I learn by going

The road we travel is unknown to us, but it's a beautiful and compelling journey. Almendros en flor (cropped) by Gregorio Puga Bailón, CC by 2.0 via Flickr

The road we travel is unknown to us, but it’s a beautiful and compelling journey.
Almendros en flor (cropped) by Gregorio Puga Bailón, CC by 2.0 via Flickr

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I learn by going where I have to go. —  Theodore Roethke

I’ve never been fond of awakening from a nice dreamy sleep, and getting up (especially on cold, dark mornings) is not something I do well. I envy and wonder at Jeff’s ability to get up very early, usually without an alarm to wake him, and immediately start his day.  Aside from his recent times in the hospital under sedation, I can’t remember a single time when he has shown any reluctance to get up in the morning.

This is the season when it starts to become most difficult, as the morning light wanes and we have to get up in the dark.  When the cold sets in, it will be really brutal. But every day, along with millions of others who share my morning drowsiness, I somehow arise and go about my morning routine, my steps seemingly ahead of my brain much of the time.

Life is like that, isn’t it?  A lot of what we learn, we learn simply by doing what we have to do and going where we must go, even if we start out in a bit of a fog.  Whether we place ourselves in the hands of God, or look elsewhere for direction and reassurance, daily each of us must summon some measure of faith to keep moving into an uncertain future.

The present moment is deceptively familiar, yet totally unknown to us; our entire world can change in the blink of an eye.  Little wonder the comforting nest of sleep is something many of us are slow to relinquish. But the day ahead calls to us, and we know it is often beautiful, sometimes amazingly so.  With lingering yawns, we move forward.

As I reschedule this post, reading it again hits me with an almost cruel blow. I am struck by the strangeness of how prophetic that last paragraph was. Over the seven years to follow its publication, my life was to change in an instant, not just once or twice, but several times. Most recently, as many of you know, is the bizarre injury and facial trauma that has taken over my life for six painful months now, with another 8-12 months still ahead of me, with no guarantees as to outcome. Indeed, I have learned and continue to learn by going where I have to go, and I suppose I must be grateful that I had no idea what lay ahead of me during those 7 years– nor even the past six months. I could never have imagined any of it, and the unimaginable just keeps coming.

Enduring now what I could not have expected nor prepared for, I doggedly try to look to whatever future remains to me with optimism. It’s becoming harder and harder to do that, because all we have as an indicator is the past. For those of you who have noticed my lengthy absences from the comments section, I appreciate your patience as I do the best I can each day. I have not forgotten you.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    I am a morning slug lately. Getting to sleep at night is becoming more difficult.
    I am so sorry for your sudden unhappy turns of events.
    I’m trying to think of situations where something could “change in an instant” and be a good thing…. For example, you drop you car keys, and the stranger that finds them becomes a good friend over the next years…. something like that. I’m wishing and praying for more positive changing events like that for you, and also the awareness to recognize them, when they happen.

    • Susan, that’s a very good and focused prayer, not too different from the one I’ve prayed so often myself! The trick is in being able to recognize the blessings, even if they aren’t what we had first hoped or expected. Blessings almost never take the form we imagine when we ask for them…thanks for being here “in my corner” with me for so long!

  2. Chris

    Yes, Julia, life is hard sometimes, and not fair. You’ve probably had your share of life-altering experiences. I believe your resilience and adaptability will continue to push you through. And no matter how tough it gets, I believe there will always be a better day. You’re loved and cherished by so many, and remain in our thoughts and prayers. Feel the love, as we power your optimism! 💐😊

    • Thanks so much, Chris! I really need it now, as my bone graft surgery had unexpected complications and now the healing is not going as quickly as we had hoped. Right now I’m focusing on getting through the next three days in the hospital with Matt’s next cardiac procedure, so those thoughts, prayers and optimism are greatly appreciated!

  3. I didn’t know about your injuries! Did you have an accident?

    Positive thoughts flowing your way!

    • Ann, I’ll email (or snail mail) you the details soon. Might not get to it today. Matt’s next cardiac surgery is in the morning and I’m trying to get as well as I can before then! Of course I’ll be with him there at the hospital, even if I feel lousy.

      • Ann

        How did Matt”s surgery go?

        • Ann, the surgery itself went well, but his chest incision was very slow to heal, oozing blood for over a week afterward and developing a HUGE (tennis ball sized) hematoma along the incision site. We spent another day back at the hospital the following week and they debated about admitting him for surgery the next morning to clean it out. But after much discussion, the consensus of the team was to send him home on oral antibiotics and watch it closely for awhile. Thankfully that did the trick for him and the incision FINALLY appears well healed. In all his heart surgeries, this is the first time this has ever happened. But of course, he’s now 37 and has other complications (liver cirrhosis secondary to his cardiac issues being the most worrisome one). But we’re taking one day at a time. Thank you for caring, and for your ongoing prayers.

          • Chris

            Thanks for the update. I’m glad Matt’s incision site has healed. I think about you both daily, as I go thru my prayers each morning. I pray for your peace every day, and healing of course. Each day is a step closer. 😊

            • Thank you Chris. We do really need those prayers. My oral surgeon finally removed part of the palatal bone graft yesterday, to allow the wound a better chance to heal. I was really dreading it, but it wasn’t as painful as I was expecting, and as he said, “I’ll sleep better once the tissue has completely closed over that graft.” I think he did the right thing. I’m hoping I’m beginning to turn some sort of corner; I think I can tell a difference already, but of course I’ve thought that many times over the past 6 weeks, and been mistaken. One day at a time…

          • Ann Weldon

            Oh Julia! Matt has had to go through so much. Take care of yourself so you can take care of him.

            • Thank you Ann. I sent you an email awhile back, to see whether I still have the right address for you. But I don’t think you got the email. Have you moved anytime in the past couple of years? If not, I’ll send you an update to the address I have.

              • Ann

                I answered the email! Anyway, have not moved.

                • Ann, thanks so much for alerting me — I went back and hunted and found the email from you, in which you had answered almost immediately! I don’t know how or why I missed it, but that’s the sort of thing I’m doing more and more lately. At times I think the brain concussion did have lingering effects that just didn’t show up on the CT scan…but then again, I’ve always been somewhat bad at keeping up with things, at least in recent years.

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