Everything can change in a moment. Ranching you learn firsthand that we have little control over the outer weather patterns as we make our way through the landscape of a life. We live in a whirlwind of change and change continually lives within us. Life is always changing and we are continually changing with it.
In the last few months my entire life has been turned upside down like a tornado coming through it flinging different aspects of my life in a variety of different directions. I have truly experienced a vast amount of change in a short period of time – from calving in blizzard conditions in April; calving, job hunting (because the ranch I was working on in Montana lost their lease), graduating and marrying my son off, falling head over heels in love myself, and moving to a new job on a ranch in northwestern South Dakota in May; branding, being interviewed by French reporters for Marie Claire Magazine and sending my son off to Army boot camp in June; to haying, chopping silage with South Africans and being diagnosed with breast cancer in July. In three months time everything in my life has completely changed offering much “grist for the mill” in blog posts to yet share.
With each change we are given a choice, go with the flow or fight against the currents. After all these years of being changed by loss and love and life itself, I still resist the forces of change in my life, attached to the way things are no matter how ridiculous or destructive they have become. I think it’s instinctual to tighten our grip when everything feels out of control. Going with the flow can seem frightening, it’s a leap of faith because we don’t know where the currents may take us and yet resisting is even more exhausting as we struggle to try to stay in the same place. Yet with each new change, time and time, again I am reminded that life is uncertain and that the goal is not to become more certain but to have faith, surrender to God and allow his will to unfold.
Cancer is one of those rare life changing events that Ram Dass would call “fierce grace”, when you bear the unbearable and something within you dies. That something can either be my own ego and stubborn pride and I can turn this life changing event of misfortune into insight and healing; or I can choose to let fear take over killing the more loving and compassionate part of me and instead become bitter, more reactive, and cynical. I’m striving for fierce grace!
We can become the masters of our own inner landscape and use what happens on the outside to change the way we function on the inside. As a new found South African friend has reminded me – being happy is a choice and only you can make and live that decision. Change and loss may still knock us off the horse, but soon we are back in the saddle, stronger and wiser than ever, with a greater insight, humility, strength of character and a deeper faith in the meaningfulness of life.
I look forward to having more time to write in the near future, catching you up on all the recent changes and sharing this journey with you, as often telling our story helps us feel connected to others as we go through difficult times. When we can share with fellow wayfarers, sharing our trials and revelations and listening to theirs, our struggles seem less like personal vendettas and more like myths in the making.