It's reality, I know. There's a lot going on in the world. There are a lot of other people out there doing their thing, and sometimes they get in the way of my progress. Still, it's frustrating. Sometimes it makes me want to shout "Excuse me!!! Coming through!!! Se puede passar?!!! Can one pass?!!!"
These images of bottle-necked frustration, and the unspoken phrases that go with the frustration, are also playing out this year in my figurative travels on the road of life. My life, and the lives of my two daughters, as well as those of many of our friends and family, were stopped dead cold earlier this year by the untimely death of my wife (their mother/daughter/friend etc.) Sue.
In regard to those literal road blocks, I don't know why, but some people have an inexplicable need to slow down and look at the road work, or the carnage, as the case may be, while blocking the way for others who are ready to move on. The same appears to be true for the figurative road blocks of life. Some are ready to move on, and others want to linger. Some are sure you are less than human if you don't also want to linger and look, and damn you anyway if you don't.
Yesterday evening, at a gathering to watch the Saints vs. Vikings pro football season kick-off game, I had a moment of insight about this dilemma. I passed around a picture of my new girlfriend, Cheri, and then I sat next to Christa Wiens, who observed that she missed Sue, and asked if I still experience sadness about the loss of Sue. I didn't know if her question had anything to do with the picture of Cheri I had just passed around, but I responded that, yes, I do still experience feelings of sadness about Sue. Christa then shared that she also still experiences feelings of sadness about the loss of her baby, Caleb, who died just over five years ago, but not to the degree she once did. She told me she vividly remembers the first day after Caleb's death that she didn't cry, and that she cried later that day because she felt guilty that she hadn't cried over Caleb. I could relate. We both agreed you move past that, but to a lesser and lesser degree over time it is still there.
Later, sitting alone at home and reflecting it occurred to me that Christa and her husband, Aaron, have moved forward from their life-stopping grief. They now have two lovely kids and they love them dearly. Everybody loves those precocious kids. They bring a lot of joy to that family, and to the world. And it occurred to me that one can move forward, and live somewhere between the sadness of loss and the gladness of gain. But on these figurative roads of life, when slow-downs and stoppages occur, ultimately one must choose to move forward toward gladness, and toward life, or to be indefinitely stuck in the bottle-necked quagmire that holds them back. The sadness of loss may be looked on directly -- should be looked on directly -- but ultimately, in my opinion, it must be observed only through the rear-view mirror; and ultimatley, as one moves forward, it must become a more-and-more-distant image.
In a recent discussion with my younger daughter regarding my moving forward in my relationship with Cheri, she observed that I am the kind of guy who will "plough forward without apologies." Ploughing and digging have something in common. However, I must acknowledge that she is partly right (well, mostly right). Going with the ploughing analogy, what other way can one plough than forward? But to the extent that "excuse me, can I pass through?" is a form of apology, I am not completely without apology for ploughing forward. "Se puede passar?" "Can one pass?"