Friday, January 31, 2014

The Closest I Get To Miracles

I want to believe I can walk on water, but skating on thin ice (without falling in) is typically the closest I get to miracles.

It's been two weeks since my husband drove me to the airport in freezing rain and on ice rink roads. I breathed deep breaths and gulped down water and talked very good sense to myself, but my pounding pulse could not be tricked into slowing down.

There was something wildly unsettling about leaving my most precious people to fend for themselves in icy weather, to miss seeing their first ski meet, to risk that a long weekend with "just Dad" could turn into an entire childhood of the same.

I know that sounds melodramatic (and it totally is), but I'm not so naive as to think life carries always and perfectly on. And I was about to spend a good deal of time on the LA freeways, so the worrying was at least partially warranted.

But there was something triumphant about leaning into the anxiety, looking fear in the face, going out of my way to meet risk and discomfort  

I know. I must be a real piece of work to call myself courageous for leaving my family in Alaska to enjoy a girls weekend and run a marathon in California. I fly on a plane to flip-flop weather, and somehow this translates to me being brave?

But it does. In my pitiful, privileged way, it does. This is my vulnerability--that I love three people to the depths, the source of my wildest joy and most wrenching fear.

Tonight we scarfed pizza and devoured books. They're still reading as I type. The sun dipped behind the mountain, and we sat underneath the same roof while the moon rose. This is lovely and safe and comfortable and I could go on like this forever.

Except I couldn't. And neither could they. At least not without a heavy dose of antidepressants. That's why I left them for a weekend. That's why I set a goal I wasn't sure I could reach. That's why I took a risk.

Because this is what you do when you want a story to tell. You get off the couch and you go somewhere besides the carpool line or the cubicle. You stop picking stupid fights about where to store winter gear and start asking the hard questions, listening to the uncomfortable answers. You invest without guaranteed return. You give your whole heart to beat loudly into the day; and you don't damper-pedal dreams, yours or theirs.

I want to believe I can walk on water. Don't we all? And of course, we can't.

But you know what we can do? We can take a risk.

Sure, we could slip or sink, get soaked, start shivering. But we also might swim it, surf it, skate it, scale it. Water walking doesn't have a monopoly on the miracle market. It's not the only way to cross.

Most of the time, I think, the miracle just slips quietly into the back row while we're telling our stories--the stories of how we came up with the courage to cross, how we made it to the other side.


  1. Hi Jo. I miss you! So great about your race! Congrats! I nominated you for a Sunshine Award. No pressure to participate of course.

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