I married an optimist. I’m reminded of this every time he “optimizes” a situation I see as doomsday with, “everything’s gonna be fine!” I think of myself as a realist with slight pessimistic tendencies.. which just means I’m a self-righteous pessimist. I live in a mind on overdrive, always processing how this moment could turn into a worst case scenario. On top of that, the past decade for me has involved cancer, death, emergency brain surgeries, ICU stays, seizures, and severe migraines.. most in the lives of my dearest family, the last one in my own life.
I came wired from the factory to see everything as a potential risk of death and dismemberment. Put that alongside the mixed bag of griefs and struggles of the past decade and it has only strengthened my tendency to be ruled by fear. I don’t want to hurt the way I did when I watched my dad die ever again. I don’t want to do CPR to my littlest sons body and watch him struggle for life. I don’t want to feel pain or the ghost of loss or the powerlessness that comes with being here in a human body. So I plan and worry and anticipate and fret over the next potential loss, the next potential crisis, the next moment of powerlessness when everything I love will be taken from me and I will be left bloodied and alone.
It’s a really inspiring and freeing way to live… or not.
Whether it’s maturity or Spirit or desire, or just a deeper wiring I haven’t tapped into, I’m getting tired of living this way. A friend of mine would ask, “how’s it working out for ya?” And I’m finally ready to admit I don’t think it’s good for the business of being here, and I am not as powerless as I originally thought. Each morning when I wake up, I hold a couple of powerful cards in my hand and I am the one who decides which card I’ll choose. I’ll choose the “Fear & Woe” card, walking around waiting for the bad things to happen and having my suspicions confirmed when they do, or I will choose the “Thank you, thank you, thank you” card. The “Thank you..” card involves a posture that assumes the Grace is conspiring to do good, magical things for me, and not harm, that I am safe and loved, and nothing can happen to me that will break me.
I’ve been waking up in anticipation, taking a big deep breath and choosing the “Thank you..” card. Then I’ve been watching for it.. the miracle, the magic, the wonder, the “majestical.” It’s shown up in more ways than I can count..A few mornings ago, immediately after my daily declaration, a hummingbird flew up three feet from my face, hovered for a bit, and looked at me in the eye while I was chatting with the husband and eating my breakfast outside by the river. Last night, there was a buck with big velvety antlers, standing right by the house we arrived to stay at. There was a rainstorm with “sun rain” and a double rainbow across the sky.. so intense. I have seen and heard more beauty around me and in me these past days in the forms of rivers and mountains and laughter and community.. and the beauty flows through me like the river – rushing out my pores and hands and onto the ones I love.
The unfortunate fact is this: Every life has good and bad, there’s no escaping it. The kids are going to get sick and throw up in the middle of the night and the smell is going to be horrific. The mosquitoes are going to bite and those bites are going to swell and itch in the most inconvenient, hard to reach in public, places. The headaches will come and go and there will always be those peripheral worries about money or future or purpose or the health of myself and my loved ones. But there’s so much that goes so right here and it would be a shame to miss it, to waste it, to let it be overshadowed things that don’t matter most. Each day, I have the power to choose.. I can continue on my journey of fear and woe, or I can tap into those deeper, truer wires in my being.. the ones that were there before any of my wires got crossed by the losses and damages of being on this planet.
I think it was William Blake who said we were put here to give voice to our astonishments. Norman Mailer said that each moment of our existence, we are either growing into more or retreating into less. We are either living a little more or dying a little bit. I think that’s a helpful way to look at our time here.. our lives can be hard, but they can also be a show-and-tell of all the love and wonder Grace is handing us each day. I think the force that burns up the stars and created the minutia of a hummingbird’s thorax is in the business of delighting us and delighting in us. The more I wake up in anticipation, the more I see God is love and God is saying “I love you” to me and you and all our beloved ones in ten thousand details throughout the day. So I pick the card that will give me life today, and I look out the window to see the sun rising and the moon setting behind the mountains. I recognize Grace, coming to visit me in all her state, and all I can say back is “thank you, thank you, thank you.”