The main theme of a movie I watched recently was regret. People don’t make decisions followed by the words, one day I’ll regret this. Usually from the mouth of friends and family come, you’ll regret this one day. I make decisions, do things, don’t do things, with the best of intentions, desiring the best results. It’s the, you haven’t walked a mile in my shoes syndrome, the inability to understand my reasons. They also lack strong emotions that are sometimes attached to decisions. Emotions resemble fog when it comes to decisions, making it hard to see objects in the distance clearly, creating the need to paint a clear picture of them in my mind. Friends and family have the advantage of fog lights, making it easier to see the distant objects, because they are emotionally attached to me, not the decision. It’s good to take their thoughts under advisement, but if I choose differently it doesn’t help to hear the, you’ll regret statement. How hurtful to hear anything other than encouragement after finally making a decision. You never know, there’s always hope, so friends and family, go with hope and be ready to help fix if things don’t work out.
The memorial hike flyer says: Jeff truly WALKED through life. The oldest memory I have of my husband is him walking home, with his thumb out trying to hitch a ride, from the community college we attended. I thought, how handsome he was, even with his funky hiking boots and outdated backpack, hoping he’d get a ride for some of those 16 miles. He literally walked just about everywhere then, and he loved it. Walking is pretty much the slowest means of transportation but it doesn’t mean time means nothing. It just means you’d rather set your own pace, choose a longer, more scenic route, and concentrate on the journey, not the destination. He reached many destinations and met his final goal to teach and make a difference. It just took him 57 years during which he worked, raised a family, received two college degrees, built rustic furniture, and indulged his wife’s love of fishing. He didn’t run through life trying to fit in as much as he could. He’d rather walk, taking the only route available or making a choice, longest, shortest, easiest, hardest, discovering the best in him or the worst. I’m so glad his walk included me.
I hate it when I ask myself a question I can’t answer because now I have to figure it out, finding not just any answer, a sufficient one, which can be downright hard. Why can’t I just ask? I think it boils down to the existence of certain topics that are uncomfortable to talk about; hard enough with friends and just too awkward, hurtful, or controversial to talk about with anyone else. To ask, why don’t you come to the hike any more is something I really want the answer to, but would they answer honestly? Like most people, I tend to avoid subjects I don’t want to be honest about. Maybe it’s too painful to talk about. Maybe I believe being honest would hurt someone else, leaving me with two bad choices, hurt them or lie. When avoid isn’t possible, I’ll choose to skirt around the truth, not quite a lie, not quite the truth, taking the easy way out. I remember a few times being honest and how sick I was before (anticipation), during (trepidation), and after (tribulation). Honesty is the best policy, but letting go of need to know, along with not thinking the worst, works too.
Sunday was the 7th annual hike in memory of my husband. It’s a fundraiser for a college scholarship in his name. It’s a time to remember for those who come and this year a funny memory was shared by my niece who joined us on a summer vacation trip to a lakeside cabin. It’s a time to support me by walking with me but also by just being here, in my home, in my life. My family came; his did not, one of the few remaining hurtful things I have yet to let go. I don’t understand why they don’t come. The reason I’ve used for the last three they missed was they don’t care about me, making it all about me, something easier to do than really thinking about it. So today, by making it all about them, I was able to consider other reasons. Do they already painfully remember too often? I don’t know. Are the other losses in their lives so much greater that they can’t carry this one too? A child, two children, a spouse. Yes, this I could understand, but don’t know for sure. I wish they’d just tell me. Why can I just ask?
We’re taught as children to do certain things every day, like wash your face, brush your teeth, and eat your vegetables. Parents do this to make healthy habits stick. What I failed to do was think about, and then instill in my children, other, even more important, things we all should do daily. More important because these impact our character, and how we treat others. I thought of things like perform one act of kindness every day, and say I love you every day. How about laugh every day, and find someone to hug every day. What about say thank you and please every day. Then there’s find joy and something to be thankful for every day; especially challenging on those days when problems, frustration, or sadness push their way in. Life isn’t about just plodding along or making it through every day. It’s got to be more than just accomplishing all the tasks on my plate, each and every day. Children don’t need to be taught about the challenging and difficult, because those things will come along on their own. They need to be taught, and I need to remember, all the things that empower us to face them.
From Gray’s Anatomy: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” It’s inevitable that at some time in your life you will stub your toe and cut your finger. You might have surgery, break a bone, or need a tooth pulled. You’ll know how much it hurts to loose someone you love. Pain, caused by some kind of wound will hit us hard, but it won’t stay long. The suffering that comes after, caused by the pain, not the wound, will also find us, but it will stay as long as we let it. The deepest pain I’ve ever experienced lasted several days, renewed each time I re-lived my husband’s death with each loved one that came. The suffering lasted for years. I know now it didn’t have to, even though, at times, I found comfort in it. It might seem strange, finding comfort in suffering, but it’s easy to find comfort in things we know so well. Recently it was knee pain associated with age, but I’ve done a few things to end the suffering. I stopped being angry, and upped my tolerance level by stretching and working them every day. Don’t choose to keep suffering. It happened, that is enough.
My sister starting asking a question whenever she craves sugar: Do I want to feel great for 20 minutes or do I want to feel great forever? I tend to gravitate toward goodies when I’m sad, frustrated, or stressed. They make me feel really good, but for how long? If it’s as long as it takes to swallow one bite, I better have a big stash readily available to get me past whatever’s stealing my joy. This question could be asked about many things, like do I want to be confident or successful for the short-term, or forever? Temporary fixes are quick and easy to figure out but not usually the best solution. It’s the long-term fixes I want, the ones that take lots of time, effort, and thought. Eating healthy is a life time commitment. Getting a college degree requires not only years of study, but money. It’s hard to think about long-term when short-term gratification is right under my nose, in the cookie jar or at Ben & Jerry’s. If I’m sad, what would make me happy? If I hate my job, what job would I like? Figure it out because, I don’t know, isn’t the right answer.