I watch the ripples change their size
but never leave the stream of warm impermanence and
so the days float through my eyes
but still the days seem the same.
August represents the end of carefree days and overfilled late summer nights, the end of freedom. As a child, August was the month I got a new back-to-school outfit, rocking new shoes, new school supplies and the perfect new back packs. August was also the month crammed with last minute summer outings, final fun excursions, s’mores, and our last trip to the boardwalk, all in preparation of the new year.
August was everything. August held the last vestiges of summer joy, coupled with expectations of what was to come in the year ahead. It was often hard to know which was more exciting, the blur of the last days of summer, or the anticipation of the year to come.
After a lifetime of Augusts’, with the change it inherently brings, I find myself surprised at the August I am now facing. This August I dismantle everything I’ve known, every thing I’ve been, everything I relied on to anchor me. This August I revert back to the single woman of my youth, with a few more pounds, much more responsibility and yes, many unwanted wrinkles. What is surprising is how unprepared I feel.
I’ve been waiting for this day for three years. I’ve yearned for the day I’d move to my own house, a place that would be all mine. I’ve craved the ability to move forward, declare myself renewed, push the restart button. As I write this I am on the precipice of doing just that. In 4 days the movers move my son and I to the place I’ve chosen to be our new home. Three days later, when I finally sell my family home, I sign the paper severing the last thread connected to my old life, preventing me from embracing my new life.
August does not disappoint – once again it brings me the change I long for, yet also fear.
As I head into this month, during which I finally get all I’ve longed for, I can’t help wondering – what will really change? Will a new address bring about a new me? Will the end of a chapter in my life also be the start of a new chapter? Or, will I simply change my address? The same old me, facing the same old joys and challenges, in the same way I always have.
When I was 13 I spent August preparing for Junior High. This would be the most dramatic change of my life, and I couldn’t wait. I had the perfect orange peasant blouse, bell bottom jeans and platform sneakers (yes, I am that old) and I was ready. I was certain that armed with the perfect wardrobe & hairstyle I would conquer the Junior High. I remember that morning as if it was yesterday. There I stood at the bus stop, looking amazing, yet feeling my confidence dissipate, as if I was leaking confidence, losing it like sweat, dripping off of my skin. By the time I stepped onto the bus, my confidence was gone. In it’s place were the thoughts that so often dominate my life – thoughts based on fear.
That was the first time I understood that change is terrifying. It makes no difference how prepared or excited you are. It matters not one bit what you are wearing, where you are going, how much you’ve been looking forward to it. Because in that moment, in that final moment when the change is upon you, you have no choice but to look into your soul and acknowledge that none of it matters. In the end, it is just you. The same you that was there yesterday, the same you there will be tomorrow. You can change your address, your wardrobe, your friends, your job, but you can’t change your soul. Your soul comes with you everywhere you go.
This August I am facing this realization: there are no changes I can make to void the pain I’ve felt, erase the moments of joy I’ve experienced, eradicate the scars of a life that failed to meet my expectations.
This August, as I change the external aspects of my life, I am focused on embracing my soul, the soul that has carried me through all of life’s changes. The soul that has been my constant companion, and my number one fan, even when I wasn’t.
As I change my address, and my furniture, and other quantifiable aspects of life, I hope to change the only thing any of us really need to change: the way I speak to myself; the way I cherish, or chastise, my soul, for I have done both.
I used to believe that nothing is constant but change. Now I don’t. Now I believe nothing is constant but our soul, our internal spirit, that intangible part of us that makes us unique. That part of us is constant. How we treat that part might change, but the intrinsic nature of the core of our being will never change.
I have made it my August goal to cherish that part of myself, to pay homage to all it is and all it can be, to embrace this unknown part of me that loves me always. Perhaps this August I can change enough to love this part back.