The Middle


I woke up crying in post-op. The nurse wiped away my tears with a Kleenex. Poor thing, she cooed. The nerve block hadn’t worked. She quickly administered Demerol and Percocet. Within minutes, the sharp pain had retreated into a hazy giddiness. Sweet relief.

Back home, hopped-up and slurring, my husband and I got into an argument about the level of ice versus water in the ice machine. Everyone had warned me about the serious need of icing. I was terrified. He likes to argue a point. I need to be heard. A crutch was thrown. Words were said. Apologies followed. And then I ate a sleeve of Saltines. They were delicious.

This morning, I woke up in the middle. I’ve been here before. The middle is the hard part. The middle isn’t the sweet exhale of survival. It isn’t the backward victory wave. It’s just the middle. It sits at the table staring at you drumming its fingers. It’s in no rush. It doesn’t have exciting plans. It’s dull. Like your unwashed COVID hair. Stupid. Like all the new shows (except Gameface). Boring, like the stack of recommended fiction waiting on the nightstand. Thick like your waist is going to be from those vanilla shakes.

Lying in bed, the feeling overtakes me. Craving sweat, hot sun, the smell of scorched sage and earth. Blue skies overhead. Sound of a rushing mountain stream. Fresh air. No boundaries. No rules. No people. Screaming fucking free!

Heal knee! Go away pandemic!

I want to crawl off of the sofa, get in my car, gun it fast and far into the widest open space on Earth.

Slow down, I tell the anxiety. Deep breaths, I encourage my mind. Take it easy. We’ve been in the middle before. You know this race. You can’t rush it. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

What kind of result will manifest if we barrel through the juicy, rich middle of this new experience?

Ugh. The lessons in the middle tackle the hardest subjects. The ones you avoid unless you’re stuck on the couch. Unbearable pain. Suffering. Grief. Holding on. Letting go. Staying in the fight. Frustration. Getting stronger.

The middle discoveries happen in lag time. About me. About happiness. About falling in love with the worst moments in our lives because we stayed until they changed.

Yes. But.


Stop resisting.

Experience is all we have.

It’s time to grow. Grow again.

When the water is clear, the moon is reflected. Stop kicking. Stop flapping around. Stop muddying the water.

Don’t you get it yet?

The middle is the best part.

You are making the gifts of real grit, tenacity, patience, endurance, and resilience. The best middles are filled with tears that ease into a kind of softness where you understand, you feel, IT! That your life is a part of everything. And everyone.

You can’t grow a seed into a flower overnight.

You can’t heal a broken heart with one sunset.

Or climb a mountain before your knee can bend again.

We don’t want to be uncomfortable. We just want “it” over. We feed our weakness, and that is our original unhappiness. For what is discomfort but growing pains? And if we don’t want to look at ourselves and grow, we are certainly doomed to a sharp fate.

We’re all about the laws of attraction and manifesting without realizing it takes time to grow and nurture a dream, a seed, even a baby duck. We stamp our feet like children.

Fast food, faster phones, expendable jobs, ended relationships – we think everything should be easy, accessible and available twenty-four-seven at our fingertips. Like comfort ever made the best human.

The journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes twelve days. If you stop on the eleventh, how can you watch the moon rise over the capital?

Don’t give up!

We judge ourselves in the middle of an experience. Thinking that it’s the end. I certainly have, several times in the past.

You can get there. You can visit the woods anytime.

Remember that time in high school?

The herd of elk standing in the middle of the dirt road on that foggy winter night? Just a teenaged girl driving home from work. How they rustled silent and powerful, their bristled hides glistening from the wet air. How, mesmerized, you gently slowly climbed out of your old Subaru and stood amongst them. Felt their bodies shuffling within arm’s reach. Listened to their breath. The sound of their hooves kicking the hard dirt. Everything around you electric and alive. (You will remember this magic for the rest of your life.) It was minutes but it felt like hours until the herd started down the hillside and the mountain night was silent again and you climbed backed inside your Subaru pick-up and closed the door and cried because the world is so beautiful.

So beautiful it will break your heart.

Yes, this is the middle.

Here today on the sofa.

No one can take away the open spaces.

Let it be. Leave it alone. Allow it to work things out. Never give up.

The middle is the best part!

And…wear your mask. Because I love you.

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