The Paradox of Life

As I begin my cross country drive to Northern California, I am reminded of the paradox of life. Namely, I’m moving and leaving family, dear friends as well as personal belongings behind, but I’m also moving towards something new and the curiosity of what this will bring in my future is exciting. I admittedly completely freaked out about making this move initially. I cried for days as I stared out my window in my B&B looking for housing and thinking about how my life would be in this unknown town. It was cold and raining and gray. I felt a paralyzing loneliness, worry and confusion. I was totally lost; in both senses of the word. I missed my friends in Maui so much and they felt so far away and inaccessible. I knew that I would not have the freedom to see my family and friends in Tampa with the ease I had been afforded the previous year and a half. When would I see my aging grandmother again? Many things were going on in my friends’ lives that I would miss.  I also had a deep knowing that this was the next step my life should take.  It is often said that the things that scare us the most also have the potential to offer the most growth. Ahhh…growing pains!! Life can feel so hard sometimes and yet also be light and soft. This paradox can seem emotionally confusing and draining, however, allowing all the feelings to surface without resisting the path makes the journey much more enjoyable and the tough stuff pass more quickly. 

Yet, it was me that called on my friends and family to remind me of this truth…to feel the scariness, to remember how courageous I am, to find and access my power.  When I was wounded and forgot who I was at my core, it was those I keep closest to me that reminded me. My loneliness brought the beauty of friendship and the human connection to my surface. This paradox presented itself to me through my tribe; while I was stuck and unable to control my emotions, this gift came shining through. Through the pain, lightness presented itself. 

The word “luck” has popped up recently surrounding my move.  This is not a word I like. A lot of people tell me I’m “lucky” because I get to move to California. Luck is a word suggesting that something fell into your lap and you did nothing to achieve it. You simply rolled the dice and boom, something fortunate happened in your life. My life is not a product of luck at all. It’s a product of a lot of tough decisions; a lot of listening to my own intuition; following my own inner guidance; asking and receiving gifts and signs given to me by something much bigger and greater than me.  I often don’t have an explanation for my next steps or why I am making a certain decision, I just know internally what I need to do and I am proud that I am learning to trust that. Speaking this type of language has brought me a lot of joy and validation as well as isolation at the same time….in comes the paradox again. 

Amy Purdy, a former professional snowboarder that lost her legs to spinal meningitis, had to reinvent herself with what she “had available to her” – this is in her own words. This mantra has taken her on to win a Paralympic bronze medal with her new prosthetic legs, write a book, model, speak at TED talks and on stage with Oprah. But it is her story on Dancing with the Stars that most fascinates me. With two prosthetic legs, Amy danced the most beautiful, graceful, and emotionally moving ballet I have ever witnessed.  She used “feet” that were created for swimmers that have lost their legs and attached them to her “legs” so she could reinvent their use for her ballet.  She needed toes to balance on and to-date, those were the only prosthetic feet in production that would work for her purpose.  She used what she had, and she danced. Her dance tells a perfect story of trying, falling down and getting up in a new transformative graceful way that is different but so much better than you could ever imagine. Her dance was dedicated to her father for giving her one of his kidneys to save her life when she had meningitis.  In fact, her father gave her life a second time when he gave her a kidney, and her immense gratitude showed on stage.  Amy knew the grace and power of her given legs in the snow but she redefined what her body was capable of when she danced the ballet in front of millions.  There is something extraordinarily human about being vulnerable and showing people how hard something is for you. Through Amy’s “handicap,” she is able to show the world her inner grace and vulnerability - the paradox between hard and soft. Amy carries around a tool box in her purse to fix her legs when they fall off.  What a beautiful metaphor for all of us! What tools do we have with us at all times to fix us when we fall down, because we will fall down.  But how will we get up? Do we need to make it hard or can we use our tools to soften the experience? 

So now as I drive out of Florida, it feels very much like I’m leaving my hometown for the first time. Yet, the path is very clear and I have the tools to get me through this. I am literally driving it mile by mile. While I lived in Maui for a few years, I always knew it was a stepping stone and was never home or my final destination. Moving to California feels different - I’m physically driving my car there rather than shipping it or flying out. Although as I pay for gas, I realize one of the latter options may have been cheaper! However, I am appreciating the journey and lessons along the way, and I can’t think of another time I would dedicate 30+ hours of concentrated listening. I’m learning as I’m going – hours of podcasts and books that have been on my wish list, and even brushing up on my Spanish.

Things are always changing and even if something is perfect in this very moment, it is fleeting. Mastery is not permanent. The next best thing is coming up behind you. I started out this particular chapter feeling pretty powerless but what I know for sure for all of us is that our true potential and power cannot be reached without taking that next step and rising up from uncertainty. With that said, I’m excited to see where this move takes me!

Comment below with a time you’ve resisted change but pushed forward and learned from the experience.