“Life is unfolding as it should.” One of my high school English teachers, Mrs. Hargreaves, said that in class one day and I never forgot it. I remember writing it in the margin of my notebook and I still find much comfort in it to this day.
I’m currently obsessed with Ben Howard’s album, Every Kingdom, and the funny thing is that I’ve been falling in love with Howard’s sweet voice for some time, and didn’t really put the pieces together until now. I posted this video on my blog in May, 2011, which is his song, ‘Old Pine,’ but I guess at the time, I never bothered to look up any of his other music.
This past November I was at the Starbucks in Honolulu airport, on my way home and heard a song playing with the lyrics, “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.” I remember feeling like such a dork fumbling with my bags and my tea to get my phone out so I could Shazam it before it ended. I needed to know whose voice that was and who wrote those lyrics! I hit the button in time to see it was a musician named Ben Howard. I made a mental note to look him up later, but never did.
A couple of weeks ago my cousin Kate posted a song, ‘Only Love,’ on Facebook by a musician she’s digging named Ben Howard. Still didn’t compute, but I loved the song and wanted to hear more. I looked up Ben Howard. I found ‘Old Pine,’ recognized it and went archiving in my blog. Suddenly it all clicked. I immediately downloaded the album on Itunes and then discovered ‘Keep your Head up.’ I checked my Shazam history, and it all made me smile. Oh, sweet universe.
And really, it’s some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I’m listening to it as I write this.
My point here, is that it took a good long while for this album to find its way into my life in its entirety. I heard bits and pieces and I was obviously drawn to it, but for whatever reason it all didn’t come together until now.
Life is unfolding as it should, said Mrs. Hargreaves.
In many ways, this past year has involved me reminding myself to “Keep my head up, keep my heart strong” every single day. My love story came to an abrupt end and I was left questioning everything. How do I keep my heart strong when it’s broken? How do I move on? How do I ever trust again? What did I do wrong? And why, oh why, is life unfolding like this?
I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. But I am trying to live the crap outta the questions over here, Rilke.
It’s been a heart wrenching year full of uncertainty. I had tough, anger filled moments and days. I physically couldn’t do heart opening poses in my yoga classes without an overwhelming feeling that I was going to pass out every time. I cried on my mat more times than I’d like to admit. I felt betrayed by my own heart and my own gut for leading me to what felt like a dead end. I scornfully dismissed certainty and wrote things like this.
I wanted a Shazam button for my life.
WHY? *push button*
But you carry on. You do your best. You keep your head up. You try to be kind and gentle with yourself. You breathe. You find a home in yoga. You let yourself feel. You lean where you need to. You keep going. You pack your bags for a ranch in Wyoming because you know you need the wilderness and wide open space.
Like finding a song here and a song there, you take the bits and pieces of the journey as they come, as the universe presents them to you. And you know, as Rilke says, that you will live your way into the answers one day, when you’re ready. Then you will smile and again say, Oh, sweet universe.
Until then, you know that the greatest love story of all, is really the one entirely made up of you, so you put your whole heart into writing that one.
I love LOVE. Whether your heart is broken, healing, or swooning this Valentine’s Day, THIS grateful, beating heart of mine over here is sending yours some big love and a sweet reminder that it’s all unfolding as it should.