I expected to walk away from that day with Two Elbows caked in the sheer leftovers of salt water, Two Feet covered in a thick layer of sand, and Two Eyes quite ready to lock up their doors and close for the night.
Instead, I walked away with a handful of rocks and what is surely the best lesson I have learned on “Holding On & Letting Go,” taught to me by a four-year-old geologist in a frilly red Dora bikini.
She and I had been walking down the endless stretch of beach for hours. Long enough for a sunburn to begin teasing the backs of both our necks.
Her Tiny Hand found a suitable hiding spot within mine; her fingers stealthily hidden within the folds of the embrace.
“This one, this one,” she squealed, breaking away to pick up yet another Ordinary Rock. She placed it amongst a collection of similar Sand Stranded Siblings, now piled into the fold of her Beach Diva Satchel, newly converted from my grey tank top.
“Audrey….” I hesitated, the load starting to weigh me down. We now “owned” practically every rock on the beach.
“Wait, wait. I know,” she said, putting her hands out in front me. “Sit here.” She motioned to the grounding, sitting first, and then proceeded to instruct me in dumping out the pile of rocks onto the sand.
There we sat for fifteen minutes picking and choosing our rocks.
Bringing some home.
Leaving some behind.
This one but not that one.
That one but not this one.
A process intricate enough to compare with the patterns of Marc Jacob as he picks a final line-up for his runway shows during Fashion Week in Paris.
Remarkable. Scientific. Intentional.
It is when I watch a girl—one who has only played on this earth for a little more than a thousand days—bury rocks in the sand as if they she were tucking each of God’s children into bed that I realize that life is a delicate, delicate thing. That letting go is essential. That holding on is sometimes worse. That picking between the two is hard. And I choose to type “hard” instead of “arduous” or “troublesome” because it is only four letters. And four letters is simple. And keeping the adjective simple is a way to underskirt all the complications that really come with the acts of Letting Go & Holding On.
I would adore the chance to kid myself, to make myself believe that mastering the art of efficient emailing and text messaging will enable me to hold every single person I have ever met in the palm of my hand; a way to possibly hold onto a person forever just by dropping a line every once in a while. I’ll make believe that I would rather attend ten thousand coffee dates instead of ever folding for the one who memorizes my order: Grande Skim Misto with a Shake of Cinnamon.
Satchel Every Human Being That Crosses My Path.
I could squeeze close friends into side flaps, lovers into secret compartments, strangers into the netted pockets made for water bottles.
But I tend to believe it would get Too Heavy. Too Full. Too Much. And I would then need to unload; find ways to spare my heart from splitting into 5,000 Too Tiny Pieces in order to give Big Chunks to the people who really deserve them.
Big Chunks (noun) (plural): stories; childhood memories; unflattering bad habits (i.e. snapping chewing gum); thoughts on food; dreams; life longings; quirky cravings, see: ‘peanut butter at midnight’ and ‘falafel on a Sunday morning’; ambitions; doubts; secrets; secrets intertwined with vulnerability; secrets intertwined with shame; best jokes; baggage; insecurities; etc.
Big Chunks. Jeepers. That’s absolutely petrifying.
But in a world where we a) wonder so much b) do so much c) cry so much d) talk so much e) live so much d) fear so much, it is only sane to allow a certain few to read us & hold us like paperback novels. Read all the parts of what often looks like a misshapen story.
And then take us in regardless…
After that long day. After that hard winter.
These are the people who value the ways in which we make room for them and they, in turn, scoop us up into their satchel and choose to never let us down. They are the ones who become our Rocks. Our Support. Our Reason to Wake Up, Stretch, Send a Prayer Upward for them and Then Walk Forward because of them.
Delicate, I say.
Beautiful, I believe.
Risky, of course.
Heart Breaking? In some ways.
But Only in the Best Way.