My friend, Velma is a social worker. We met as colleagues in a previous job, both of us assigned to take on an experimental role of teaching wellness and positive psychology to our peers. Tasked with the job of teaching this to others, we had to learn about these concepts first. We learned more about ourselves and about each other in this process. Shortly upon knowing of the other's existence, we became fast friends. In many ways we teeter at different ends of the spectrum -- Velma as a social worker and me as a counselor, Velma working with the older adult population as I had worked mainly with children. There is even a gap in our ages, as Velma grounds me with the resourcefulness and self-discipline of her Baby Boomer generation, and I bring to the table an intuitive knowledge of technology (or at least that's what Indeed.com boasts of us millennials). We complement one another in a symbiotic dance, as we regularly share ideas and insights, praise and support, and we hold space for the other in times that feel suffocating in today's climate.
My friend Velma is also a writer. In her debut novel, Getting to Grace (written under the pen name Lee Barber), she shares a story that was published late last year but written some 20 years ago. One of the many aspects for which I admire my friend, Velma's writing has been her committed companion as life took her through all sorts of twists and turns and new paths.
My friend's writing journey, mirroring the story of her Sexagenerian characters Grace and Sam, illustrates that things often take time. It shows that a person's passion is never far from reach, and sometimes we just need the space to grow into who we are supposed to be. In this novel, spanning the decades-long romantic dance between the two main characters, there is a tangible parallel to the couple's tale, one which depicts a time span we read about in history books but isn't so far back in our history - The Civil Rights Movement. Although set in a different time with fictional characters, this story holds onto a stronger truth than I've felt reading many "true story" accounts of our nation's past. The story being told here is one that we continue to live, as we press on in the fight for equality and compassion.
But as the sensible Sam Cielo says, toward the end of Velma's novel, "Liberation is a process...not a permanent state of being."
If you are feeling stuck today, or if you imagine yourself to be in the perfect place of growth and you fear that this feeling will fade, remember that liberation is a process. You are allowed to have bad days. And you are allowed to have really fantastic days, with the potential for having a cruddy day next week - that doesn't diminish the fantastic ones. We are all stories, woven into the tales of others, creating this narrative tapestry that ebbs and flows over time and over chapters. And just as Velma's novel has a happy ending, your story can too. If life feels complicated or harsh, then it means that you're still living. You are both the writer and the reader of your life narrative. As you approach the hurdles life throws at you, treat them as the mindful reader would, and continue on - turning the page with the hope and diligence that there will be a resolution in the next chapter.
And if you need a good love story to pass the time while you're passing through your own plot, I recommend the one where Grace and Sam find their place in the world and eventually find each other.