Shortly after sunrise on a late spring morning, I walked to the end of the dock at my sister’s and brother-in-law’s house. After seeing the name of their boat, Next Chapter… , a heaviness of emotions consumed my chest.
The quiet activity of Cornfield Creek provided a perfect backdrop while I contemplated life and sipped my coffee in the comfort of an Adirondack deck chair.
I watched a bonded pair of osprey alternate nest and possible egg maintenance duties. A variety of birds serenaded me with the praises of a glorious new day. The gentle breeze that blew across the brackish water of a rising tide carried a subtle smell of salt water and soothed my emotions. I reveled and basked in Mother Nature’s abundance.
No social media. No text messages. No television. I was unplugged and enjoyed getting reacquainted with myself. Next chapter. What chapters have I finished? What chapter am I in now? Is it a comedy, tragedy, action, or science fiction? Sure feels like we are all stuck in a horror show right now!
My sister, Amy, joined me on the deck while the rest of our family remained asleep. We talked and reminisced and even shared a good gut-wrenching, waterfall-producing cry. We both needed those moments of sharing and caring before we headed out on the water for a day of relaxing fun-in-the-sun.
Throughout the weekend, I could never shake the words, Next Chapter. I grew frustrated because I realized that Cathy and I have been “reading and writing” the Same Chapter over and again for years. External circumstances have trapped us in a repetitive story. Sure, the script in the chapters of our lives (jobs, friends, dwellings, world events, etc.) may change slightly, but the plot is the same!
I am now home, in the relative comfort of my familiar life. Yet, I’m more uncomfortable than I have been in a very long time. This isn’t just the post mini vacation blues; it’s much stronger than a passing reverie.
Young adults are graduating high school and college and beginning the next chapters of their lives. Adults are changing jobs, getting divorced, getting married, starting families, etc. Our routines, policies, and practices are going to be changed and disrupted by the NEW standard operating procedures of our lives. Murder hornets, Covid-19 pandemic, bad cops vs. good cops, riots, protests, inept politicians, presidential race, and so on. We must be flexible and adapt to the certainty of change.
Our external world and circumstances will always change. The plot will always twist and turn. New characters will always be introduced and old ones will die. But somehow, the stories remain the same.
We all will continue to turn the pages in our life’s story. However, we have choices. Do we pick up the same book that has failed to engage, excite, and enrich us mentally, spiritually, and emotionally? Do we drone on and mindlessly advance through the page numbers? Or do we grow tired of the genre we have always chosen and make a different selection.
Me? I will follow the guidance of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Toni Morrison. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
So, thank you Cornfield Creek, the Magothy River, and the Chesapeake Bay for the inspiration. My sister Amy took this photo after a particularly tough day from the Next Chapter…
May we all have fair winds and following seas in our own Next Chapter…
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.