Learning To Walk

First Steps

Learning To Walk

I learned today that two dear friends, married for decades, are separating and may well divorce for reasons that sound both contemporarily complex and ages-old simple. These friends have grown children and are beloved within our community as individuals and as a couple. A great many people will be affected by their change.

Yet life is change. Growth, death, all is relentlessly in flux.

Even positive development comes at a price. For one thing, development’s not smooth and linear, a nice straight line heading upward like this: /.

Instead, it’s a series of bumps, like a set of stairs – for which my computer has no equivalent symbol, but use your imagination – a succession of ga-bonk, ga-bonk as we grow. The child who walks has first learned to fall and pick herself up, over and over until she learns balance. She propels herself up those metaphor stairs – ga-bonk, ga-bonk – until she gets it, too young and motivated to be afraid, lucky thing.

Metaphorically, learning to walk isn’t comfortable, it’s not easy, and it can be downright terrifying. Deer in the headlights, is what it is.

Given six or twelve months, however, fear recedes. The task seems less like a juggernaut, more a chain of smaller, discrete steps. Comfort grows. We may long for the ease of the past, but the unknown future has become our present, and, you know, it’s not half-bad.

In this time of sorrow and grief – a separation or divorce is like a death, and must be properly mourned – my friends labor toward mutual kindness. They still care about each other as people. They recognize that the years ahead hold joys they’ll share as parents and grandparents. Yet they’re learning to walk different paths, at separate rates, toward dissimilar goals.

I have no doubt that while some days are nearly effortless, others feel like a slice of hell.

Ga-bonk, ga-bonk, ga-bonk.

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