Listening, Letting Go and Letting Lucky Find You
I was just leaving the Constance Brown Hearing Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Yes, I do have hearing loss, and yes, I remain too vain to wear aids. I heard my iPhone ring and I listened—it was my sister, Carol. "Paul, please come over. Mom is failing and is asking for her baby."
That began an eight day journey. The intimacy of speaking, singing, praying, and sharing with the woman whose faith, love, values, force of will, temper, strength and weaknesses would so shape mine. Although not always in the same direction.
I was given the honor of returning so much of the love that she had given to me—giving her meds (morphine), stroking her hair, wiping her brow, caressing her arm, as I told her my stories. It was part of a long series of lessons in letting go—letting go of thoughts that I had allowed to quicken into beliefs, letting go of those things that at one time seemed so important. On the day of Mom's funeral, my wife of 32 years, a partner in so many senses of the word—business, home, family—died.
I traveled down a path that included the sudden death of a best friend and mentor, the loss of a substantial amount of income when an employer's business evaporated, compounded by promises left unkept when my boss checked into a hotel and checked out of this life. And that was just the start of the loss of a well-defined, well-planned life. There is an old saying, "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." I'm sure God found me to be quite the comedian.
All these events conspired to bring me where I am in this moment and this time we call today. A day when I'm labeled "lucky." A newly-wed. Healthy. Doing what I love, in a place that I love. I moved on in the most literal sense of the phrase. I left the familiar place where I was born, raised and raised a family of my own, and moved to the most exciting, most vibrant, most wonderful city in the world where my new home faced the most beautiful body of water in the world. I had sold everything that I owned and gave away the rest. When I moved to the condo next to Soldier Field in Chicago, everything I held on to fit into my car along with my constant companion, Molly, the 15-year-old deaf, nearly blind and gimping golden retriever. I also brought the beginning of a new relationship with April.
The signs had been everywhere that it was time for a change and the only way to define that change was to let go and listen. In that listening, miracles happened. Lucky happened. Lucky in this economy to sell my home in two weeks. Lucky to listen and follow the voice that said "start over." I was lucky to learn that the less I need, the richer I am.
After a year, I would move to Grand Rapids. By that time I had let go of the car too. I think Molly must have known I was okay on my own now and I had to let her go as well. She was in pain and the vet gave no hope for another outcome.
I was lucky to choose the right attitude. Lucky to choose peace over material things. Lucky to learn that everything I need is in this moment. Lucky to listen. Even if I'm hard of hearing.