Happiness Only Real When Shared

We watched Into the Wild this weekend. I remember being so moved by the book when it came out; I was 24 years old. Watching the movie at 36 gave me new perspective. I went to bed thinking about the relationships we make and break throughout our lives. The feelings of isolation we can feel when surrounded by too many people. There are such elements of naïveté in Chris’s story. It’s tragic really that he wasn’t more prepared because he seems to have been a really great guy, just young and a bit overly confident. He was the type of person who could have come out of the wild and made a significant impact with the rest of his life. Yet perhaps his impact was meant to be made through death. In death he became a beacon, a reminder that there is a raw wildness that exists in each of us, a wildness that most of us are disconnected from, a wildness that we need to find our way back to.

This time as I watched the story unfold a pit formed in my chest. Children make their own choices, they blame you for how you raised them, they die. Sometimes they die. Swirling ache moved from my chest into my shoulders and down to my knees, thinking of all the mothers who have had to let their babies go. I sighed deeply, trying to release this grip of fear, “I don’t know if I can do this. This parenthood thing is going to be too hard.” Slade leaned his head down to my chest and said, “It’s going to be wonderful” and resumed watching the movie. It’s going to be wonderful.

And by the end of the movie I had come full circle. It became clear to me that our babies aren’t really ours; they never really belong to us. Ultimately, our babies belong to another mother who calls each one of us back to her one way or another. Letting go, giving up control, over and over again. We are children of the universe; we belong to no one but her. Deep breath, feel the extent to which we connect. This whole deal is about leaning into the experience, pushing up against life and feeling it intensely. And I’m reminded of a quote from Dawna Markova: “I will not live an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me.” Let the heart break wide open …

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