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All That You Can't Leave Behind...

Happy Christmas Eve!


I hope that all of you are surrounded in love regardless of whether that is in person or, this year, it has to be from a distance. Our tender loving hearts are the best things about us and the only thing that we will ever truly own. May yours overflow this year even if you stand in front of your tree alone.


The title of today’s blog is from a U2 album. I was hiking the other day and a song from the album came on. I have heard the song many times but I never really listened to the words...but this time, they hit me square. Me being me, I then listened to it for the rest of the hike, deciphering and decoding meaning into my life. It was helpful as I was stuck with a lot that I couldn’t leave behind...


The song is Walk On. And I was, in fact, at that very moment walking on. Hiking for me is moving my pain about, through me, and onto the landscape that surrounds me, coloring the dust, the flora that I walk amongst. Pain and grief are two things that I have a hard time containing. I am getting clearer with the idea that I have spent my life running from sad. Sad being the impetuous for me to launch myself into something or someone else so that I can distract, derail, avoid or ignore all that I can’t leave behind.


At 51, it seems almost impossible to be where I am...seeing myself in this new light that appears way harder than I thought it would be. It is hard at middle life to look back at all I have dragged along with me, only to see that my failure to release along the way has burdened me so. That all of the baggage I have dragged to my current life, is this idea that I should avoid and in fact hide from the sad and heartbreaking things in this life.


Life is heartbreaking. So many disappointments, so many plans unrealized. So many detours and side roads that seemingly led nowhere. Love unrequited and love actualized but cut short.

As 2020 draws to a close and I am given 10 days of down time with my kids off with their dad, I am faced with all that I can’t leave behind...while being compelled to look at it all in a new way.


I am not sure if I can make sense out it. Perhaps it is too fresh, and new and writing premature. However, I feel compelled to try...


It struck me recently that I was not really happy. Instead of happiness, what was in its place was an almost relentless drive to move and manipulate and force the conditions in my life. Compulsive action, obsessive action to create circumstances in my life that I like. More of things that I wanted and less of things that I did not...and it struck me that I have always lived this way. Pushing and driving and forcing...but to what end?


It came to me the other day that perhaps I am doing it all wrong...perhaps there is more to life than getting what you want, or what you think you want. And perhaps moving from a life of acquisition and achievement, means that you have to leave a lot of stuff behind.


What has resulted is a feeling of grief...I do not enjoy this incessant acquiring but it has become the only way I know to live...so the thought, the idea that perhaps I can live differently, makes for some hard terms...what would my life look like if I just decided to leave behind all the stuff that I have not been able to thus far?


Where would I begin?


What would be the first to go?


Could I actually leave it all behind by just walking on?


Could one, hike their way into a new way of living?


Literally walking on...


And I realized that I have been doing that for the past three years. Walking out my old ideas and issues all in an effort to bring about an emptiness in my life so that there is space to be refilled.

Not me deciding what has to go, but just allowing all that leaves to just be gone. Not trying to claw it back or clutch it tightly to my chest...but allowing all that enter my life to rise to meet me where I am or pass on through and be left.


It has occurred to me that all that I can’t leave behind is really just one thing...one thing that drags the rest behind...my will. It has been my will that I can’t leave behind. This fundamental and pervasive idea that my life should be different, I should be different than I am. I should be...


So I think, just maybe, all that I have been unwilling to leave behind begins with the idea that I have any idea at all of how this life should go. That I am promised a life of a loving partnership. That I am promised a life of fun and excitement. That I am promised a life free from grief.


What I have learned is that you can walk on and you can leave stuff behind but that it will leave when it is time and not one second before...there is no way to out run grief or pain or loss or a broken heart. You can only allow it to teach you what it will.


All that I have been unable to leave behind shows me where I am and why I am here. It is always my decision to leave it all behind...except I am not equally afforded the ability to change how I feel, not really. If I am sad or depressed or some other downward emotion that I do not like, I can run for decades, evading, eloping and squandering all that this might teach me. Or I can confront all that I have been unwilling to leave behind and allow it to break me into however many pieces it will. And then, after the feeling is done, I can walk on...and only then will the walking do me any good at all.

So perhaps, this song, its message, gives me a backstory. A historic tapestry that I mostly view from the backside - seeing all the tangle of thread and knots of floss. It makes no sense from my vantage point...just a jangle of knotted thread with only a bare outline of the story. And it feels like I have been reading tea leaves from the backside, never bothering to walk around to the front, to see the more polished product or even trusting that there was another way to view this tapestry of my life...


What I have learned is that it is painful to walk around, so much fear surrounding my change of perspective. So much accountability to be had if I really take responsibility for all that I have been unwilling to leave behind...


But once I summon the courage to walk around to the front and view the cleaner version of my story, I can see that all that I have refused to leave behind was really gone a long time ago...it was only my thinking that remained unchanged. And I can see that the walking on, does grant me access to parts and places of myself previously unexplored...and I can in fact, stay safe tonight...with all that I make, with all that I break, with all that build, with all that I fashion...I can leave it all behind. Abandoning all that I think I know for an open mind that can wait for what comes next...untethered to my previous commitment to edge out all that feels dark or hard or bitter. Instead, I can walk on with it regardless of my pain threshold or my sincere desire for things to be different. I can walk on, allowing all that should have been left behind to sag into the landscape of my hike...barely skimming my ankles as I pass. Finally.

And love is not the easy thing

The only baggage that you can bring...

And love is not the easy thing

The only baggage you can bring

Is all that you can't leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart

And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off

And if your glass heart should crack

And for a second you turn back

Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on

What you got they can't steal it

No, they can't even feel it

Walk on, walk on

Stay safe tonight

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been

A place that has to be believed to be seen

You could have flown away

A singing bird in an open cage

Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on

What you've got they can't deny it

Can't sell it, or buy it

Walk on, walk on

Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches

And your heart it breaks

And you can only take so much

Walk on

walk on

Home, hard to know what it is if you've never had one

Home, I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home

That's where the hurt is

And I know it aches

And your heart it breaks

And you can only take so much

Walk on

Leave it behind

You've got to leave it behind

All that you fashion

All that you make

All that you build

All that you break

All that you measure

All that you steal

All this you feel

All that you reason

All that you care (It's only time)

And I'll never fill up all my mind

All that you sense

All that you speak

All you dress up

And all that you scheme

All you create

All that you wreck

All that you hate

You can, really, just leave it all behind...littered on the trail of your life. To be revisited as your trajectory loops you back around...while you walk on...




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