Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Please Do Not Park on the Verge

Every morning on my paper route, I ride past a tall telephone pole on which is posted a sign that reads: PLEASE DO NOT PARK ON THE VERGE. Zipping past, I've never really thought much about it until today. It's in the moments when we feel we can't keep pushing forward that seemingly insignificant things take on momentous value. People giving a thumbs-up, a smile and a chat, a sign on a telephone pole. These are the things the paper route has taught me, and today, after I gave my two weeks' notice as we prepare to begin our transition back to the states this summer, a sign spoke the words on which I desperately needed to ruminate.

Maybe you do, too.

If you find that you're on mile 23, running and feeling the burn along your calves, the strain inside your thighs, the stinging circling your stomach--don't stop. Now is not the time to take a breather, wait and see, wonder the thousand what ifs your mind seems always ready to proffer. Now is the time to keep moving forward. Please, don't park on the verge.

If you find that you're parenting as best as you can, and certain patterns feel so hard to change, and you have so many questions about what you need to learn to do better, what kinds of behavior you're teaching, why your kid shares sometimes and sometimes hoards, why a temper tantrum happens when the day looks bright--don't doubt. Now is not the time to question your ability as a mother or a father, your commitment to growth, or your unconditional love. Keep moving forward, doing the best you can, but understanding that you are never going to get it right every time. No one does. Please, do not park on the verge.

If you find that you're chasing a dream, and yet rejection is chasing you, and calls come that are so close you feel the whisper of their tender-hearted declines--don't lose faith. Now is not the time to take it easy, sit back in your chair, and ponder other avenues or possibilities. Now is the time to work through the closeness until it gets closer and closer. Now is the time to lean into the wind that blows you back, using its own force to make your forward movement that much more determined. Please, do not park on the verge.

If the character arc you're traveling seems oddly void of worldly goods--be it money, fame, praise, prestige, success, respect--don't change course and seek signposts that point towards results over work, product over process. Now is not the time to consider what your bank account could have been, what your status could have been, where your voice might have travelled. Now is the time to get down on yoru hands and knees and watch a bee on a flower; now is the time to realize and fully grab hold of that ancient truth that the work itself is the reward for the work. The joy of the journey is itself the reward for the journey. The love with which you hear and respond to the people all around you is the greatest possible fruition you can fathom. A kiss on the cheek of an elderly woman when you feel like crashing down, a wave to a neighbor, the example of a wife who keeps on giving so generously to a homeless shelter, to friends, to anyone in need even though her own battle is fierce--these are the signposts of love. These are the acts of triumph. Hold onto these. believe these. trust these and keep moving forward. Please, do not park on the verge.

Among everything you are up against, remember that love triumphs if you only choose to keep moving forward. Love your wife. Love your son. Love the people whose paths you find yourself crossing. Let this be your legacy. Not a bullet-point list on a resume. Not a checklist. Not fears of inadequacy nor worries about accomplishments. Let the sheer fact that you never stopped moving forward be all the bullet points you need.

Please, do not park on the verge. Cross over it, believing that the triumph lies in this feat and no other.