Tag Archives: moving-on


Ghosts are intriguing. The livings’ concern for the dead ranges from the childish, playful notion of white sheets with eyes that glide through walls to the hair-prickling fear of the paranormal. Do they exist? Can the living see them? Can the living talk to them? Why do they exist? Are they trapped until revenge for crimes committed against them in life is achieved? Are they on earth to warn the living? Warn us of what? Should we listen? Should we worry about vengeance taken against us? Ghosts are so fascinating that every culture has some lore, tradition, or taboo associated with them.

Ghosts are lasting. Unlike giant ants, rabid birds, and green Martians, ghosts still hold our cultural imagination. However more troubling is the double entendre here. The identity of a ghost is lasting: the un-dying. They do not go away.

Hauntings harm both the living and the dead because both parties remain trapped. It is real easy to tell someone that they need to just let go of the past. ‘Let go of the relationship, he left you and you need to move on.’ ‘Let go of the abuse you went through, it is over and you need to move on.’ ‘Let go of the ideas you had about how your life should look, the reality is now and you need to move with it.’ But why does no one suggest that the ghost be the one to move on? After all, it is the ghost who is holding on to something when clearly he should just die. Yet they are stuck in an ephemeral state, and keep the humans they haunt trapped in a cycle of replaying what could have or should have been over and over and over.

Ghosts are sneaky in the way they reside in smells, songs, and settings. Although you walked out on me, ending the plans for our future like a flame being snuffed out, the smoke of that fire constantly comes back to cloud my vision and sting my eyes. Because every time I smell that soft sticky sweet smell of your perfume I can feel you holding my hand and listening to the secret of my goals.

How I wish you would just die. But like the autumn leaves, you cling to the now dead branch and flash colors so loud that you cannot be ignored. At least the impending winter is a guarantee death to the fall leaves. The cold will soon settle heavy upon the fragile bodies of a no longer living, but not quite dead leaf, and force it to the ground where it will find the peace of decay. You? You just linger on, holding me captive by your random visits. It would be a lot easier to “just move on” if the hopes and dreams and passions and pains would die, if the ghost of what once was would die.

How do you kill a ghost? The person has already been killed once. You already died once before. I had to learn to live without you, so why are you back? I’ve never felt so wicked as the day I approached you and asked you to die again. “I thought you’d be happy to see me again,” you said. Well I thought I would be too, but your presence comes with a tether to old memories and dreams that I don’t want.

At first they told me to try yoga and herbal tea before bed. This was a nice distraction, but no solution. When you started showing up consistently, they told me to try prayer. This was as effective as a cardigan in a snowstorm. Now they say I need to ignore your sightings, and put the thoughts of you out of my mind. I have to wonder if it really is up to the living to get on with things. Why is no one telling you to let go of me?

Is this my old chain? / My mind is away,

How long have you been gone?

And the cold winter’s aged / The soft of your face.

And I can’t move on. Linger on / Linger on / Linger on

No I can’t move on.

-“Autumn Trees”, Milo Greene

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On her blog, Undecided, Shannon Kelley states: “Choosing one thing means you’re killing the possibility of having the other. And when we’re raised on the idea that anything’s possible–and every option is available–we see choosing anything as settling. And, of course, it is–it’s settling for something less than everything.”

Which is true. Saying yes to one thing means saying to no to an unknown number of other things. This would not be a problem if we knew for sure what we wanted out of life. When you know what specific job, house, and friends you want it is easy to go and find them and make them yours.

But as Americans we have been told that we can have and be anything we want. So small children say they want to grow up and be soccer balls, birthday cakes, or hippopotamuses; and we laugh, say how cute, and know they will one day grow out of that belief. But these are logical decisions. They can be anything. No exclusions. We told them so. And then our young adults leave the confines of the education system and fall into depression or ADD because they can’t decide what job to focus on, what city to live in, and whether spending every day with the same group of people is worth their time.

These are worthwhile considerations. The world is a big place. There are lots of great ways to live.

I’ve been laughed at (in a kind-of, ‘oh how adorable’ sort of laugh) for wanting to do everything. I honest to God would enjoy a fulfilled, happy life as a bed and breakfast owner in Santa Fe, as a rancher in Montana, or as a shepherd in New Zealand. Those jobs would be AWESOME.

But you know, after I denied my humanity by dreaming my life away in high school, and after succumbing to anger at my humanity in college, and after the bargaining I did with the universe, and after the depression I found myself sucked into, I have no choice left but to accept. Accept the fact that we can’t do anything, be anything, have everything.

I have one life, one chance, one story. I can have a long story, yes. But only one. And while a choice to take a job, or rent a house, or even, gasp, get married means that there are other jobs, homes, or possible life endings that I cannot experience, I have to offer myself some grace and allow that possibility. As I’ve noted before, all we truly have in our lives is the opportunity to choose.

Yes, settling is a terrible word. However, living  life in the world of what-ifs and dreams is a worse fate. And keeping options open unfairly strings along all the bosses, girlfriends, landlords, boyfriends, and adventures that we can’t commit to.

You can’t have it all, but you can make a choice. And live the hell out of the choice you make.


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Seeking the Source

Seeking reconciliation, peace, justice, or any type of “healing” suggests a brokenness, tear, or conflict. So what happens when you can’t figure out what is wrong, and it is obvious that something hurts? How do you heal an undefined wound?

We tend to blame our pain, emptiness, confusion, whatever, on a recent break-up, a current bad—abusive or too superficial—relationship, or job loss. Therapists like to blame our upbringings and parents. Parents like to blame us for being unmotivated or irresponsible.

So we turn to alcohol, serial dating, food, movies, music, exercise, church, change of scenery for relief and sometimes answers. And it doesn’t work; the pain is still there.

Sometimes the wounds heal leaving scars. And we celebrate the scar as a sign of survival. Proof that we are strong enough, wise enough, old enough, brave enough, to succeed. We look to our scars as reminders to not let the same thing happen twice. Yet there will be a new pain. If not tomorrow, it will hit someday with a force so powerful we lie in bed all day listening to songs of heartbreak and wondering why life is so unsatisfying.

I have to believe there is an answer somewhere. I have found some answers—to the breaks that have a source. Conflicts ending in loss of/abuse to personal property or threat to/loss of personal safety arrive at a restorative justice circle if they are lucky, or show up in our court systems and one side takes responsibility while the other receives compensation for the pain. Conflicts involving a loss of self-esteem end in alcohol or over-drive sociability. But for the brokenness that stems from nowhere in particular, from what I can only attribute to the curse of humanity? I have no answers.

This is what kills me. This is what makes the brokenness so unbearable. If only we knew why, then we would be able to address it and make it stop. Without that knowledge, we have to accept it, and live on despite it. True strength I guess is not surviving, but thriving in the midst of brokenness.

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New Beginnings

We all want a fresh start. Either the year was hard, the semester was hard, or the holidays were hard. My father’s company died 10 months ago, and he has yet to find another job. He has 30 years of experience in his field. Ashley moved home immediately following graduation and has been working at a coffee shop for 9 months because all the recently laid-off or unemployed executives have the entry-level jobs, and what else is a coveted “well-rounded” education for? Georgia scored the coveted paid internship, but is also at the beck and call of a high-powered woman who expects the world to revolve around her. So while the group of friends is out commiserating together, Georgia is back in her office retrieving the left behind cell-phone for delivery to the boss’ home. With a liberal arts degree, what choice does Tim have but to go back to school after already working his ass off for said degree? And after losing her best friend to cancer, Lindsey wants nothing more than for the holidays to end so she doesn’t have to constantly be reminded of the missing loved one.

While I have changed the majority of names above, at least one of their stories will resonate with every single reader. So we look to the new year for change, and hope that it brings better luck. Except we are actually half-way through the academic year (congratulations students), a fourth of the way through a fiscal year (how’s your portfolio doing?), at the end of the Chinese year based on the lunar calendar, and only at the beginning of the solar year as according to the Gregorian Calendar. Therefore expectations are that because the earth has successfully completed a full rotation around the sun, our lives have the potential to start anew. And so according to some tradition of our species, the 6 billion intelligent animals on the successfully spinning rock of space vow to themselves that their lives will be different on this next rotation. We make plans to uphold some obligation that has the potential of making us happier, or more successful, or appear to be a better functioning human.

If there is one thing that 2011 taught me, it’s that the only thing I will ever be successful at is the thing my heart actually wants. I go to school because that’s what grown people tell me is required of becoming grown up. I look for paying jobs because that’s what society tells me stable, mature people do. My friends get married because that’s what our culture says is the most secure thing for a woman to do. I travel because that is what I love to do. I write because I enjoy it. While these endeavors do not necessarily lead to the kind of success that society requires of its adults, I am successful in every one of these attempts because I am motivated to do what I enjoy.

What would it look like to choose a resolution that corresponds to an actual personal desire? And if we are going to gain inspiration and seek new beginnings with the patterns of earth’s rotation, why not look to every rotation, every reappearance of the sun on the horizon?

Every. Single. Day.

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Welcome Fall

In the northern hemisphere, golden wheat waves across fields; apples, pumpkins and squash, and corn appear in our diet with increasing frequency; people celebrate the existence of beer.  A chill is on the air, cooling down the night and morning, and the earth is showing signs of death.  Multicolored leaves fall to the ground where they lay in dried out piles.  The dry earth hardens up and stops nourishing the crops that did not want to leave the ground.  Brown grasses fold over in dead stalks.  Soon the land will be a bleak extension of grey.

However, there is beauty in this death.

Different colors illuminate the landscape.  Smells of warmth, and good food cooking, waft through the cold air.  Scarves and jackets make their way back out of boxes and hidden spaces in cramped closets.  Summer play dies and makes room for new teachers, new friends, new books, and new experiences.  And pretty soon, the dead landscape will enable sight clear out to the horizon.  Because of this death we can see where we are headed.


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