The World Within

Much of my childhood was spent looking up at the sky, daydreaming, creating stories out of clouds. Books were everything. I couldn’t get enough. The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit led me to secret doors to secret pathways that uncovered secret worlds. I wanted magic. Engulfed in mystery, my imagination ran riot with intricate keys, whimsical creatures and places of escape. When the world didn’t make sense, when I didn’t make sense, there was a dazzling, mythical land waiting. Just for me.

One recent summer afternoon I stood in front of the bathroom mirror putting on mascara, brushing my hair, hurrying because “we’ve gotta go in 20 minutes.”

And I began to cry.

I don’t know why I’m crying.

I can’t stop.

Come on. Pull it together.

Pressing my hands to my face and squishing my eyeballs didn’t help. Red and puffy, my eyes were gargoyle slits.

I sat at the edge of my bed, heart pounding, tears streaming.

I am tired. So tired.

I abide by the philosophy of suck it up, keep going and you can do this. I’m a fighter!

Perseverance has served me well. But something was missing. Had been missing for a while. I couldn’t find that thing I could count on to continue, the ability to dig deep. It had been months of stress, little time alone and I was lost.

We live in a noisy, demanding world. Connection is at our fingertips, quick, efficient, I-can-find-anything, reach-anyone and finish with a well-placed emoji. The other side of all of that connection is that it can get heavy out there. It’s easy to feel small. We are brimming with information and things-to-do. Now that I’m a grownup with a family and a job and responsibilities and ​there is so much going on​ I need to make room for quiet, to find moments of stillness. To see beyond the tasks, the everyday and open my eyes to a little magic. That need may be greater now than when I was nine.

If there is a time to fight, work and be busy; there has to be a time to rest. There must be balance.

My family and I went to the beach a few weeks ago, soaking up one of the last few sunny days before the incessant rainy season. While the kids collected rocks and unearthed crabs, I sat on a log looking up at a cloud-streaked vast sky. I watched a heron in the churning blue-green ocean and relished the hour. It was dreamy. I don’t have special keys or access to an underworld. I wouldn’t mind a wise mythical creature offering guidance, but I can listen to that deep-down voice telling me to breathe and enjoy my surroundings. Engage in heartfelt conversations, a TV show that brings nostalgia and humanity (shout out to Stranger Things!), and can’t-put-down books. We are designed to feel; hungry for substance and meaning. When my mind nags and I’m adrift, I need a land of compassion and grace. A place where I’m not critical but aware. And open the door that leads to discovery. Dazzling, lifegiving discovery.

HEIDI CAVE is an author and speaker. She is devoted to coffee, books, TV and family; not necessarily in that order, but feels that all of these things are vital to a fulfilling life. You can find her memoir Fancy Feet: Turning my Tragedy into Hope in bookstores and Amazon.

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