In my dream, I was riding my bike. I was on a hill, going down, but for some reason I couldn’t move. The dirt path was brown and soft, and my front tire was completely flat. So when I rode, it sunk deep into the grooves in the mud and almost stood still. With each forceful effort to move a little bit forward, I had to keep putting my foot down in order to stay balanced. Despite being on the incline, I couldn’t get the bike to move downhill – it stayed stuck in the mud. It didn’t make logical sense, but many dreams don’t.
I always want to get to places faster than is reasonable. I want to get through something in order to be somewhere else. I can see the bright and shiny light dancing at the end of the tunnel, and it all but blinds me. It’s so distracting and inviting that I forget about all the work that needs to be done to get there. I just want it – now.
When we have a big project at hand, a dream to achieve, or a life stage to “get through”, it’s important to remember that the process of getting there is so much more rewarding than the shiny light at the end of whatever tunnel you are in. The tunnel is your teacher and your safe place.
The tunnel is what you will remember – it’s the part that will stay with you forever and remind you of who you really are. The tunnel is your calling.
When my oldest son Bennett was born, the first 2 months were a blur. Life felt warm and new, but also overwhelming and not what I expected. I nursed him during the dark, 3am feedings. We rocked quietly in the upholstered chair my mom had given to me at my baby shower. She taped a photo of the chair and matching ottoman inside the card, and wrote in excited, loopy script – “It’s important to have a good rocking chair – you’ll spend a lot of time in it!”
Rocking my baby in the chair, I glanced around the nursery at the white wooden crib, the checkered yellow curtains, and the carefully placed books. Out the window, I noticed the still twinkling stars shining brightly in the black night sky. I was tired, but alert. This was a passing moment, and for some reason, even though I wanted to be asleep, I knew it. I sensed the magic. I sensed the safety. I sensed that I was inside the tunnel, and that I would be on the other side soon enough. For now, this is where the memory was – I was making it.
A new baby breathes joy and life into a once empty space. We welcome the baby in, and we do our best to show appreciation even when we are completely drained. We understand the challenging times as part of the experience, and we know that the experience is temporary. But the same applies to pain. Death, divorce, tragedy and loss – these are all opportunities to remain in the tunnel. The pain is not a bad thing – it’s just achy and uncomfortable. It stings. When we’re broken, it’s easy to want the pieces to go back together right now, but like those magical moments in the dark nursery, maybe being broken is what will stay with you. Maybe that’s the time to stop and notice – instead of reaching prematurely for the bright and shiny light at the end of the tunnel.
During the dark times, is when we recognize that we actually have light inside us. When you are happy, you might think external sources are providing your light – the relationship, the job, the perfect body, the perceived success – but, dear girl, it is you. Your light is always in you and available to you, so there is never anything to fear. And when you’re stuck in the tunnel, you’re not really stuck. You’re being asked to stay – because there is magic happening there, and you don’t want to miss it.
Photo Credit: Samantha Davis Photography