I have a confession to make. I hear gongs.
Bells and gongs are used in many cultures for many different purposes. People the world over use them to create a centered mind, clear negative energy and to celebrate special moments.
These are not the gongs I hear.
I started really noticing the gongs during my divorce. It was a sad and scary time and I felt like the world was off axis. Enter Mr. T.
We had known each other very slightly in high school and had become friends through social media much later in life. When we both found ourselves divorcing, we became closer, texting all the time, sharing the common experience. We hadn't seen each other in 17 years the day we agreed to meet for breakfast. I arrived to his house to pick him up but instead of getting into the car, he made me get out and hug him. I instantly recalled the moment we had hugged at a funeral 17 years before. It felt like home both times.
Later on, we had our first outing with all of the kids together that culminated in preparing a meal for them. While working in the kitchen, we bumped into each other and locked eyes. It was as if we had bumped into each other while feeding our kids a million times.
On a lark, we built a firepit in what was then Mr. T's backyard and camped out on the deck with the kids. I dozed off to the sounds of Bright Eyes singing about blankets on the beach, gazing at five pairs of feet stretched out to the warmth and glow of the fire.
The gong is healing and rejuvenating and reassuring. It's like for a moment, I can hear the perfect resonance of the universe and rest comfortable in the fact that for that instant, I am part of it, experiencing and creating a small piece of perfection. The gong sustains.
One of the hardest parts of this new normal, this enormous family of blended origin, melded experience and newfound tradition, is the cosmic juggling act that ensues. There are countless needs, wishes, desires and interests of our children, not to mention ourselves. We both have demanding careers. We have extended families that need our support and attention. It's complex and I can't help but feel scared sometimes, worrying that the Rockstar isn't eating enough vegetables or that Triple Threat is trying to grow up too fast or that there might be a load of laundry sitting in the washer smelly for days.
Friday night, I heard something I have never heard before. It was the loudest gong I have ever heard, accompanied by an angel choir. It shook me to my core.
It had been a terrible week, stressful, angstful, exhausting, draining. By the time Friday arrived, I felt like hamburger. It was supposed to rain lightly but we decided to move forward with our plan to accommodate the kids' frequent requests to camp out in our back yard. We had not had an opportunity to do that since we moved to Shangri La House last August.
We built two campfires in firepits on the patio and brought out futon mattresses and sleeping bags. Triple Threat and I created a tent city from our oversized patio umbrella and a tarp. We roasted hot dogs, and made s'mores and then, on her own accord, Triple Threat brought out the guitar and led the other kids in the singing of campfire songs before we all settled into our sleeping bags to watch Wreckit Ralph on a laptop under the tent.
It's been a rough 2013 for us. Lots of illness, injury and drama. Some weeks, it seems like it comes at you from all sides and you end your days feeling like a lump of well-pulled taffy. I've had times like these before and I know they are seasons that shall pass, too. These are the times we need the gong even more. We need to be re-centered and reminded of the beauty that surrounds us, re-focused on that which really matters, and reassured that we're on the right path.