As many of you may recall, Dan and I have each been chosen to be sling diarists for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume V: All the Love. This is the third of six posts that I will be sharing here on the blog (you can find my first post here, and second post here), and Dan will be sharing his over on Instagram a little later on. Today's post will center around the theme of surprise. Thank you all, new readers and old alike, for following along on this journey with us.
My sweet little Oswin,
We went on a little hike the other day Oswin. A hike on the trail just behind our house, that leads us up to the cow pastures on the Jura Mountains. We said hello to the horses in one field, walked over stones, and took in all the silence of nature. We counted butterflies, light blue ones especially, and watched the grasshoppers in action. The wind was blowing gently, blowing the wild grass and brightly colored wild flowers of the mountain, and we stopped to notice the wild blackberries that were growing. Mama may have picked a few to snack on. We picked a few wildflowers and waved them around in the air. We even found something new and unexpected, a wild pear tree. All our years of living here and I have never noticed that wild pear tree.
We walked up and up, not too far as you were getting sleepy, but enough to heal Mama's mountain-lust. We walked up to the one open field with the one dead tree in the middle of it. We checked on the birch trees and then just stood there, breathing in the mountain. With our back to the mountain we could look out over Geneva and the lake, as well as see the not far off Swiss vineyards and neighboring french towns. We waved to Jet d'Eau, which could be clearly seen from where we stood.
Something pulled us up onto the mountain that day little Oswin, and as cliche as it may sound, when the mountains call you must go.
The life of an expat is not a simple one my dear, you leave pieces of your heart in so many lands with so many friends, and sometimes it is hard to feel whole. Nowhere and everywhere feels like home, and while making your home in one land you yearn for that of another. On a typical day I am simultaneously homesick for the city and the sea, but yet can't imagine ever saying good-bye to "our" mountains. The Jura have stolen our collective hearts, and I'm sad for each day that we don't spend a portion of time exploring it's elevations and woods. Around every rock lies something new - a newly flowering plant, a chamois, an overgrown trail that we decide to try, a wild fruit plant. There are not many things in life anymore that can truly surprise us as nature can.
When Papa and I were waiting for you to make your grand appearance into this world, we wanted to be surprised, by everything. We wanted the blissful chaos of taking an unknown and sometimes scary-as-hell-trail on the Jura. That kind of trail that typically leaves me telling Papa, "we have to turn back," and then upon looking behind me realizing that is not possible. We wanted you to show us the way to go, because like nature, if you try to control an unknown entity too much, it will show you just how little control you actually have. We didn't want to find out if you were a boy or girl until we saw you for the very first time. We didn't want to read any of the "What to Expect" books or the like, we wanted to, for better or for worse, figure you out on our own. We knew your name, but we were keeping that to ourselves, because sometimes surprises are fun to hold close to your chest. But for two people who like to make lists and have all of our bases covered, we were really flying pretty fancy free when it came to your arrival and early days. We wouldn't have had it any other way. You're going to be showing us the way for the rest of our lives, why not start with your birth. I knew things could go wrong, so we didn't have a set birth plan. We trusted you, and we trusted our doctor. We worked with surprise to allow you to do your thing and give us the most beautiful little bundle of joy in an almost 8 pound package that we could have ever hoped for.
Flowing free like the wind, letting the waves take you, letting the universe work in its own mysterious ways...allowing yourself to be flexible in this life will take you to wondrous places you may have never dreamt. Keep your eyes on your dreams, but know that there is not just one trail to the top of the mountain. One of the best hikes that Papa and I ever took was on a trail that it seemed no one had been through in awhile. The trail markers were there, but it became increasingly overgrown as we went higher and higher. As we neared the road, we were essentially scaling a wall. I didn't think we would make it. I was scared and cursing that trail marker for lulling us into a "safe" path, which seemed anything but. As Papa grabbed my hand and pulled me up onto the road, I realized that we had made it, and we had done something awesome, and different, something I had not thought we'd have done that day while drinking our morning coffee. Papa took my pocket knife and carved our initials into a tree. The silence of nature on this trail was deafening and beautiful, something we had not expected. A welcome surprise following our ascent. We found a cabin we had never seen before, and had lunch overlooking a field of wild daffodils...all things we would never have found had we taken our normal route to the top.
All of the surprises in this life will not be wonderful and tree-lined though my dear. People will disappoint you. I hate to say it, but they will. People whom you thought were your friends, almost like family, will let you down, and it will hurt. Sometimes family will let you down. These are those gut wrenching surprises that will knock you off your feet that we wish we could protect you from, but we can't. And we shouldn't. Because through this process you'll learn who it's worth to give your time and energies to, and who it's just not meant to be with. Blood doesn't give someone the right to treat you any less than you deserve, nor does being a kindred spirit in a far-away land. But don't become jaded like your mama. Try not to take it to heart too much. Some people are meant to stay, and some are meant to go, and that's ok. That's good. Learning whom to let into your life and who to keep out can actually be one of the most life-affirming surprises of all. Surround yourself with positive people, because life is too short to be spent with people who are shitty to you. Learn from the sour surprises while you cherish the sweet ones.
The other day we went on a hike Oswin. We went further up than I had planned. Mama needed it. And then, somewhere off in the distance, we heard cow bells. This is normally a calming sound to me, but being with you on the mountain meant that we were in their territory, in their pasture, and it scared me a bit. Cows are a lot bigger once you're on the same side of the fence, as are their sharp and pointy Alpine horns. I couldn't see them, but I could hear them as we picked up the pace heading down the mountain. We had enough surprises for one little hike. After all, little adventurers need their naps, and their mamas need coffee. We'll say hi to the cows another day.