We're like newly walking toddlers going up and down a slide.
We approach the ladder to climb to the top with hesitation or bold confidence—one step at a time with wobbly knees or solid footing.
We reach the top; a job well done! We feel proud, relieved, accomplished, and excited to be there. Or terrified. But we got this far, and there are better ways to get back down than the way we came up.
Now comes the second half: the slide—the purpose of the previous steps. The purpose is to have fun.
We get on our bottoms, scooch down, and surrender to the ride.
Sometimes the ride is just right — weeeeee!! The ride is smooth and everything we hoped for or better. The first go is so much fun that, of course, we want to do it again.
Sometimes the ride goes differently than imagined. It's too fast, too slow, we get stuck, or there are obstacles in the way (in actual playground terms, these would be spiders, water, gum, and other kids). We say woah/ouch/damn that was not what I expected! But we wipe off our hands and clothes and try it again. We keep trying, just like determined toddlers.
We climb our slides because we know that there is fun and fulfillment to be had. We keep climbing because fun and fulfillment are part of the reason we're here.
Moving to Australia was a decision to climb a tall, long, wobbly, and sticky slide. It's been the most challenging year of my life, and I've found comfort in knowing this about our decision to move: we trust our track record of taking on new adventures that take us out of our comfort zones, knowing that we'll come out alright, if not better than before.
"We'll come out alright, if not better than before"… That's the fun and fulfillment waiting for us at the bottom of the slide. That's the risk-reward factor of stepping up and out of our comfort zones. However wobbly the steps and how long and sticky the slide are unknown until we try.
I could have never anticipated how much of a doozy 2022 would be.
The first half of the year was a combination of gratitude for what we did have (a roof over our heads) and disbelief at the kind of roof we found ourselves living under (overtly rustic and shared with far too many country mice and rats). All the while, searching for a permanent place to call home when buying or renting proved equally difficult. The energy and attention required to parent young children sometimes felt like too much as I tried to reconcile every emotion, expectation, and dreams/plans for our new existence. I went from feeling deeply emotionally and spiritually secure before the move to flying by the seat of my pants and feeling incredibly unstable because of it.
Thankfully, the second half of the year felt like reaching the top of the slide; there was a major sense of accomplishment and relief when we found a place to rent and properly settle into for a while. Mental space was freed up to just be at home vs. wake up and be on alert for the next (typically rodent-related) issue. Physical space was freed up to stretch out and appreciate the comforts and security of home. It felt, and still feels, good to be on that solid platform after the climb.
I recently played Chutes & Ladders with my eldest daughter, and I chuckled when I read the back of the box: The exciting game of ups and downs! — it sounds like the game of life to me! And as the Nada Surf song, All Is A Game, says
But it all is a game
You forgot to play
It's easy to forget to play and have fun despite it all. This year's game of life revolved around finding/creating a sense of home in our new world, within ourselves and each other. The focus felt singular yet so abstract at times. There were days at the beginning that felt like we had landed in a parallel universe, and I didn't know how to get back to myself. It felt like a quantum leap into a new life that wasn't going the way we envisioned. It was so hard yet, thankfully, just part of the exciting game of life.
Here we are at the end of the year, in a better place and grateful for the moments of beauty and joy that were plentiful, as were the challenges that were opportunities to grow with lessons to keep in our back pockets. With a new year ahead, we sit on our bottom with our back pockets full and scooch down. Who else is ready and willing to surrender to the ride?
Goodbye 2022…I'm gonna have a party.