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[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”16″ align=”left”]Threshold: 1) the sill of a doorway; 2) the entrance to a house or building; 3) any place of entering or beginning; 4) the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect. – Dictionary.com[/mk_blockquote]
I am fortunate to have a dear friend who is several steps ahead of me in the journey of life. Her perspective on my experiences is always eye-opening, colored as it is by the wisdom of hindsight. As I described the emotions of watching my oldest child’s senior year of high school draw to a close, of celebrating the young man that he is and of mourning (albeit prematurely) the end of his constant presence in our home, she smiled at me.
“You are on yet another threshold, aren’t you?”
Nodding tearfully, I visualized my son walking across the threshold of our home as he leaves for college. In my heart, this threshold felt very much like an exit. But as we talked, my friend kept mentioning beginnings – not just my son’s but my own. In my emotional state, her view of things was much more appealing than mine, and I decided to go home and look it up. Lo and behold, you’ll notice in each of the definitions of threshold listed on Dictionary.com that there is no mention of ending or leaving. Rather, the definitions mention entering, beginning and producing change.
Sure, to enter into something or someplace new can be a little nerve wracking. To face change – great or small – can leave you wondering and maybe worrying a little bit. But, when you remind yourself that this is a beginning rather than an end, a threshold is an exciting thing. Nerves and worries shrink in the light of the possibility and hope that comes with any fresh start.
For me, the key to successfully navigating any threshold is to take things one step at a time. It’s when I allow my mind to shoot ahead that I tend to get emotional and tighten my grip on what is. On my yoga mat, when I allow my mind to drift ahead to long list of postures that lies ahead of me I often feel daunted and am tempted to “cheat” by cutting things short. When I maintain my focus on the breath I’m breathing and the posture I’m in, my practice feels manageable. I’m able to pour myself fully into each step along my way. Similarly, off my mat, when I take things a step at a time, I’m better able to stay opened-minded and open-handed as some things fade away and others spring to light.
At my current threshold, when I allow my focus to slip ahead to the day we move my son out of his bedroom down the hall from mine and into his dorm room miles away, I find myself clinging desperately to memories of the little boy he hasn’t been in years – to bath times and bedtimes, to afternoons at playgrounds, to mornings tearing up and down the driveway as we waited together for the bus, and to evenings cuddled up together with Harry Potter.
When I center myself again and take things a step at a time, I slip back into a place of wonder at the independent, self-sufficient, interesting and caring young man that the little boy of mind has become. Our bedtime rituals have certainly changed. He now stays up later than I do almost every single night – and quite capably closes up the house and turns off the lights for me. We haven’t spent the afternoon on a playground in years, but I have been blessed to share countless hours with him and his friends on the sidelines of his games. Mornings on the bus stop simply morphed into mornings in the car as I drove him to school. And while reading together has come to an end, I love the fact that he is recommending as many books to me as I am to him. Sharing our thoughts about these books after we’ve read them often feels as cozy as reading together once did.
Which is all to say that each of the many thresholds he and I have already crossed together has led to growth, change and even more possibility – both for him and for me. Each step I’ve taken as his mom has led to more joy in our relationship. Each threshold we’ve crossed has made me even prouder of the person he is becoming. But the most surprising aspect of each of these thresholds is the expansive feeling I’ve gained. As he’s grown and stretched into a young man, he’s needed me less. Rather than leaving me sad and grieving, this has enabled me to pour more of myself into my own passions. It’s allowed me to grow and stretch further into the woman I’m becoming.
So, while you may catch me with tears in my eyes over the next few weeks as I look back on the journey that has led us to this threshold, know that deep inside I am simply preparing to step with my son across this next threshold. Looking back, after all, is a powerful and necessary way to notice and celebrate how very far one has come. Once we’ve spent a little while looking back, I know that we will naturally turn our sights to what lies ahead – and step by step we will both enter another new beginning.
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