empty without that thrum.
And so my lights go out on Broadway as I head for home. Heart wide open. No shields. Just me. To simply go and Love where I am planted.