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Thriving in the Middle

It’s this time of year when everything seems to shift. School-age children are making sure they get their full summer vacation, filling the parks and sidewalks and driveway basketball courts. Daylight is sneaking away to whatever corner of the world it hides in over the winter. The damp grass clings to my shoes with a little chill as I walk across the yard. I can practically smell the pumpkin spice lattes as I drive past Caribou Coffee.

In the garden, it’s a paradox. The rampant rhythm of harvest continues to fill basket after basket. Even as I load my arms and car and every canning jar in a 10 mile radius, some of those luscious summer leaves begin to fade. As tomatoes turn their glorious red (and yellow and orange and purple), raspberries up give their last fruits of the season. Beautiful squash foliage succumbs to the damp and humid end of summer. The blooms I planted months ago, go out with a hurrah in celebration of a successful season.

Maybe it’s age or maybe it’s all this time spent in an outdoor setting. But I am starting to gain an appreciation for this juxtaposed existence. There is something completely vitalizing about this fullness of what is and acceptance of what is to come. There’s no hesitation. No mournful resistance of what fruit hasn’t flowered yet. It’s a passionate offering of everything possible, while remaining true to the greater picture.

In my studies of Henry David Thoreau, I came across a passage in Walden (1854) that has stayed with me for years: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

These words resonate so deeply with my own desires to live as fully as possible. To move forward memorably. To end my existence on earth with something, simply, more. But as I reflect on this current season, as I find myself in the midst of wild exuberance and peaceful submission, I think that it is not just about searching and striving. It’s not just making the most of every single moment. It's not just leaving a mark. It’s also acceptance. It’s dreaming with a foundation of what is and what was. It’s learning to appreciate the in-betweens and the ends-of. It’s remembering that each lovely, life-giving breath comes to a close. And, gratefully, leaves space for a new breath to begin.

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