Not too long ago I walked a labyrinth. You might have seen one or even walked one before. Maybe you know that a labyrinth is meant as a walking meditation about the journey of life. It’s calming, intuitive, peaceful. I walked several in France last month, but the one I did in Portland was part of a workshop called Labyrinth Walk with Grief and the walk was a healing ceremony meant to help us heal and grow through our grief.
As I entered the labyrinth I figured I’d meditate on the people I’d lost. But that’s not what happened.
To my surprise, something else came up: I found myself overwhelmed with grief for my lost youth. So overwhelmed, that I cried.
Here’s what came up for me:
Even as it brings gifts, aging brings many losses. Oh, I don’t mean supple skin and slim waistlines. Those are the superficial things. I don’t care about that. I thought about the loss of innocence, health, people, pets and even some functionality. Life as we knew it is gone and something new takes its place. Something quite different.
As I walked, I thought, I miss my youth and a flood of tears began.
And it’s true. I do. When I look at young couples with new babies I’m struck by the thought that they’re at the beginning of their adult life. With decades ahead of them, their children will grow up and have children of their own. Time will pass and one day they, too, will be old. When they get there, like me, they’ll think it passed in the blink of an eye. But today, they’re just starting out on that journey, like I once did.
I look at my young nephews just starting out in their careers and I get the same sad and nostalgic feeling.
The truth is that I’d like to be young again and do it all over again. Exactly as it was.
Has my life been perfect? Absolutely not. I’ve had heartbreaks and tragedies and challenges. I’ve been down so low it seemed impossible to get back up. But get up I did because there was no one to do that for me. And I’d do it all again just the way it unfolded, all the bad stuff and all the good. Because I get what the lessons were meant to be and I emerged on the other side whole.
And because I love life and I loved being young. My tears on that meditative walk were because I’m conscious now that there are more years behind me than there are ahead. I grieve the lost sense of possibility, of an unlimited future laid out before me.
I hadn’t realized how much I grieve my lost youth until I walked that labyrinth. I’m grateful for that experience and the ability to get in touch with my grief, really feel it and, I hope, begin to walk through it psychologically, too. Because one of the big lessons I’ve learned in this life is to not fear grief: to embrace it, feel it and deal with it.
And that, of course, is what A Healing Spirit is all about.