A couple of you have seen me since I posted my last blog about fear and loathing in the afternoon. You kindly gave me an extra long hug and asked with raised eyebrows how I was doing, an obvious indication that you are fully aware how not fine I was doing a couple days ago. I’m not complaining; compassion is a beautiful thing. But it did make me think that a follow up post might be helpful. I often want to go back and add a post-script to the stories I tell. The lessons are never over, at least not for me.
So this week, I had planned to publish a blog about the first fear I mentioned – growing older, but then I came across a passage from one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott. She recently published a book with her son Sam, called Some Assembly Required about his first year of fatherhood. While reflecting on her days, she said
Life is mostly okay right now, sometimes lovely and peaceful and when it’s not, it’s hard and weird… and the scary parts feel like they could break you, but then those parts pass against all odds and then things are mostly okay again, temporarily, until they get hard and weird again and break your heart. It’s not a great system. If I were God’s West Coast rep, I’d come up with something easier, something you could bank on.
I read Anne’s words and I smiled, because that is exactly how I feel. One day last week, things were really hard and weird, and I sat and cried because it felt like it was breaking my heart, but by morning, things were okay again and by the weekend, they were really, really lovely. I checked out of reality and went to the beach with my kids for about 7 days straight. We surfed and swam, played with our little primos (cousins) and ate ice cream every day. If I had my own personal dictionary, that would be the definition of lovely and a whole host of synonyms, like bliss, and awesomeness and joy.
But school started for Kiko today; the others follow in a week and then I start a new teaching job. (Did I mention that I am going back into the classroom to teach at a university again? That’s a post-script for my blog on vocation I might need to write.) Everyone will be experiencing busyness and stress and the pressure to perform, so I can almost guarantee that after last week’s loveliness, hard and weird are just around the corner. But I want to do what I can to not get to the heartbreak stage too quickly again.
Instead of going in blind and coming up shocked like I seem to every fall, I am working on a strategy to keep me from going down the rabbit hole of fear and all that entails. I am going to start by being extra diligent about getting up early to walk. The rest of the day is dedicated to going really, really fast, so G (my personal endearment for the Big One upstairs) and I are going to go really, really slow. (God is an old soul after all and doesn’t like to be rushed.)
And what I am going to feel is this (I know that sounds awkward but thinking does me no good at all. My “thinking” is what gets me in trouble in the first place.) For those 20 or 30 minutes, I am going to feel loved. I am going to be God’s beloved. I am going to forget all the ways I fall short of the idea I have in my head of who I am ‘supposed to be.’ I am going to repeat the mantra I learned from Thich Nhat Hahn, the Buddhist monk and child of God, “Dear One, I am here for you.” I am going to say it for myself; I am going to say it for my children; I am going to say it for my students, my family and friends. If I can bring it to bear in my life, it encompasses all that true Love is – a kind, compassionate, joyful presence that brings freedom, not fear to all who experience it.
Now, that’s my plan, but we all know how plans work. We make them and then life breaks them, which was Fear #2 on my list – The Unknown. The only thing I really know is that things fall apart, sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small. I can count on the fact that things are going to be hard and weird and then okay and then lovely again. Saint Anne may not think it’s a great system, but I do think it’s something we can bank on. Even just knowing that’s how it works can help a little bit.
I also know that the more I can believe in Love, stay in Love, allow myself to experience true Love from the Love that never leaves, the more lovely things will be and that sounds pretty good to me.
So to all my readers and friends who are wondering if I’m okay, I am. I am breathing deeply, trying to be present in this moment, fearless and free and in Love.