February 18, 2019
“You see, the what ifs are as boundless as the stars.”
― Sally Gardner, Maggot Moon
What if you just walked out of your life? Literally, right now, just got up and started walking, with no destination in mind? That’s what’s unfolding in a delightful book I am re-reading: The Elegant Gathering of White Snows by Kris Radish. It’s about a group of women who gather for a weekly book club, which translates into deep sharing and lots of wine. On one particular evening, the women end up in a cuddle puddle on the floor of the kitchen, comforting a distraught sister of the soul.
The woman in despair says, between sniffles, “Sometimes I just want to walk out of my life.” Another woman sighs, “Me, too.” Several “Me, too’s” echo the sentiment. Together they say, “Let’s do it.”
So, this group of eight women, of various ages, body types and lifestyles, start walking. And walking, and walking, and walking. As they walk, they talk, disclosing dark secrets that have, until the walking, been simmering on the back burners of their soul.
Soon their walking is all over the local news. Strangers meet them on the road with cheers of gratitude and delicious food—and wine. Plenty of wine. This brings national attention. Some people offer overnight accommodations, free of charge. The conversations between the walkers deepen. The tears flow yet the smile never leaves a face. Suddenly their walking becomes international news. These eight women inspire women all over the world to do the same. Unhappy with your life? Then just walk out of it.
What a bold endeavor! I’m not sure I would have that level of courage. Yet the story has reminded me of the times when I have walked out of my life. When I answered the voice that said, “What if I stepped away from unhappiness and discontent, knowing that there was something greater Out There for me. And, each time, the outcome was better than I could have expected?”
A college friend said to me, “What if you moved to Portland with me?” I left Iowa in 1975 for greener and wetter pastures in Oregon. I had $300 in my pocket, no apartment, no job, just a desire to be somewhere else where the thermometer read -24. Pieces fell into place very quickly. Sometimes I wonder, what if I had stayed in Iowa?
I left a job in 1993 without a safety net. Single, alone, with a house payment. Yet my psyche and soul could no longer tolerate the destructive environment of that work place.
What if I had stayed with that job?
My husband and I left Portland two years ago for rural living outside McMinnville, Oregon. I remember thinking, how do I make friends at this stage of life? That didn’t take long. And still I wonder, what if I had stayed in Portland?
I can “what if” myself into a corner. What’s relevant to me is to reflect on the bold actions I’ve taken through my life, each time rewarded. To give myself a pat on the back for such boldness. “I did that!” It also occurs to me that every great endeavor in the history of the world started with a What If.
Today, I ask myself, and you: What has become intolerable in my life? What if I just stay and tolerated? Or, what if I made a bold change? Is there something calling to me that needs to move to the front burner? What if listened to the What If voice? Took a leap of faith? Trusted my intuition?
As expected, each walking woman in the book has some level of introspection and revelation. Some joyfully return to husbands. Some don’t. Some quit jobs to pursue a new career. Some awaken to stirrings they didn’t know they had, but now had to be pursued. One particular story is about a woman following the walkers on the news. Unbeknownst to them, she too walks out of her life in pursuit of a sunset that has called to her for 70 years. I can visualize her tears and her smile.
No more “what ifs.” The time is now, and we are the ones.
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking