There are days when joy comes sparingly. When despair sets in, and disappointment robs me of the present, the immediate. When I fall from grace. When I succumb to pain. And I am left empty. Today is such a day. And I am very aware of all that I am. And all that I am not. Of all I have, and all that I have lost. And then I feel my age and the bones seem brittle, the body weak. My hair graying, my skin translucent in places, blue-ish veins lie like intersecting highways beneath pale skin, and then it is mottled in other more visible places- on hands and shoulders exposed to the unforgiving sun’s radiation. I worry about my fair skin tone and am not as easily seduced by the sun as I was even a few years ago. My legs bear the scars of my younger years, when pregnancy took its toll. The skin on my belly, soft and flabby, now sags. My heels are cracked and peeling. Hands scarred, fingernails short and blunt out of necessity. The eyes are dark-rimmed. And sometimes. There is a hollowness inside. And I realize: my life is half over. Or maybe, it is three-quarters over. Or who really knows, but God? And since the only thing I know for sure is that I am closer to the end today than I was yesterday, I must needs make peace with who I am, where I am. Depressing as that may be. Or, maybe enlightening. Perhaps that is all I need to push me out of this black hole. Towards the light.
And it is when I am at my lowest that I can hear my heart whisper. And it calls me to persevere. To keep searching for joy. To never give up. And so, today, I make a list. Of all that is good in my life. Even when it seems there is nothing. And I must find the good in the midst of the pain because to fail to do so is to fail in my pursuit. To find the joy in the present. So that I might live out this day in peace and contentment, for the things of today are all that I am required to take charge over.
To be content and full, I must seek the good. And so, I begin. The good. This moment, I am feeling that there is goodness to be found. Of course there is, I know in my heart there is always something I can praise. I am sitting out in the open air, under a pine tree, within which two little birds are flitting about. A later, there are four. I wonder if they are looking for that stuff of which to make their homes. How easy it must be to be a bird. The sunlight falls unevenly through the branches. The water, directly before me, is swiftly drifting westward with the brisk breezes. The clouds are sparse and low-lying. The air feels fresh. It is quiet, save for the dogs barking across the road. The dog owners chatting it up about breeding dogs and the like. Smells of dinner waft across the way until they reach my nose, reminding me that it is mid-day, and mealtime yet again. I am not hungry.
This moment is peaceful. I am starved for quiet reflective time in which to think. And now that I have it, I feel like a child in a candy store. What to do first? I pour a mug of steaming coffee and inhale the brew. Nothing like a cup of fresh coffee sipped in the open air. I finish a novel part of a trilogy that I began during March break. Four months later, I am finally finished. I allow myself the time to read for pleasure- a luxury in my world. Freedom is what I feel this morning. And freedom feels good.
I have time to come and go as I please. I start another novel, this one more complicated than the latter, but I like the language and the twisting plot. I like to think that my brain is getting exercise. I read, and then later write at liberty, for no one is calling me to do this, or that. I hear no voices. Only that voice in my head telling me that it is okay to let go. To give in to my inner craving for solitude. To embrace this freedom, for it is hard-earned and has been long-time coming my way.
For me, solitude is another blessing to add to my list of that which is good. Freedom and solitude. Blessings of the day.
As a mother, I have made myself into a living martyr. I have sacrificed myself for my children and for the greater good of my family. Even hours ago, when I told Husband that I needed this alone time, I still felt guilt for not attending to the children. I was ready to jump in the van with them when they left. Conflicted and guilt-ridden, I could feel anger riding up my neck. In that moment, I wished I could just let it all go. And even now, I still feel the desire to give up that which binds me. This noose of duty that threatens to strangle me. I impatiently said I would go along for the ride, but my heart was telling me to stay. I am not one who makes plans decisively. I waffle back and forth each time a decision comes up, no matter how minor, and then feel like I am going to scream with the frustration at my dilemma. Why must I make mountains out of molehills? Perhaps it is the infrequency with which I feel I have freedom to make such decisions. I squander my time, knowing this opportunity may not come again. I don’t want to waste such valuable breaks from reality. And so, I weigh and consider every opportunity I have to be alone as if it might be my last. The noose tightens. I wish I did not feel so duty bound, so strangled by responsibility. I wish I was not so caught up in living up to that stereotype I have ingrained in my psyche, those images of mothers sitting on pedestals. When in reality, I am only driving myself into the ground; I am the furthest thing from an angel, as my family could certainly attest to the fact.
I embrace my imperfections and realize today that it is okay to be fallible and frail. It is good to be weak. For I am human. I will never attain that which I seek- perfection is out of my grasp. I am good enough just as I am. I may not be all that others are or accomplish what others have achieved; and I may not meet the needs of everyone within my charge. I may have only the resources to meet the bare minimum, and nothing more. But I am not required to fill up those voids. I am only required to fill the voids in my own life. And if I can live my life out in peace and find the freedom to be all that I was intended to be, then that is enough. I can feel fulfilled in knowing that I have lived my one and only life to the fullest.
So then: what is good? Goodness is all around me. For this I believe: that God is good. The Author of good. The Giver of good. And if I have been given eyes to see that if God is good, then so is this. This life, this time, this opportunity. I have oft been blinded to it by my own expectations of myself. For life and breath and health are good. Love and suffering are good. Freedom and responsibility are both good in their own right. The rush, the hustle bustle of the daily grind- the busyness of life. It is good. The moments of reflection make me see that all is good. And I can embrace the difficulties in my life because they are part of me and they shape my identity.
It is all good.
And the good that I see right now, in these quiet moments, will inspire me to do this again. To seize the day. To embrace those opportunities for solitude when they present. To rid myself of guilt. To allow myself the pleasure of being a person, not just a mother. To throw away silly expectations and see myself for who I really am. Just a mortal.
To see life for what it is, that brings me joy. And to know that life is pain and suffering, but it is also goodness and truth. Even if but for brief moments. Short interludes. That is the one ‘good thing’ that tops my list. And it will enable me to see beyond to so much more. And to continue my pursuit in spite of it all.