Words That Need To Be Whispered

This is the best thing that could have happened to me,” she whispered, as if to sneak the truth in through the back door. 

My friend understood that revealing her relief about the current pandemic restrictions might be met with hostility.  Thus the need to whisper words that are too controversial to utter aloud.

Suffering is socially acceptable at times like these.  Tales of loss and devastation are broadcast to the masses.  Attention and sympathy abound for those who are withering.

For those who experience something other than melancholy, silence is the safest option lest they risk being accused of insensitivity or labeled as privileged.

My friend is neither tone-deaf nor unaffected.  She, like many, has lost her income and is hunkering down with her young son.  Her husband works on the front line.  She has reasons to worry.  But she chooses to admit that her sacrifices are a fair exchange for unforeseen benefits.

She has less money but more time.  Fewer activities but more cuddles with her son.   And magically, the pain in her body has waned in the absence of a physically stressful job.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic slammed its fist down on the world, we were Busy. Mindless. Careless. We lived life based on a litany of responsibilities and desires with hardly a thought about the effects of our choices.  Now we are reduced to focusing on basic needs while weighing them against risk.  Should I risk exposure to the virus for a loaf of bread?

There isn’t a person on earth who hasn’t had to adjust.  And no one, not even the experts can predict how this story ends.  This is good news.  Because ‘not knowing’ is where creativity and growth are born. 

This is rich soil we’re standing on.  There is gold beneath our feet, waiting to be mined.  We need not look any further than inside of ourselves to discover the gems that belong to us alone.

Those things you don’t miss from pre-pandemic days are a clue to where your life was leaking, informing you of where you gave away your precious resources. 

The people and practices you pine for beg you to examine their place in your life.  Do you need them or want them and why?  Are you willing to be surprised by the answer?

A platform for self-discovery has been delivered to your door courtesy of Social Isolation. Resist the urge to turn away.  Entertain it in bits until you dare to look it square in the eyes and ask, “What message do you have for me?”

There is no rush.  No obligation.  Only an invitation.  If you choose to seek yourself you will likely encounter a demon or two along the way.  In time you will see that Fear creates holograms, not actual beasts. 

 

Those who live through this, and especially those who thrive through it, will influence the future.  This is the way of adversity, spinning its magic in disguise.  Pain is not for naught. 

You need only bear witness.  Don’t pay more than you have to for clarity.  Blame, worry, anger….are dark indulgences that will lead you astray.

During this extraordinary and astonishing call to presence, may we do our best to remain open to possibility, to respond thoughtfully, and to be kind to others and ourselves.   

May we avoid the temptation to judge and criticize, opting instead to direct our energy toward understanding and compassion.

In short, may we be the sort of people that we can be proud of when all is resolved. 

And perhaps, be able to proclaim in un-hushed voice, the full breadth of discoveries we’ve encountered in this unfamiliar time.

Thank You For This

With my 43rd birthday in sight, I feel like I’m approaching a finish line.  As I gaze at the month ahead of me, the home stretch, I realize that I am no more immune to death now than I was when I first experienced my premonitions of death at age 42.  I am acutely aware that if Heaven wants me, it can grab me off the race track of life whether I’m thirty years from the ‘finish line’ or thirty days.  There are no rules, no fair and square, where death is concerned.

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The Sweetness of Clarity

Today I was blindsided by chaos.  I imagined it would be a mostly ordinary day – kids to school, Mom to work, and husband on a rare business trip.  Silly me.

The drama actually began late last night when teen daughter waged a war against chores and chicken for dinner and all things parent.  Poor husband sought consolation, “Can you believe her?! ”  To which I responded with my go-to justification, “She’s a teenager.”  When rational explanation fails, this single fact makes it all better.  Teenhood is not a permanent condition.  Doors were slammed, lights flicked off, and sleep was welcomed.  Tomorrow would be a new day……A day that began too early.  Midnight to be exact.

Like Cinderella who transformed at the stroke of midnight, dear son turned into a vomiting machine. This, as you fellow parents know, is a game changer.  Instantly, my day went from busy/manageable to crazy/juggling.

As it were, I was scheduled to drive my usually-bus-riding daughter and a friend to school for the Architecture Fair.  SHOOT!   This is the event that husband was supposed to attend to fulfill the ‘at least one parent should show support’ thesis.  But he is away on business which means I should go. But when? How?

The phone rings, breaking up the rapid-fire problem-solving in my head.  It is friend, wondering if we’ve forgotten her or are we just running late?  Scrambling to the car, bagel in one hand, trifold display in the other, we settle into a comfortably illegal pace on the highway when teen daughter exclaims (too hysterically) that the written portion of her project has been forgotten at home.  Would I go back and get it after dropping her off?

I gaze at the Heavens with a ‘You’re kidding me, right?’ look.  Is this level of chaos all in one day really necessary?  Daughter gives further instruction on the location of said paper.  It’s beside the computer which, by the way, “crashed when I was trying to print off another copy.”  Lovely.

I am torn.  Yes or no?  Go out of my way, taking more time than I have, in order to save my daughter?  Or help her to learn responsibility by suffering the consequences?  She was, after all, a beast last night.  She wasted valuable project preparation time with her tirades.  I’m not feeling especially generous toward her.  But there are other factors to consider too: a younger child in tow who needs to be at a different school momentarily, a son who clearly shouldn’t be left alone, a dance carpool commitment (of all weeks!) and oh yes, a job that is expecting me.  My mind is on a spinny ride at the amusement park and I want to get off.

When Chaos arrives like it has today, Clarity eludes me.  She loves a game of Hide and Seek.   Sometimes it’s easy to find Clarity.  She’s like a small child who hides in the same obvious spot every time she plays the game.  Other times she gets sneaky and hides somewhere in next week or next month – so far away that I have to give up searching for her, knowing that eventually she’ll return to me.  So I keep the door unlocked.

Today, Clarity jumps out at me from behind the phone.  Grandpa calls and would LOVE to drive  45 minutes to spend part of the day with a sick child so mother can take care of the rest of the world. Mercy abounds!

This one monumental gesture of kindness lights a spark in me.  My cold and confused heart warms from the gift it has received and it feels like giving too.  It feels like calling work to say that business is never more important than children.  It feels like fetching and delivering the forgotten school report.  It feels like completing the child chores that were left undone last night.  It feels like attending the Architecture Fair to support not only it’s own child, but the others whose parents didn’t hear their hearts today.

My heart is rewarded with immense gratitude in the form of bear hugs when I arrive back at teen daughter’s school.  It is further elated when it returns home from a brief stop at work to find that, without prompting, the dishwasher has been unloaded by the very same teenager.  The heart knows this path.  It gives generously and without expectation and ends up receiving.  The mind is not as smart.  It would have me judging and measuring out gifts, and calculating retribution.  I really should learn to consult my heart first.  It would save me, and my mind, a lot of trouble.

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