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On Navigating The Unnavigable

woman holding phone navigating through life

An airplane flies bold and determined through the afternoon sky. There are clouds again, always clouds. It’s June in Southern California—June Gloom, we call it—and despite all protest, this is normal. Despite all protest, the sun doesn’t peek its head out until far after two.

I close my eyes, lean back in my chair and listen to the palm trees shift in the breeze. I imagine sunnier temperatures, lazy summer days of my childhood finding their way back to me.

In those years, I lived without a care in the world. I played on the backyard swing set, telling stories of girls who kissed princes, who fought demons, who were mothers and big sisters and nursed sick animals back to life. In those days, my potential was endless. I wasn’t bound by the hands of a clock, by dinner needing to be cooked, by little hands that need snacks and hugs and rides to friends’ houses.

I was bound by the sun dancing in the sky, only ready to come home when I could no longer see my own hands in front of me. Only then would I return to the kitchen table, requesting the dinner, snacks, rides to friends’ houses—all the exact wishes my boyfriend’s son asks of me now.

It’s interesting how so much of our lives is cyclical, shaped by patterns, by changes, by the sun and clouds in the sky.

Right now, with the sun hiding, I can’t help but think about writing. This is the first time I’ve written in what I would consider ‘freely’ in months. This is the first time in a while that I’ve picked up my computer and started typing without an agenda, simply letting the words come.

I used to write this way all the time, every morning. Before life got so busy, before my business, before I was pouring out content piece after content piece for a reason, for a person, for a purpose.

There’s nothing wrong with that way of living, I remind myself. Sometimes I need reminders of who I am, of the ways my balance has shifted (and that’s okay). It’s okay.

But it feels good to write without knowing what word is coming next. It feels right to have no navigating, for everything to be an unconscious flow.

The clouds are heavy, foggy. They make me think about whether or not there’s something else up there—people, heaven, birds. Do you ever imagine yourself from up above? Like you’re a character floating in the sky looking down on your body and its every move?

Sometimes I think about this—a soul vs. body type of feeling. People say they experience it in lucid dreams. You’re resting there in your physical body but your mind is somewhere in the sky, watching you sleep. I guess, in some strange way, that’s how I feel right now. In the physical, I’m here. I’m sitting in a wicker chair at an outdoor glass table with the wind brushing my loose hair across my face.

But I can also picture myself from above. I can see my hands moving over the keyboard in rapid succession. I can see my dog rolling in the dirt, making his freshly-washed fur all dusty again. And in the room down the hall, I see my boyfriend’s son laughing at a video game on the TV—a mirror, in some ways, of how I was—young and carefree.

I wish I could understand the way this world shifts, how we go from one feeling to the next, one state of being to another. In some ways, I feel like I just was a child. I feel like it was just a few weeks ago I was hiding behind the bedframe in my childhood room, creating stories and burying diaries with secret code under the carpet.

It feels like just yesterday I was memorizing the home phone number of the boy from my third-grade class, already imagining what his lips would feel like on mine and if kissing was as scary as I pictured it and pretended it would be.

There are so many ways that life rushes at us—from meeting friends to learning how to love, to watching things we love pass on, to discovering that even though we might try our absolute hardest, there’s a chance it will all fall apart.

I guess, ironically, we spend so much of our lives learning. Learning how to be, how to let go, how to heal, how to find our own sunshine. How to love a child that is not our own. How to watch yourself shift from someone you thought you knew, to suddenly finding pieces of ourselves in another person.

And realizing that the ebb and flow of life, although terrifying, is actually quite beautiful. Even if the wind is heavy and the sky is grey.

There is so much to navigate, I realize—from when I was young to even now, as I learn a new identity of someone older, someone more mature, someone who is seen as a caregiver, a confident, a mother, a friend.

I remember when I was young feeling like the world was this uncharted map, and I remember being panicked at all that I couldn’t grasp, couldn’t yet understand.

But isn’t that what life is, really? Navigating the unnavigable?

Maybe the truth is that we never really learn. We just laugh. We just love. We just open our mouths or put our fingers to keys and let it all slowly, unconsciously become.

Featured Image Credit: TONL

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Marisa Donnelly, M.Ed., is a writer/editor, credentialed teacher, proud bonus mama, and CEO of Be A Light Collective, a coaching and content creation business and digital marketplace. She is the Director of Donnelly’s Daily Apple, a flexible learning/tutoring and educational resource platform, and the lead voice for Momish Moments and Step by Step Parents, verticals dedicated to sharing and advocating for non-traditional parenting journeys. Marisa currently resides in San Diego, California, with her fiancé, kiddo, and their two rambunctious Pitbulls. ❤️

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