“One of the clearest signals that something healthy is afoot is the impulse to weed out, sort through, and discard old belongings.” ~Julia Cameron
If Julia Cameron is right, there must be something very healthy afoot in my life right now. I have been positively itchy lately to go through and get rid of things. It’s on my mind all the time, and I’m driven to keep it going.
I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to people and relations appearances can be deceiving, words can be used to trick and to hide as much to expose, feelings can’t always be trusted, and that the “truth” in any given situation usually depends on who you ask. In short, there is seldom an absolute truth to any interaction between human beings, and even the truth that can be reliably nailed down in some way is likely to be interpreted differently by each participant and each viewer.
For many years, this made me hesitant to trust my own perceptions of situations I found myself in. I distrusted my feelings, questioned my motives, doubted my observations. Most of all, I ignored my intuition. At the slightest hint of contradiction to my own opinions, I accepted the “truth” of those around me above my own knowing.
“Here’s what I’ve decided: the very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallways and touching the walls on both sides. I can’t tell you how good it feels.” ~Barbara Kingsolver
I’ve written several times about my struggles with hope, the way that I resist it, the way that it survives deep inside even when I think I’ve sacrificed it, the way it rises from its own ashes. For me, hope has long been both a painful struggle and a necessity, and the attempt to integrate those two aspects of it has not been a smooth road by any means.
“Writing makes a map, and there is something about a journey that begs to have its passage marked.” ~ Christina Baldwin
Tomorrow’s blog post will be my 500th post that I’ve published here on this blog. Because I’ve taken some longish sabbaticals at times from blog writing, it’s taken me almost three years to get this far.
This blog began as a safe space to record my journey. It continues to be that space for me, but over time, it’s also become the map showing where I’ve been. It’s the record of what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown through the experiences I’ve encountered along the way.
I discovered something about myself today that surprised me.
A friend asked me whether I believed that God ever stops knocking at people’s hearts. Even though this is not a subject that I’ve spent much time considering, my rather confident response was that I believe God only stops knocking when there is no one left who has not responded to that knock.
This is a very different answer than I would once have given, but the change in my answer was not what surprised me. What surprised me was where my assurance came in giving that believe.
Today marked the end of both the semester and of my Christmas “doing” for this year. All gifts have been made, purchased, and given (or at least shipped). Cards have been given or mailed. Baking is done. I can now rest.
And as I settled in tonight to rest from the busyness of the last couple of weeks, I had a startling realization: I actually enjoyed my gift giving this year! This probably sounds odd to most people, but gift giving occasions (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) are usually times of intense anxiety and stress for me.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure in fact whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.” ~Haruki Murakami
I’ve had the occasion several times just recently to reflect back on the storms that I’ve been through the last couple of years. It amazes me to look back at all that I’ve weathered and how well I’ve come through those storms.
A friend of mine whom I’ve not seen in a long time surprised me by driving into town to take me to dinner tonight. (This is a several hour drive from the next state.) This is one of those friendships where we pick right up where we left off even if we haven’t talked in ages. We’ve known each other for a little over fourteen years now, which is the longest anyone (besides family) has stayed in a close relationship with me since I have moved so often during my life.
It was a really wonderful time of catching up on news, sharing about our personal areas of growth right now, and remembering old times. I was reminded tonight just how valuable it is to have people in my life that remember the me that I used to be.
Today has been a day of borderline-migraine sinus headache all day, so I have not been at even a fraction of my best, but I am pleased to notice that I have come a long way in accepting that I am doing my best at any given moment than I was when I wrote the post below a little over two years ago.
Given that I have very little brain power tonight for writing anything original, I have decided to share this old post with you as a way of noting how much I’ve grown … and noting that it is possible to create change in this area. That is very good news!
Oriah Mountain Dreamer published a blog post last week entitled Doing Our Best in which she asked the following question: “What if you and I and every person on the planet, in this moment are doing the best we can with the inner and outer resources we have?” The rest of her post went on to explore how we might see both ourselves and others differently if we look at life this way, and I strongly encourage reading her thoughts on the subject. I would do her an injustice by trying to summarize them here.
However, the part of her thinking that really captured my attention was the idea that if I accept that we really are doing the best we can with what we have, then surest route to improving our best is not blame, trying harder, or punishment—but rather an increase in the inner and outer resources that…
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ~Mary Oliver
I’ve always loved this quote because it’s taken me years to understand that the darkness in my own life is a gift. It often does not feel that way at the time, but it is a gift nevertheless. And recognizing it as such in the moment, even when I can’t see it, makes the darkness easier to bear.