This is the blessing that my father gives to my about-to-be fiance, a few days ago, in the hour before he proposes to me. It’s not flowery and it doesn’t seem to be particularly laden with wisdom or advice. However, when it’s relayed to me, I break down in tears of gratitude. My father is in the later stages of Alzheimers, seldom speaks, and when he does choose words, they are oftentimes nonsensical. I regret that although we often see my father and are around him, that my fiance and father never had the opportunity to have a conversation or to know one other. My fiance is sharing with my mother his plans to propose. My father, as always, sits by her side quietly, looking down. My mother wonders out loud if my fiance should ask my father what he thinks, a pretty fantastic, silly thought. And that’s when my father lifts his head and says, “Go Ahead.”
In these dark times fraught with global illness, isolation, and living in a cracked country that is capable at any point of shattering, it is hard to heed advice to Go Ahead. We are walking through the darkness without a clear path and every step forward is into the unknown. People all around me express fear and hopelessness. It’s not as easy as it seems to choose to Go Ahead.
I have agonized over choosing the unknown versus staying in the familiar. The outside world is a complicated place to be and I have a tranquil, quiet haven living in my house alone, a recent empty nester. I know that if I do not Go Ahead and remain where I am, that I can predict what my life will likely continue to look and feel like. I deeply appreciate my experience of calm and inner peace as I remember my journey leading up to the past few years. For more than a decade my daily experience of life was filled with stress and anxiety without an escape. My life now compared to my life then feels miraculous. So why would I take a risk of losing my cocoon?
I awaken one morning a few weeks ago desperately seeking clarity. On one hand I am completely in love and fantasize about being married and living happily ever after with my life partner and his family, and on the other hand I am panicked about jeopardizing my hard-earned, quiet life. I cannot figure out what I want to do about these conflicting thoughts. I turn on my phone and see a post on Facebook from a life coach to the rest of my life coaching school, wondering about exercises to do with clients who are making big choices such as getting married, buying houses, or getting divorced. Under the post there are a slew of responses by experienced, professional life coaches, with dozens of exercises to help gain clarity. I thank my higher power and over the course of the week I do every exercise and coach myself.
This is what I learn. If my relationship stays status quo, then I can count on having quiet times in my house. I can be in charge of my emotional state and I can have inner peace. But I will never have the opportunity to attain my true dream. I truly want to be married. I truly want to have this man next to me every morning and every night. I want this best friend of mine to process my day with me, to make me laugh, and to be available for a spontaneous walk. I want this particular human being to grow old with me, to care for me, and to be my family. And I want to be that person for him, as well. There will be risks involved. Human beings are complicated. Blending families is complicated. But I am ready to take the leap of faith.
I know today that taking a risk feels better to me than not having the chance of a significant opportunity. This has been a great cocoon that has allowed me to transform. The inner peace I have gained is permanently designed onto my butterfly wings. I can try something new and still be true to myself. I am choosing someone who values my own serenity as much as he values his own.
Yes, Dad, we will Go Ahead. Thank you for loving me so deeply to be able to access the validation I needed from you and assumed I could no longer receive. I am realizing that I deserve to have even my ultimate dreams come true and that the only one getting in my way was me. And now that I made the decision, now that I said, ‘Yes, I will marry you!”, the doubts have completely vanished and in their place is gratitude. It seems more than a fair trade to give up a life of quiet to know we will walk into all future unknowns and light up the darkness together.