Tag Archives: When Things Fall Apart

When Things Fall Apart (Or Seem To): Everyday Magic, Day 890

Since the inauguration our family has been living out a microcosm of the macrocosm. While the details aren’t mine to tell, let’s just say that we had one of those unjust life incidents in which we discover that, contrary to popular human opinion, there’s sometimes (translation: often to always) no real ground when it comes to what we can count on and control. Macrocosm-wise, this also feels true for many of us who are partaking of the buffet of letter- and email-writing, phone calls, marching, and all manner of resisting unjust policies stinging our hearts, violating our values, and crashing apart our ideals and safeguards.

In such times, I go back to Pema Chodron, particularly her anchoring-to-reality book, When Things Fall Apart, in which she writes,

We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

I remember when some close friends of ours were going through major marriage re-evaluation, both of them hurting but shining. They told us, “Then you realize there truly is no ground, and it’s terrifying and exhilarating.” They made it through and have been together for the likes of close to 40 adventurous years, and I’m so grateful to them for their example of courage and clear-seeing at the fall-apart times.

Yup, it’s a panoramic swirl of falling apart and together, and along the way, often all at once, there’s a careening dance of agony, ecstasy, anxiety, heartbreak, hope, amazement, and many moments when we can really feel our beating heart. Sometimes it all comes together at 4 a.m. when one of us wakes up to exhaustion, freak-out, and wonder. Sometimes the calm of trembling cedar trees against overlapping clouds reminds us to breathe. But always, there’s both groundlessness in such times, and the real ground, where we will walk soon, in a hurry to get from house to car on a cold morning, so that we can aim ourselves toward (what else?) love in whatever form shows us why we’re here.

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When Things Fall Apart: Everyday Magic, Day 795

One of my favorite books, Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, names this week. Two of our three young adult children lost their jobs, my uncle died after a difficult (but thankfully short) hard ending, another friend is close to leaving us, and yet another is in the hospital in critical condition. Several nights of thunderstorms translated into my very big dog trying to climb on my head while the cats danced and pounced across our blankets. Yet the universe has added some comic relief: yesterday, Shay the dog strategically unzipped my purse and proceeded to eat a large bag of cough drops, making his breath methol-fresh.

In between buying a plane ticket after several hours of scouring the Internet (beginning at 5:38 a.m.), packing, and finishing getting a book of poetry ready for publication, I turn to Pema Chodron’s writings, and find this:

We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy…..To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.

As I sit in my living room, watching the haze of the softly-lit clouds blow through the tops of the cedars, I breathe slowly, trying to appreciate life out of the nest, the place where I can no longer pretend life isn’t so unpredictable or dangerous. I open my heart to the sadness I feel about my uncle, a man who often made us laugh very hard and was the first person I knew who adored sushi. I replay the refrain Kim Stafford told me about being a parent,”Difficult to watch, impossible to fix.” I listen to the dog, snoring beside me on the couch as he catches up on sleep after so many restless nights.

Some weeks things fall apart. Plans drastically change on a dime. Life lessons, as my mother reminded me yesterday, come at us, no matter our age or circumstance. “Let me remember to let there be room enough for healing,” I tell myself just as a large crow landed on the top of the cedar, balanced on the swaying branches.