When September rolls around, my thoughts invariably drift toward the millions of parents and guardians preparing for a monumental shift in their lives. They’re holding back tears as their little ones enter their very first day of school, giving pep talks to preteens starting the tumultuous middle school years or witnessing their older children transition to the post-college real world. Heartfelt, emotionally charged conversations fill the universe as parents and guardians impart their wisdom to their kids. These pivotal times represent a significant rite of passage for everyone involved and bring with them a myriad of emotions – apprehension, joy, fear, happiness and sadness.
Throughout life, we all face transitions and moments that challenge and push us out of our comfort zones. September isn’t just a big deal for parents and guardians – it’s symbolic for anyone standing at the threshold of change. Big or small, these shifts can be as daunting as they are exciting.
I am reminded of the wave of uncertainty and stress that washed over me before my youngest son’s departure for college. I’d been paying close attention to my emotions and the role they played in embracing the pending changes in my life around that time. A tidal wave of heartache surged through me as the date of my youngest son's college departure neared. Every fiber of my being resonated with the emotions of that period, not just because my son was leaving, but because his departure marked my transition into the poignant silence of an empty nest.
The day before he left, during a hike in a nearby redwood forest, my spirits found unexpected solace. I chanced upon two white-spotted fawns walking closely to their protective mother. I watched the fawns playfully dart away, leaving their mother behind. To my surprise, the doe seemed undisturbed, grazing calmly and seemingly at ease with their exit. I was intrigued. I wondered if she ever fretted about their well-being when they weren’t under her watchful eyes.
When I came down the trail an hour later, I spotted the deer family reunited. A comforting realization dawned on me in that moment – my own journey mirrored that of the mother deer. Our children may come and go, yet our enduring role is to continue to nurture the threads of connection and love. No matter the distance or time apart, when family remains our heartfelt focus, its bond remains unshakable.
Of course, it takes courage and trust to allow life and its numerous transitions to unfold as they will. Our challenge is to evolve with each heartbeat, knowing that each day offers us a chance to acknowledge our changing roles, address the stresses associated with them, and balance the joy of witnessing the present experience without obsessing about the future or regretting the past.
I like to think of life as a tapestry woven from the threads of changes, endings and new beginnings. Every time we let go of something old, we pick up a new thread and weave it into our evolving narrative. To view letting go as a loss is to see only half the picture. The other half is rich with potential – new stories, lessons and opportunities waiting to be embraced. When we welcome this continuous flow, we find that each transition simply signals the dawn of a new chapter.
There are times when we're closely connected with others, sharing moments, memories, and spaces. These are the times of togetherness that fortify our bonds, uplift our hearts, and build our shared histories. Conversely, there are times of solitude or distance, whether physical, emotional, or both. These moments offer opportunities for introspection, personal growth, and deepening our self-awareness. In essence, the dance of togetherness and separation is intrinsic to the human experience. Embracing both aspects can lead to a richer, more balanced life.
As we navigate the present and future, let’s welcome each new experience as a path to personal growth. Celebrate in achievements, draw insights from setbacks, and shed old beliefs or habits that no longer serve us - recognizing that it’s all woven into the tapestry of our collective human journey.