I remember the grassy slope, an air conditioning unit that doubled as home plate in whiffle ball, a clothesline to empty before we could ride bikes, the backyard where I grew from five to twelve.
I sat, a twiggy legged ten year old in tuck position, toes pointing down slope toward the garden. I stared straight past the swaying asparagus plants and sobbed.
The fact I had no reason to cry--no reason at all--it only made the crying worse.
Two days earlier, the heart under my leotard pounded a mixture of nerves and adrenalin at the final gymnastics meet of the season. I placed in the all-around for the first time, with a personal best on vault and beam. Two days earlier, I was elated.
But two days later, it was over.
And my 10 year old heart felt emptier than a pool in a lightning storm, and about as gloomy.
The thing no one seems to mention--not when you're ten, not when you're forty--is that when you finally arrive at the place you've been striving for, dreaming of, pining for, working toward--it can be a colossal let down.
I could show you a list of the places I arrived, the resolutions made and kept, the chapters completed. And by every checked item on that list, I could show you the corresponding cloaked disappointment, the quiet empty ache that sneaks in when you stop waving and step off the podium.
It's been a long time (over 20 years, I think) since I read The Pilgrim's Regress. Most of it was over my head then. Most of it probably still is. But I latched on to one string of thought from which the entire allegory seemed to hang.
Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.-C.S. Lewis