I thought about choices today as I recalled the last few pairs of jeans I tried on. They had one thing in common; they were waist high! I’m short, so low-rise on me are mid-rise, and mid-rise are waist high, and waist high, well they feel like they’re skimming my arm pits! The gurus of fashion have decided waste high is in, therefore I didn’t buy any jeans because I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t choose to be born or have evaporated milk in a bottle instead of breast milk. I didn’t choose to become nearsighted in the second grade. I didn’t choose for my first child to be a boy and the second a girl, that’s just what I got. I didn’t choose to be a widow at 56. He didn’t choose to die. With so many things beyond my control I better make sure I keep my eyes peeled for everything that is and choose. At a certain point angry becomes a choice. Happy is a choice that outmaneuvers feeling sad. Loving is a choice worth holding onto when dislike shows up. And when I think there’s no choice, I’ll look again, just to be sure.
What does it takes to arrive? I want to be in Alaska, but don’t want to do 17 hours of what it takes to get there – no “beam me up, Scotty” option. I wanted to hold my own baby in my arms, but could have done nicely without all it took during those 9 months to get there – no stork option. I wanted to receive a college diploma, but wished it didn’t take 4+ years of coursework to get there – no “mind meld” option. To arrive can take more than just time: money, hard work, patience, courage, pain, frustration, determination, stamina, will, luck, mistakes, modifications, and more. And then there’s finding arrive isn’t quite what was expected, or it was but you want more, so many more arrivals to come. Getting there, the journey, the path, whatever you want to call it, might require a lot, but it’s everything. Arriving is only a moment, but some of what I’m looking forward to finding once I arrive can be found while on my way, like happy, fulfillment, experiences, and accomplishments but only if I’m willing to challenge myself to find these things in what it takes, not just in the arrival.
I discovered something about myself, well more like, able to put into words, why everything seems so wrong; I need to accomplish. It helps me understand anger when little things go wrong – I want to hang something up and not have it fall off the hanger. It helps me understand sadness – I haven’t failed but haven’t succeeded either with going alone, doing it less and less instead of more and more. It’s been quite a while since I had a goal or a project underway and in those two things lies just about all of my self-esteem and sense of purpose; another revelation. Revelations are great, but now what to do about them? I can set another goal, find another project, but I believe it’s time for something more, or maybe less – finding fulfillment without something to do and therefore finish, or needing a reason other than joy. I’ve experienced these two before but always in the company of others. Is it possible in my own company to not accomplish and find fulfillment (toes), or make joy my reason (feet)? I know from experience it is not, but can I will my mind to convince my heart that it is? (toes & feet – see Start Again)
The memory of seeing my husband dead for the first time crushed me last night. I grabbed his shirt in anger but I really wanted to slap him or shake him until he woke up. Anger was overwhelming, not fear, not sadness. He was gone, so everything and everyone I had was gone. Not literally gone, but I no longer knew of their existence except in the overpowering need to tell those closest to him he was gone, for I couldn’t see them, at that moment, as close to me. Did I want them to share my pain? There was no pain, not yet. I needed them to feel, not just know, what happened, so they could take it in, in their own way, in whatever manner would best process what he meant to them and what the impact would be now that he’s been taken from their lives, for he meant something totally different to each and every one of us. They would come and we would cry together. I don’t know if they cried for me, or him, or for themselves, but I cried for me. My heart couldn’t hold them too, even though they were right here.
(What Will It Take? continued) I know in my heart and mind that I’ve learned, grown, and changed much over the past 8+ years. It’s all real, except thinking I should have arrived by now. The rollercoaster ride isn’t over. No longer just down, as in the beginning, no longer just climbing, no longer curves and loops. I have more ups ahead of me so I need to start again on a different track, getting off this flat section, going higher still. I’ve come this far with a shovel and bucket, but now need a backhoe and dump truck – dig deeper, hauling out heavier stuff. I used to deal with dirt and rocks, but now I’ve reached boulders – no longer moving small stuff. I’ve peeled back the layers of latex paint, stripped off the oil based paint, and now left with heavy duty sanding – cleaning away the gunk stuck to the base layer. Why so angry? At what? Why tears? For what or who? What’s so wrong with here? Figure it out – fix it. Conquer the start – It doesn’t have to be the quick intense pain of jumping in; just toes, then feet, ankles, . . . legs, . . . belly, . . . shoulders, . . . slowly, less intense, I’ll get just as soaked.
What’s wrong with me lately? Lots of anger and tears lying just below the surface. I don’t want to be here, but don’t know where else to go. I only feel good about myself when I finish chores because they’re thoughtless yet fulfilling because I can boast, look what I accomplished. I can’t make myself do what I really want on weekends; either I don’t know where to go, how to do it, or lack the energy to get everything ready to just arrive. It’s the all-encompassing going alone, that which I’ve grown to hate and therefore make every effort, use every excuse, to avoid. I’ve been letting small mishaps while doing little things frustrate me because I want them, no, need them, to be easy, and go smoothly and quickly, because I don’t find those three in very many places in my life. Have I been deceiving myself that I’ve learned, grown, and changed so much? Are these real on the outside but not the inside. Is completing my journey like losing 20 pounds? It takes great effort to lose the first 15 but the last 5 takes greater still! And if this is true, what will it take? (to be continued)
“Here is what I see: First, the forest . . . A choir of seedlings . . . sucking life out of death . . . the forest eats itself and lives forever.” (The Poisonwood Bible) It’s amazing really, how nature fits together, works together, creating a balance of life and death. Mother Nature is in control, not us. By 1926 there were no wolves in Yellowstone Park. and by 1929 their lack of presence was being noticed – elk congregating in massive herds, devastating young trees, causing birds and beaver to leave, altering streams and fish populations. “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. . . . from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.” “. . . don’t we eat the antelope?” “When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. . . . we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.” (The Lion King) What about humans? How well do we fit together, work together, create a balance of life and death? Do we think only for ourselves, or consider if we’re leaving behind something for the next generation to enjoy or endure? Do we take and not give back? Could we think circular like Mother Nature or are we stuck on our straight lines? It’s time to try.