The years.

The minutes and seconds and moments, both key and not so much so, all seem to happen so quickly; so instantly; so irretrievably wonderfully fast, don’t they? Our selves are born (thrown, I would say is more accurate) into relationship with this paradox known as life and helped to survive it; and if we’re lucky, maybe even live it.

Those around us show us: this is your hand, this is friendship, this is macaroni and cheese, this is death, this is IRS form 1040 (death in another form), this is seventh grade humiliation. Those around us do their best (sadly, they fall short as we will with our children) to prepare us: this is anxiety, this is despair, this is happiness and sadness and confusion all intertwined.

The years.

One moment, you’re a third grader nervously awaiting the first day of school, dressed in your most prized Roadrunner t-shirt. Another, you’re driving up the Highway 101, your 2004 Pontiac Aztek filled to the brim with all of your life’s belongings—you, anxious in that captain’s chair, feeling anything but captain.

That last Polaroid describes my voyage across the United States from Nashville, Tennessee, to begin my life’s next chapter at a graduate student at Mars Hill Graduate School. I can still feel the storehouse of feeling my self endured to make that move—the panic, the fear, the excitement, the shame, the doubt. Those affect-packed moments happened almost four years ago. Four years. 1,460 days ago.

The years.

Now, in these liquid current seconds, I’m a full calendar (525,949 minutes) out of what we have come to know as The Seattle School, as a psychotherapist in private practice. Even as I pen those words, I am kind of laughing at where the times and my one-and-only self have ventured.

The truth is, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been across the span of my life. Well, most days. Most minutes. Someone special just asked me the other day, “Michael, would you say you’re living your dream?” I stalled, and eventually answered the question with a kind of surreal, surprised, (maybe even disbelieving inflection at the end) response of, “Yeah… I really am.”

This past year, these postgraduate moments, have been those packed feelings aforementioned in my SUV captain’s chair. Storms of nervousness, uncertainty, and doubts—betwixt clouds and rays and simple rain showers of joy, excitement, hope, and indescribable love. I think a lot of life’s instances are these kinds of emotional weather fronts that come in, sometimes forecasted, most times not. For all of us.

But, you know, the thing that’s been so transformative and helpful about my navigation through The Seattle School, coupled with my own personal analysis, is learning how to see and bear these inevitable life storms. Which is to say, those good-enough mommy and daddy professors at The Seattle School taking us by hand and showing us: this is sexuality, this is race, this is uncertainty, this is pathology, this is pain and transference and faith. Inviting us to understand and relate to these big categories with our vast, ever-changing, universal yet one-and-only selves.

Then, learning how to go out and be an instrument in the symphony of the world. How to relate and work and play, eat and drink, fight and love with everyone else, who’s caught up in battening down the hatches in their lives as well. How to really pay attention, as best we can,
to the moments,
the seconds,
the minutes,

the years.

(image: Michael Louderback with Dr. Dan Allender at 2013 Commencement)