Keep on Keepin’ on.
Step by step.
Moment by moment.
Choice by choice.
Day by day.
We make our way.
We don’t have to know how we’re going to get there
Just TRUST we will.
My mom loved the Ellen DeGeneres show. It was a part of her daily joy as Ellen took her out of her troubles for an hour. There was an 80 year old woman from Texas who I believe was named Alice that Ellen would have call in from time to time because she innocently said some of the most hilarious things the way a child does. On her first phone interview, she revealed in her Texas draw as if she were in a confessional one on one with Ellen: Now I’ll tell you something. I love Jesus but I like to have a drink or two. The audience and Ellen instantly fell in love with Alice’s wit and wisdom. One of her most memorable one-liners came following a health crisis where she shared her motto: I say ya’ just gotta keep on keepin’ on. Even as I type this, there is an inner knowing that is stirred in this simple yet profound saying and there is a noticeable boost in my energy.
Last night while having dinner with a friend, a man that I had met before on the one year mark of his wife’s passing sat down to chat. He is a 60 year old Irish man born and raised in New York, full of stories as he has lived a life indulging his wanderlust – globe-trotting and raising hell with the rich and famous, a tough guy with tenderness to match, a passionate restaurateur with places all over the United States, he is about to open his thirtieth right here in Nashville. And he is completely heartbroken. It has been a little over a year since his beloved wife of 25 years died and he is sick with grief. He was putting on a show, boisterously entertaining all those around us as this is the face he is comfortable revealing. But then as the audience cleared out, he began to talk about his wife and how much he misses her every single day, how lonely he is spending 98% of his time by himself, how he doubts he will ever love again and can’t believe how much his wife loved him and how much he loved her, how he is tired of feeling so damn bad all the time and wonders how he will ever feel good again.
The Irish man is living all these questions with no definite answers. He is living in the great unknown in a more pronounced way in the wake of his beloved’s death and the death of all that was including who he was. There are psychic anchors that ground our life and our partner's, those we share our life with do this in immeasurable ways. Our days, our lives are identified in connection with them and the things we do together. Even those of us who believe we know what tomorrow will bring actually don’t but it is essential to our well-being to live as if we do.
After listening to him share all the: I don’t know how’s that spin all day long as he is still untethered and fragmented as his new identity has not grounded, I grabbed his hand and said: One day at a time. I have lived this and shared that in my experiences over the last 2 ½ years, I have discovered that we don’t have to know how life will unfold, how we will climb the mountain, how we will walk through the fire. It is a matter of trusting that we will get there, new life will come and it is an organic process that the graces of the universe allow not something we will to happen. He cried silently, surrendering to all that was bubbling up that needed to be witnessed by another who truly understands and could hold him in a nurturing space. I assured him that he is living the answers One day at a time and to Keep on Keepin’ on his way honoring the sacredness of this loss, this pain, this shatteredness and to be present to his life: Step by Step, Moment by Moment, Choice by Choice.
As life always orchestrates perfectly, I was able to share with the Irish man a message of hope, a revelation that had come to me that morning: I am not married to John anymore. As he looked up at me wide-eyed, astonished at the miracle he knew had come my way, all he could say quietly was Wow…Wow…Wow…I hope I get there. I assured him that he will: One day at a time.
In times when we are fragile and the slightest things can overwhelm us, our survival depends on living one moment, one breath, one step and one day at a time. But there is a magic to being with the new day, full of promise, expecting the good even from the experiences we would never wish for, staying open to the possibilities, allowing the miracles to be revealed through us and to us. The invitation is to journey into the great unknown: One day at a time.