"Honour the gap between
no longer and not yet" Nancy Levin"
This quote feels very appropriate for the time in which we live right now but has also been a
particular encouragement & challenge to me over the past year or so. The quote was gifted to me
by my Mentor, Flo, in one of our Zoom conversations. She is now 94, still living independently,
with a little visiting support, & thriving. As an elderly extrovert who has always been her best self
while interacting with people, she took the invitation of the Pandemic & lockdown to develop
her relationship with silence & solitude. She reports that she now feels the most peaceful &
content she ever has.
Her life & how she inhabits it continues to be one of the most phenomenal examples of
growth and perseverance with dignity I have ever been blessed with having in my life
I realised that I hadn’t posted any blogs for over a year. Not that I haven’t’ been writing,
but my journey has been one mostly done quietly as I continue to navigate my relationship
with myself following my stroke
The quote spoke straight into the secrecy of the truth I had resisted.
In my work & self I realised how much I had been depending & relying on what was…
pre stroke…. attempting to take confidence & reassurance from past accomplishments or abilities
When something major changes in our lives, returning to what we knew or was once
familiar can be fraught with anxiety & uncertainty.
Each new day brings me a ‘first’, a task or scenario I haven’t encountered since my
pre-stroke life. Am I able to inhabit that space? Who is the one who now shows up
there & in that way?
I discovered the murky waters of wondering ‘who am I now?’
Having spent decades very immersed in my journey to myself & self-discovery and
feeling that I knew who that was, I now had to face the question again, & as at any
other time when we engage with that question, only I could make the journey,
whether I really wanted to have to, or not.
My capacity to live within the space of not knowing was tested more profoundly
than at any other time in my life.
What did it take to step into an experience once familiar as if for the first time?
I discovered the humility & open vulnerability of the ‘gap between ‘no longer’ & ‘not yet….’
Driving again after many months was a great example of that lonely territory.
I have an advanced driver qualification. Yet when I got into the car for the first-time post stroke…
I had to remember & adapt if needed. It was both new & not.
The separation imposed by Lockdown gave me a reason to inhabit a withdrawn space
without having to face integration….
My confidence in past abilities cannot sustain me now, nor should it. I am new every day,
as are you. My life itself forbids me to forget that.
My left hand which although it works perfectly now has changed sensation,
reminds me with gentle chiding that I can’t treat myself as I once did. I can’t
take myself for granted, relying on strength & the predictability of my body
I survived, and it has taken me a while to thrive… I know from my work & friendships
that many of us are struggling & waiting for a world where there is at least something
recognisable & redeeming, some F2F contact with other
humans & somewhere to quite literally go, to come home to ourselves again.
In a dream, I heard the words ‘An Amulet of Sorrow’
I wanted to discard it, until I discovered that I need to wear it with tender acceptance,
to make it my own until I no longer have need of it
My Dad died just after the first lockdown. His favourite poem: ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling,
which he quoted to me often, rang in my ears:
“If you can trust yourself….”
And so, when what is true is that I am the same AND I am different, I am walking
through shame & frustration towards new horizons where I find myself waiting there.
“I will begin anew with patience, observing things until I find the minute difference that
divides them from their significance of yesterday. There will be new words for the new story,
& it is essential to find them” Patrick Overton
I love to notice, & to wonder & to journal on the things I wonder about: as the poet David Whyte says ~to "overhear myself saying things I didn't know I knew"