It occurred to me the other day that what Galileo and Columbus knew was over ruled for me by what I learned in elementary school. How many times have I gotten my bearings by repeating that early lesson: The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. In my life I have depended on this little tidbit of erroneous information. I love to travel but hate to be lost. I love adventure but hate taking risks. And yet, if there is one thing that I know for sure, if there is one single lesson that I have learned in the past two years of parenting Oliver, it's this: elementary school teachers and Hemingway aside, the sun never rises. And if I stand in one place hoping to get my bearings from something outside of myself then I will always and truly be lost.
What Galileo and Columbus both knew is pretty remarkable, isn't it? What they proved is that none of us are really standing still even when it seems that we are. We are all making a journey through time and space that literally changes our perspectives and enables us to see the sun every morning. But the danger is in forgetting that it is we who are moving and not the sun. The danger is in waiting and watching the horizon for a time when things will be different.
In the past few years since Oliver was diagnosed with autism I have struggled with acceptance. This was not the life I envisioned stretched out before me. And even while I came to understand and accept the nature of his challenges, I had a hard time looking too far down the road. The draft of our Will that we had revised upon Sami's birth and that we unknowingly retrieved from the lawyers office three days before Oliver's diagnosis still sits in an envelope in our important papers file un-reviewed. Part of me still wants to believe that someday we will look back and laugh at how much we worried that Oliver would never learn to communicate. Or at how much we worried, period. Without even realizing it, a part of me has been waiting and hoping for a time when things will be different. A part of me was always looking towards the horizon.
But the miracle of life is that time and movement, imperceptible though they may be, still change us. It's why the beautiful blossoms of daffodils, about to awaken in my garden, orient themselves to to the sun each day. It isn't the sun that is moving, it's the flower changing its perspective. And so it has been with my journey of acceptance. All this time and I haven't really understood that I've been moving even when it seemed that I wasn't going anywhere. Every day my perspective was changing so incrementally that I wasn't even aware of it. And then one day I woke up, saw that sun shining through my windows, reflected on the darkest nights past, my incredible joy at the morning, and realized that I am undertaking a journey that Columbus would envy.
My journey is one full of adventure, risk-taking and discovery and is certainly not one I would have mapped out for myself. But everyday I am learning to embrace what I once feared and to find my own bearings. I've been lost on my travels and there are many times when I've looked searchingly towards the horizon. I have no doubt that I will many times again. But there is a certain comfort for me in this revelation -- however fleeting -- that the sun never rises.