You must know the bittersweet sentiment when a time of great change comes over you, leaving a feeling of aching joy. The tangy taste of the bittersweet is coming up for us this month, as we send off our only child to college. The masala of emotions is thick with feeling: joy and sorrow, gain and loss, relinquishing while holding on, welcoming change while simultaneously resisting it.
Navigating the Transition to an Empty Nest
Eno’s departure (to a small liberal arts college in Maine called Bates) brings to the fore the age old teachings we have humbly attempted to embody for decades: non-clinging, being open to the new, trusting in the face of uncertainty, and staying with painful feeling. Now we wake in the morning to a tender ache. Each day we are prompted again and again to reckon with life’s unknowability. In the masala of the day, a mixture of sentiments blend together – loss, regret, longing, and gratefulness. Letting go requires its own kind of faith for when the time comes to leave what you love the most, pain and joy get fused together. It is strange how loss works. Somehow the missing fortifies your faith in the here and now. Somehow the missing makes the world more vivid and savory as the aftertaste of loss lingers long. It is as if the hollow of absence enables a flood of new feeling. Suddenly your tastebuds open to a whole new combination of tastes.
The question remains, can you trust your life, can you keep opening to the new, the indeterminate. Precisely because the world is out of your hands, it will come back to you, at once delightful and sharp, pungent, and sweet… and always full of surprise.