I always think of a surprise as something good, like when my husband would show up with a small gift. But that’s only half its meaning. I could have said I’m shocked or in disbelief, which would have been true, since it was a rare event, but I said, “what a surprise!”, instead. We don’t secretly plan shock birthday parties or say, “Disbelief, you’re having twins!”. No, the word surprise works perfectly in these situations, because both are meant to be good things. Amazing, astonishing, and wonder are all positive synonyms for surprise. Disbelief, shock, and bombshell are negative ones. Which way it goes depends not only on what is received but how that which is received is perceived. Chocolates are considered a very nice surprise but not if I’m severely allergic – sweet gift or trying to kill me? “Surprise, I’m getting married!” sounds amazing, but not to the parent who perceives the person you’re marrying as unworthy. Wonderfully perceived is immediate joy, while shockingly perceived can take a while to become real, to accept, to realize that change me, the perceiver, may be required. So when in doubt, be ready for time to bring about joy or acceptance; change.
I’m trying to think if I’ve ever had to make a choice I didn’t want to make. Have I ever refused to choose? I know I’ve made choices that were difficult to make, but I made them anyway, choosing the best option based on the information I had at the time. Some were too easy to make, no-brainers, because there was one obvious option. Not choosing is choosing, either I won’t or don’t know I have a choice. Wrong choices are lessons learned and there’s hope in fixable or starting over, even if painful to do so. Some decisions were made for me, as a child by my parents, as an adult when I wasn’t asked if I wanted to be a widow or not. Everything is clearer in retrospect, except for the decisions made for me, once, at a time when I wasn’t capable, and once because could meant nothing, even though would, would mean everything. But who I am, because of the decisions made for me, doesn’t have to prevent me from becoming who I need to be. I just need to see I’m more than the events of my past and hold myself accountable for my future.
I was thinking about something I still want to be part of. Do I deserve to? Have I earned it? A synonym for deserve is earn, but it’s more than that; it’s I’m worthy, because I’m a good person. Wonderful things fall into the lap of bad people; what did they do to deserve this? Nothing. Bad things happen to good people; what did they do to deserve this? Nothing. Unlike deserve, there’s work involved to earn something. If it’s something I’ve worked hard for but don’t achieve, do I wallow in, I don’t deserve this, or do I figure out what more I can do or find something else to work towards. Some things can be earned by my actions, like respect and trust. Some things might be, like working overtime to get the promotion I want. Other things can’t be, like love. If love was based on earning it, I’d never have any or give any; too many screw ups on my part and on the part of those I love. So will I try, hope, appreciate, accept, and move forward, or try, expect, be dissatisfied, and despair? I’ll choose door #1. Maybe disappointed, but not miserable.
Trees on Adirondack mountain tops live an interesting life. Beautiful views, stubborn clouds, amazing sunshine, crazy rain, unpolluted air, and wild winds. Using the uncontrollable goodness around them, they make deep roots and strong branches, and in spite of the uncontrollable onslaughts of the difficult, they more than survive, they thrive. Never missing an opportunity to appreciate the good, using it to their advantage. Standing strong during the bad, even though they can do nothing to prevent it. I live an interesting life. There’s beauty around me, difficulties, brightness, darkness, healthy living, and things that want to knock me over. There’s goodness I don’t recognize, not using it to make myself strong. How well do I thrive through the difficult times, and why do I let them cloud the good? Do I stand strong; not preventable, maybe so, but I’m not powerless against it. Can I figure out how to be a tree?
- Cloud Cover / Living Undefeated
- White clouds hold the mountain tops in their embrace
- The light in complete contrast to the dark
- Clouds blocking the view of beautiful snow capped peaks
- They’ll leave at some point
- When the sun sends them on their way and the sky turns blue
I can accept and tolerate the cold easier in January than in April. A synonym for accept is receive. Many things in life are offered to me, sometimes they come with, do you want them or not, and if so, I not only hold them in my hands, but receive them into my life because I want them there, made to fit. Sometimes I don’t want them, so after they’re in my hands for a while, I let them go, not a good fit. But there’s the times when I don’t want them and I’m not given a choice, they’re mine, I must hold them in my hands. What then? It depends on how much they weigh. The cold isn’t so heavy, so I can hold it, uncomfortably for a while, until it changes. Then there’s the heavy stuff, like my husband’s death, painful to hold in my hands, becoming heavier and heavier the longer they are not received into my life, not made to fit. It’s not that I want them, but I must pull them in, lightening the load piece by piece, slowing freeing my hands so I can begin holding more of all life has to offer.
I remember standing at my kitchen sink after leaving my husband behind. I stared out the window, not thinking about anything, not feeling anything, but it wouldn’t be like that forever. I was able to sit in on the conversations around me, but in one ear and out the other, no place for them to rest. Each person’s arrival made me cry as we exchanged comfort, bringing me back for short periods of time to reality – their reality, not mine. Mine didn’t exist, but it wouldn’t be like that forever. I didn’t care about anything, but what needed to happen, happened anyway, it got done or it didn’t, according to those who were there. Were those who came given something to eat, a place to sit, or a place to sleep? Not by me; incapable of concern for others. I can’t remember the words I spoke and only a few actions, probably because they were so unlike me, but I remember being gracious in public. What others saw wasn’t the real me. Did they want to see the real me? For the ones who came and went, probably not. For those that stayed for the long run, most certainly.
“There’s people everywhere who think they’ve been dealt a bad hand.” This quote is from a movie but I’m not sure which, and it’s certainly true, even though slightly understated. I believe the think part is true, stories of bad hands that are far from being bad hands, because I’ve heard and seen far worse. There’s also the knowing kind of bad hands, no thinking involved. But it doesn’t matter if you think or you know, all that matters is what you do with it. It’s not like it will grow out like a bad haircut, or passed off to someone else, like the gift of an ill-fitting sweater. No, it’s yours to keep, but how will you keep it? I’m working mine into my life, but that didn’t happen right away. Shock made me deny it at first. Anger made me resist the changes I needed to make. I’ve always been able to picture the way around, but not this time, so I stalled out until I became determined to accept, figure it out, work through it. That’s the path to living with it. Can’t change it, but I can change me. Others have done it; I can too.