I recently realized something.
I didn’t notice before because, generally speaking, I believe I live in a musical wherein I am the lead (with the best voice), and everything is amazing and the so-called “strangers” around me at the gas station or the grocery store are in actuality extras–supporting cast, if you will–just waiting to sing:
“Look there she goes, that girl is strange, no question! Dazed and distracted, can’t you tell?”
I am completely serious.
So, I tend to not really care what other people are thinking about me, because I am the star.
And also, because I assume people are just as excited as I am to have any part at all in “Misty: THE MUSICAL”.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to get a piece of that action?
So, it always comes as somewhat of a surprise to me when I discover the dark underbelly of first world suburban America.
This is a problem that is pervasive throughout store aisles and restaurants and historic downtown walking districts and parks and well, just about everywhere that people have been educated beyond their intelligence.
Complete strangers feel they are obligated out of some perverse sense of duty to tell others that they are doing it wrong.
Whatever “it” is, I guarantee, you are doing it wrong.
Here are just a few things I am doing all wrong in no particular order:
- Food. No matter what I feed my children, it is wrong. According to popular health blogs, the only thing I can feed my kids is free range, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, non-GMO, cruelty free, fair trade oxygen from the Fiordland region of New Zealand.
- Exercise. I am doing it wrong. And, even if I am doing it almost right, I’m not doing enough of it. Also, I’m not enjoying it enough.
- Helping other people. If I donate to help a person in another country, what about people here who need help? If I want to help people learn to read, what about people who don’t know how to cook healthy meals? The list goes on and on. I think that it is pretty clear that no matter how I choose to help people, someone, somewhere, thinks I’m wrong. And they are not going to be quiet about it any longer.
- Parenting. Attachment, cage-free, whatever–someone thinks I am wrong. And others who don’t agree with me will give me snide, condescending looks in the Target Dollar Spot area.
I know this is not a surprise to anyone but me, because I don’t often pay attention the social media stuff or people in Target (because, the musical thing), but it was surprising to me that people can be so ignorant.
I did want to take a moment to make it clear how right they are.
Often, I am doing it wrong.
Sometimes, epically wrong.
You know why?
Because I am willing to try even though I know I will fail sometimes.
And, sometimes you are doing it wrong, too.
Because we’re going where the snarky people aren’t willing to go: we’re willing to risk falling on our faces and looking like idiots because we know that’s the only way we get better and make the world better.
We are being unique. True individuals. And that’s what the naysayers are terrified of.
They’re scared of different. Afraid of trying something new.
I watched some of them at Arches National Park a few months ago. After giving condescending looks to all the people around them, they came to the edge of the paved sidewalk.
There was a clearly marked trail going down into a canyon. The parking lot was visible from most of the trail.
The three cool people just stood looking at the unpaved rocks and dirt and squirmed.
“Do we walk down the trail?” they asked each other uncomfortably.
“It’s not really a trail, is it? There is, like, dirt everywhere.”
In the end they gingerly tip toed along the first three feet of rock and dirt and took a selfie to prove they had been adventuring at Arches.
I’ve thought about that a lot. I think they really were afraid of trying something new.
Afraid of different.
Afraid, of, “like, dirt…everywhere.”
So I’m not upset when people mutter under their breath about my weight or the kids or my poor food choices at Costco (I am NOT the one eating the case of Twix bars. No one there would guess that “family size” for us is actually at least two cases of anything. And no, I don’t usually condone corn syrup, but it was a special occasion. They were all out of non-GMO, free range pure oxgen).
I’m not upset because I realize, just like the villagers in Beauty and the Beast, that most of the time when people are critical it’s because they are either ignorant or afraid.
And being mad or offended back at them will never help ignorance or fear.
I find the cure is to be kind and, at times, act oblivious.
I just pretend I didn’t hear the comment about how my kids are hogging the swings (we have a 90 second time limit if others are waiting). Most of the time, I get that people are scared of seeing ten kids rushing toward the swings. I know I would be.
I keep smiling when the person behind me in line at the grocery store shoots me death rays because I always have at least 3,000 items. And then I sincerely ask if they’d like to go in front of me.
I’d like to say it’s just out of trying to build bridges, but it’s also because I don’t want to get home faster. I am alone. Outside. With unlimited fair-trade dark chocolate and Fiji water. Around adults. I am in no rush.
I don’t worry when people snicker at me when I am out “walking”. Yes, I look ridiculous. Yes, I am huge. The people snickering don’t know my story. That’s okay. Sometimes we end up friends, because I am willing to share my story and be oblivious to the snickering. Sometimes, I just keep moving.
What’s important is that I am attempting the impossible.
Like a star.
In hot pink Altras.
Don’t worry if you think you’re doing it wrong, because at some point you probably are.
I promise, you are doing better than you think.
Because you are still here, realizing you make mistakes, still learning and still trying.
I am making history.
And, I am not going to stop.
No, I am going to keep going.
It’s hard sometimes to be a history-maker when I am in the middle of history.
If only I had the benefit of being able to step out of time and go in the future and be able to see my history making from where it’s safe and sound. From where the sacrifice is just a nice story with a beautiful ending, where people can skip the bad parts if they want to.
Because right here and now I am in the middle of it, and it’s a mess, sometimes.
It really seems like most days I am outgunned and outnumbered and outfinanced, but I know I am going to win in the end.
Sometimes, I am in the laundry room folding the clothes and I suddenly remember how important I am to the world, and I have to catch my breath. I look down at the socks and the shirts and the trousers, and I fold them a little more carefully, almost reverently.
Because I am making history.
The fresh smell of clean linen on the bed, the picking up of the toys at midnight because they got too tired, the staying up late at night with the sick one, the endless listening to everything from rockets to fire engines to fairies to boys to games to pizza–driving, jobs and what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life: this isn’t just ethereal–it’s tangible.
It creates a real net of safety and security and love that conquers literally…all.
I look around at the ten people still at home who I have the privilege of loving and serving and teaching, and I see history being made.
I see people who are passionate and not afraid to question the status quo.
People who are fiercely independent and who love all humankind fiercely.
People who don’t forget to look up and dream about the stars.
I see people who seem to grasp something I didn’t when I was younger.
They have an innate understanding that they are not the center of the universe–that they are one tiny spark in the long history of the world, but that spark can mean something.
They are better than I ever was.
Sure, they have their faults. They are human, after all, but I still think it has been an honor to participate in the most amazing experiment.
I have been able to participate in finding out what happens when two people who love each other, even imperfectly, love something bigger than themselves.
We had dreams, you know. My husband and I. We wanted to Make A Difference. We had great, amazing plans.
And they were nothing compared to what we get to do.
I can’t take credit for this.
I am more like a bystander. All I did was love them and do their laundry and listen and be tough sometimes when it would have been easier to give in, and I stood back and watched that spark ignite.
Sometimes I wish they weren’t so independent and strong and courageous. Sometimes it scares me how courageous they are.
How willing they are to face anything to defend truth or to protect other people. Even if one of them is threatened at gunpoint.
Yes, that happened.
That’s who I live with. People like that. How could I want to do or be anything else?
I wish I could always have them near me. But, no. They will go.
They will fly.
And they will burn.
And they will leave their mark. Even if it’s just in a small house in a small town–a gunman and a boy who dares to say, “I am not afraid.”
“What will happen if I shoot you?”
“Well, I will probably die. But I am not afraid.”
Nothing else I could ever do–nothing–will ever be able to compare to the fact that I get to have a front row seat to watching my people light up the world.
And I am so consumed by it that I can’t seem to find time to do anything else.
I honestly get distracted when I try to do all the “important things” people seem to spend so much time doing. I can’t do other things because this is it for me.
I know it is. Everything else is so--ordinary.
Our people–our little children, our young people, our budding adults–I am telling you–they have the potential to blow us all away.
They just need us to give them safety and a purpose greater than what we sometimes give them. It’s more than getting into the right college or doing great in high school, or sports, or whatever it is, or having a great job, or even following “their dreams”…
They need to know that their purpose is to change the world. To rid it of hate and evil. Every other success and dream they have should be with that in mind–how it will help them to make the world lighter and better and good.
They have the power to change it all.
We just have to be there and give them that purpose and stand back and watch them burn like the sun.
And, yes, they will blow us all away.
It’s been unseasonably warmish here this February. The other day the kids wanted to eat popsicles outside.
Okay, it’s not that warm, but whenever my kids see a patch of blue sky and sunshine, if the temperature is above 40 in February, it’s summer to them. And they eat popsicles as they turn blue and ask if we can open up the pool.
I have some feelings about this winter, though. I complain about the cold and the snow. Every time I get in my car, I am actually surprised at how cold it is.
I don’t know why I do this, but I do. The cold always catches me off guard, perhaps because of my sunny disposition. 🙂
Anyway, this winter went by really fast, mostly. Some days did seem to drag on forever, but here I am on February 15th and there is not a single patch of snow on the ground and people are seeing baby flowers popping up…
and it feels like spring is just around the corner, because it is.
A few weeks ago, I would have laughed at the idea that it would be this warm, this bright and sunny. In fact, a few weeks ago I thought winter would never, ever die.
And I know it probably will get cold again–winter will have one last stand against the inevitable oncoming spring, but it will be a moment and then–sunshine and green grass and leaves on the trees….
Isn’t that how it is with grief? It seems like it will never end sometimes–and then suddenly–quite suddenly–it feels like it’s time to go on. To let it fade away. The ice begins to thaw, and it feels like perhaps spring may come again–there might even be some blue.
Even that small ray of sunshine feels so very warm in comparison to the cold and dark that I have grown accustomed to, yet am constantly surprised at the biting intensity of the frigid winters of grief I experience.
And it seems that just when I decide I can let go of it all and open my heart to the idea of feeling really, truly happy, it comes again–a blizzard of hurt and anger and sadness and darkness, and the force of it takes my breath away.
Then it’s gone and I am standing in green grass growing at my feet wondering how I can make sense of this beautiful, terrible, wonderful life.
And then I can say goodbye to certain things, certain heavy drifts of grief I have been carrying, and I feel lighter and warmer and brighter.
Oh, I know that winter will come again, and, like the snow that falls, each frigid flake of grief is unique and different and I wonder at how I can feel that many different shades of pain, but I know it is somewhere out there in my future, silently waiting for me.
It is comforting to know that there will always be spring and that the winters are part of this journey I take around the sun, over and over. There is purpose in it.
The overcoming of the winters of my grief changes me every time.
I become stronger and deeper and, yes, kinder for every winter I face. I am better able understand the grief every human being who has ever loved bears until at last we each, in our time, finish our final circle around the sun.
And by then, I know I will understand that through all of the winters, there was always the promise of spring, and beyond the spring, an eternal summer where the light never stops shining and the grief is forever melted away in the warmth of “a grace too powerful to name.”
The world is a different place than it was before.
I don’t know how I feel about that. Do I feel it so keenly because I am getting old? Maybe, I guess. But I feel it.
I feel like time is less relevant, because it stops and starts and speed up and slows down recklessly, and it’s kind of scary, like when you don’t realize there is a step and you think there is one and there isn’t and you are momentarily falling and disoriented and your heart starts to race because it feels like there is nowhere to land.
And I feel like it makes everyone feel a little nervous, even though they may not know why. I watch everyone snapping photographs, ignoring life that is going on around them in a vain attempt to capture time and control it. And we can’t.
The world changes and I hold my breath and try to step back and see it from a distance because I don’t want to be afraid.
And, you know, it’s good. In spite of the capriciousness of time, if you step back until it is quiet, it is so clear how good life really is.
There are still great unknowns and things out there we have yet to discover, and we are so lucky to be here, right now. I tell my children that every day.
You are so lucky.
(And they know if they don’t agree, I will remind them that they do NOT have to live with pants eating plants, so they really are very lucky.)
There is so much good we need to do, and so much good to find–so many things to discover and so many things on the horizon.
It’s hard not to lose your way, simply because the possibilities are endless. It’s exciting and terrifying and wonderful.
The world is changing, and we are changing it.
We make the difference, we spread the good.
Everything we choose to become ripples across the earth, because we are all linked together, you and I, and our enemies and our friends.
We are all part of the human family, out here, alone in a vast solar system, on the edge of an even more enormous galaxy in an endless, timeless universe.
Here we all are. In this together.
Every choice we make echoes across time and reverberates through every other human being on this earth.
We are powerful.
It is our day to day, humdrum, little recognized kindness and goodness that truly powers the beauty and energy that fills the earth and moves people to try harder to be a little better.
I wonder if we even comprehend how our actions and thoughts of good and the choice to face another day with grace and courage truly effect the entire world.
If you feel like you are not making much of a difference, please know that you are. You are important to this world. You in all your flawed glory. And when it gets hard, because it does, remember it.
Life, after all, is made up of little things. Our life, our being, physically, is made up of little heart beats. Let that little heart stop beating, and life in this world ceases. The great sun is a mighty force in the universe, but we receive the blessings of his rays because they come to us as little beams, which, taken in the aggregate, fill the whole world with sunlight. The dark night is made pleasant by the glimmer of what seem to be little stars; and so the true Christian life is made up of little Christ-like acts performed this hour, this minute—…wherever our life and acts may be cast. –David O. McKay
After all, a waterfall begins with only one drop of water, and look what comes from that.*
*From the film, The Power of One
Recently, we realized we had lost three birth certificates somehow.
I am absolutely almost forty seven percent positive that they are somewhere in the house, but I knew for sure they wouldn’t turn up until I got new ones, so I embarked on a journey to the Bureau of Vital Records.
I walked into the nondescript, ugly building and I could feel my heart rate increasing exponentially. As I heard the door close behind me, I have to admit I was having second thoughts. I have this irrational fear of drab carpet and sickening blue-gray painted walls that have never felt the touch of soap and water on them.
The walls were adorned with old, wrinkled posters, ripped 8/12 x 11 hastily printed papers that oozed disdain and contempt at the customers of the establishment. One said, “We will be happy to help you when you are done with your cell phone conversation.”
I felt my not-so-inner sassy self rising in protest. Perhaps the people who come to this establishment are on their cell phones because they know what they are getting into and they want to have some kind of contact with the outside world.
Just in case.
Just in case they can’t get out, they feel like if they keep contact, keep holding on, that someone might be able to rescue them in the event that time and space simultaneously collapse in a heap under the pressure of bureaucratic red tape and a honed sense of indifference that could at any moment turn the sun into a cold mass of ice.
The black hole represents the Bureau of Vital Statistics sucking the warmth of the Sun (represented here in blue)
I also had to fill out shot exemption forms, not because I don’t believe in some vaccines, but because I believe in taking my time with them.
So, I also got informed that because I am doing this, I am costing the state of Utah $25 per child in the event that my child infects the student body of their school with some vaccine preventable disease, or in the event that my child’s not-as-vaccinated self causes stress to the school nurse.
“I homeschool,” I said to the woman at the counter, “so this doesn’t make sense to me. We aren’t going to cost the state of Utah anything because we don’t take advantage of the government school system. This paper says the $25 is to cover the cost of school nurses and inconvenience to the school. So, shouldn’t that fee be waived for me?”
She looked at me, the indifference reaching new levels of apathy,
“That’s not my department.”
Oh. Well, that’s fine then. It’s not her department. As if that is the end of that.
I then added,
“We are vaccinated for most things, it’s just that I want to go slower than the recommended schedule.” To which she replied,
“I’m not here to judge you.” Then, “It will still be $25.”
Ugh. I tried to examine my feelings as my hands started shaking as I completed the forms and tried not to touch anything.
I wondered if I could ask them to give me $25 to cover the cost of whatever flu or disease I was going to catch spending time in the building, but I realized that probably wasn’t anyone’s department.
I sat down gingerly, and looked around. It was so depressing. Here on the wall in dirty, scratched up plexiglass were forlorn looking signs for birth, death, stillbirth, and marriage certificates.
Then I realized.
I wasn’t nervous, I was angry.
And with the anger, there was a little terror.
It’s the terror you feel when you realize that something is very, very wrong and you feel powerless to stop it.
I wanted to scream at the heartlessness of it all. How dare they? How dare anyone diminish and trivialize the recording of human existence to this drab, dirty place? Why, there should be beauty on the walls and bright colors and vivid–everything!
This is life. The record of souls who have journeyed here.
Our glorious entrances to the planet earth, our deaths–tragic or well fought or lonely or magnificent–marriages that conquered dragons, children too pure to take even a breath…all here.
All around me.
There should be music.
There should be…something.
I escaped the jaws of the Office of Vital Records, after they picked my pocket and perhaps stole a bit of my soul. I wondered as I left, what could I possibly do to stop this kind of thing–this evil of indifference, this careless attitude that the greatest, most momentous events of mortality had been relegated to this, simply because they needed to be counted.
How ironic that the act of counting each life and death resulted in the feeling of it counting for nothing at all.
I wanted to shout to the people all around me, all of whom seemed oblivious,
“Every life matters and every life is worth the whole value of the universe, of infinite universes!”
And I felt I sort of had to warn myself to never, ever become indifferent when the mass of humanity and suffering and life and death seems too much. To never, ever, when faced with the overwhelming needs of humanity, to say, “That’s not my department.”
And to always remember that dealing with the whole of humanity starts with dealing with one. And letting that one be counted.
We are capable of so much more than we believe. Do you know why? Because we are worth the whole of heaven and earth and stars and galaxies and nebulas and–forever. You are. I am. Every single person who ever lived and who ever was even a thought in the mind of heaven is. We are capable of loving and caring and counting each life.
I shake my fist and stomp my feet at the Bureau of Vital Statistics in defiance of treating the vital with such disdain. In defiance I promise to care about every human being and the glory that they are.
So there! Will you join me?
When I write my blog, WordPress has something called “Distraction Free Writing” mode. They have clearly never met me. For me there is no such thing.
In spite of my distraction, or maybe because of it, I am just sitting here in the living room in the dark and everyone is taken care of and I am breathing and I realize how very much I love my life.
My life is interesting and full of hijinks and antics and madcap adventures. It is not what I expected or wanted, but it is everything I wished for, once upon a time.
Once upon a time I was a little girl and an idealist (I still am). I just wanted…well, everything. I wanted to have it all.
And all, to me, was not this. But it actually IS this. This is my everything. This life. This sitting in the night in the dark, alone and quiet and wondering if I can survive tomorrow.
Once upon a time I wanted to be in the front lines. I wanted to fight. And now, here I am, fighting the most intense battle in the history of humanity–the battle for good to triumph over the powers of darkness.
This is How I Fight The Powers of Darkness. The Fact That He Exists and Is Happy…
Sometimes it feels like nothing. It feels like scrambled eggs and forgetting peanut butter when I went to the store and running up and down the stairs and laundry and what does s-a-t sound like for the hundredth time, and it feels very…tiny.
But it isn’t. It’s my dream. And I have created something here that is almost flickering into extinction–a home that is far from coarse noise and full of love. Real, messy, mundane love. The kind of love that notices a sigh or a downcast glance or the slightest change in the tone of voice that indicates a need or a cry for help.
I went to the mall today. I hadn’t really been to a mall in quite a while. It was a beautiful place. It was lovely. A creek flows through it, there are fountains and beautiful sunshine flows in and around it. It really was beautiful, but I found myself walking through it and it almost felt like I was the only real thing there.
The building, the stores, the monuments to the wants of a very affluent society seemed almost ghostly to me.
And I realized it’s because I deal with soul loving and healing and that is a thing of forever.
I am loving my people, and they come from the stars.
What are malls to such a thing?
What Are Malls to Daniel Job’s Masterpiece?
It’s not easy, and it’s not fun all the time. It’s easy to want to create a distraction sometimes. I mean, when my nearly three year old can’t figure out the difference between soap and toothpaste…after two months of toothpaste-y hands and soapy teeth…well, it’s difficult to not want to be distracted.
But, luckily, I have a “Distraction Free Parenting Mode” button I can push, and then it’s all much better.
I have Joy, and because of her I also have Perspective.
It pulls out the noise and the sidebars and reminds me that toothpaste as soap is just part of the glorious time we have here. And soap as toothpaste? Well, I don’t know anyone else who does that so maybe it’s just us.
My Soap Is Toothpaste Girl…
I love my life. I used to be so mad that I was still here after Joy wasn’t. I felt guilty for every breath I took without her.
Now, I am amazed at every moment.
I am starting to see what I know she saw all along…