Eularee Smith
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Ebb and Flow

As I enter the sixth decade of my life, I can’t help but look back, while at the same time I keep moving forward. The ebb and flow of life really didn’t hit me until I was in my 40’s, more predominantly in my 50’s and now in my 60’s I hope there is a little more flow than ebb.

Recognizing the times in your life when things definitely seem to be pulling us back rather than moving us forward is important. Ebb and flow are not in opposition but rather a constant motion that should remind us how fleeting and precious life on this planet can be.

I spent a decade in cancer recovery in my 40’s. Like the sands slipping through your toes on the beach, I felt like my life was slipping through my fingers and I had to hold on tight everyday or be washed away in the pain and fear. It was sheer tenacity and my three kids that kept me from surrendering to the constant ebb of that tide.

In my late 50’s, when my brother died and then my dad a few months later, both by tragic circumstances, the ebb of their lives pulling away from mine was agonizing. There was no way out but to claw my way back into life and focus on making them present to restore the flow.

Now in my 60’s, I feel the flow returning, albeit slowly. I look forward to retiring, not from life but from the day-to-day grind that ebbs my energy. My flow consists of boundless energy. Rather than harness it, though, I want more of a daily ebb and flow. Choosing the projects to focus my attentions and releasing those that are moving against the flow, letting them ebb into oblivion, a part of the past, a fond memory as I move forward.

Ebbs and flows are not moments of angst as I once thought. They are moments of gaining strength to meet the next challenge. Together these forces create great power, and like the ocean, can be as calming as they are forbidding. Learning to ride out these tides is an inevitable lesson of life. As my grandmother would tell us as children, this too shall pass. I like Bette Davis’ line. “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Image: flickr by Nouhallier

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