19 July 2010

Little Things

I do mean to continue my series of thoughts on normal life, but updating here just isn't the priority it used to be. Giving thanks, on the other hand, is always a priority.

  • The moment while watching BBC's Emma with Dave and Mirren playing on the couch between us, when I realized I was relaxed and happy. 
  • Watching my water baby kick around in the pool while Daddy held her.
  • The happy faces prunes bring (seriously, the child loves prunes . . . spurns just about everything else, but loves prunes. Go figure.)
  • Sleeping through the night!
  • Finding that it doesn't have to be perfect to be good.
  • Anticipating vacation
  • Finding out we're still loved by old friends
  • Playing "Where's mama?" (over and over and over again)
  • The sweet sensation of being held, body mind and soul
  • Sun-dried skin

12 July 2010

Thank you

31-40

Generous offers from people I barely know
Beads on a string
The ability to comfort her, and be comforted in the process
Happy morning smiles
Joyful banging
Morning coffee, when the smell is as good as the taste
How many people love her, and how much they love
Giving driving directions from out of state
A job for Isaac
Gentle light, easing through my windows

11 July 2010

Pain

In my last post about sacred days, I mentioned pain. The pain that lies bring.

Several years ago, I spasmed one of the tiny muscles in my neck, and was in the most pain I’ve ever felt. Middle of the night, I’m screaming myself awake. Can’t move, just gasp and hope it goes away.

I had a friend who heard my cries and came, bearing little pills that helped. I swallowed, and the pain begin to ebb. Not gone, but less.

Believing lies is like that. I lay, knowing that it hurts, it hurts, it hurts, but not able to find relief. It takes another to bring truth, to lay open the thing that hurts so hurt can flow away.

When I believe that all “real life” must have adventure, excitement, or meaning that I comprehend and even create, I look at the life I’m actually living and feel pain.

My days, filled with working, caring for my home, loving on my husband and my baby, are a lot of things, but they aren’t exciting. And when I compare them with the life The Lie says I should be living, my days feel downright tawdry in comparison.

I wonder if I’m doing it right, and what’s wrong with me that my life isn’t filled with all of those things.

I feel pain.

I feel the pain of not being good enough, because if I was then I’d have that life I’m supposed to have.

I feel the pain of having, somehow, failed at something I don’t quite understand.

I feel the pain of being discontent, of not being comfortable in my own shoes or even my own home, of wanting more and more and more and never feeling full.

And I respond to that pain.

Sometime after I start wondering and usually while I’m still wandering through my thoughts, I stop inhabiting the life I have. I breathe in and out and I fulfill my tasks, but I hate every moment of it, and myself in all of it. I come to despise the things I have to do every day and the fact that I don’t have the time or the money to pursue everything that interests me.

I pull back, in, up, wherever I can to go protect myself and I look for the fulfillment other places. The life I have feels empty, so I look for a new one, look to fill that emptiness with something that will fill the space to overflowing.

I think some of the “soft” addictions that so many in our culture struggle with come from this sort of emptiness. Normal days don’t satisfy, so we look to supplement. The internet, the television, video games, and more can all serve to make this place feel more full.

But they can’t fill us.

Cognitively, we all know that. But still we try, because most of us don’t want to walk out on our lives entirely. Yet we feel pain, and we do what we can to alleviate that.

It’s a never-ending circle of unhappiness where discontent leads to pain leads to filling leads to more discontent. And we feel like we’ll never get off.

06 July 2010

Starting Out with Thanks

21. Little 4th of July dresses.
22. The weight of her in my arms.
23. Grey mornings.
24. An extra day with them.
25. The joy of enough.
26. Peace in the tumult of our lives right now.
27. Writing again.
28. Leaving them both asleep.
29. The warmth and weight of his hands.
30. Half-way morning smiles.

04 July 2010

A Lie

Fourth grade, just starting to notice boys as something more than objects to be avoided, and I get a note.

“You’re pretty. If you want to go out with me, raise your hand at 2:01.”

I looked around the room. Could it really be possible? Someone thought I, still the new kid even after a year and the crybaby, was pretty enough? Nice enough? Smart enough?

I showed it to the other girls. Not all friends, but the closest I had.

“Raise your hand,” they said at recess, and again as the clock struck 2. “Raise your hand.”

I caught the just-about titter before I put my hand in the air, but not before my heart broke. He didn’t think I was pretty enough, but they thought I was dumb enough. No one liked my hair or my eyes, they just wanted to see if I’d fall, if they could get me, again.
My vigilance saved me from humiliation, but not from pain.

That’s one of the problems with lies: they hurt.

Sometimes the pain is pins stuck into deep places, like it was for me that day. Other times, it ebbs out so slowly that we miss it unless we look at things from just the right angle.

I think there’s a lie around that’s causing pain like that, pain that’s not even pain until we touch it. Pain many of us get so used to that we don’t even notice the things we’re doing to fill up the holes it leaves behind.

The lie? That truly living means our days are filled with adventure, excitement, and meaning we create. That if we do anything other than follow our dreams / travel around the world / join a cause, we’re only putting in time. Or wasting our time.

It’s not that making our dreams come true and doing exciting things is wrong. It’s not. But most of us don’t have the money, time, or energy to live in those places all the time.

In fact, if we did, we’d wear out, flame out, or burn out.

But the lie tells us we must live this way, or we’ve failed. We’ll get to the end of things and wish we’d chosen differently, wish we’d made our days our own instead of letting them come and go, ebb and flow, bringing what they bring.

The lie ignores the fact that a day is a gift. Each day is a gift. Life itself is a gift, and not just when we feel like we’re really living.

So I propose the following thoughts, to counteract the lie and bring some healing to the pain: 
If the now is as much of a gift as the not yet, maybe our task is different than what we’ve learned it to be.

Maybe instead of creating experience and meaning, we’ll find the meaning of each day as we live it, whatever it brings.

Maybe life is less about how much we fit in and more about how open our hands are to receive.

Maybe these days we’re given are holy places, brimming with more than we’ve let ourselves see.

If the little girl who got that note can learn to look into eyes that say, “I love you,” and trust him, then healing is possible. We can learn to meet each day, no matter what it holds, and say, “These? These are sacred days.”

02 July 2010

Saying Goodbye

For me, saying "goodbye" carries connotations of moving vans, packing tape, and stacks of boxes. I remember last playtimes with my friends, and the strange feeling of walking away knowing that I wouldn't be back.  I remember getting in the car and driving away, feeling for all the world like I was going on a vacation instead of traveling to a new life.

Dave worked his last day on Wednesday. Even with more than 6 months of notice, that goodbye has made this week bittersweet. We didn't drive away, but we're very much in a different place than we were a year ago, or even a week ago.

Right now we're walking a twisty path. In some ways, it's easy going. We're not climbing mountains or negotiating crevasses with ice axes and crampons. On the other hand, it often feels more like wandering than hiking. Instead of following a trail, we're on the lookout for the next cairn, hoping that someone bothered to mark the path in front of us or else we risk getting lost.

Fifteen months ago, I was living a different life. Sometimes, I feel like the only thing connecting my life in April 2009 with my life now is me.

As I've walked this crazy path, I've pondered and meditated and contemplated. Since many of these thoughts center around certain themes, I've thought about starting a new blog. But right now I crave continuity. I cherish the thought of being the person who has lived these different lives and who unites them. And so over the next . . . as yet undefined period of time, I'm going to be posting the fruits of my wanderings (and occasionally the wanderings themselves). I think they have the potential to change this blog, to move it beyond commentary on my life, what's going on, and the people in it, into something else.

I can't help but wonder where we'll be fifteen months from now. October 2011, what do you have for us?