Friday, December 14, 2012

Mourning Has Broken

In roughly the time it takes for me to drink a cup of coffee, 28 people were killed this morning. The majority of those people were children between 5 and 10 years old. I want to be outraged. I want to be sad. I want anything but to feel this deep, sickly feeling in my gut.

I think of all the people whose lives this changes - those who witnessed it, the family and friends of the victims, people across the nation and in other countries who can't help the raw emotion that flows at hearing such utterly painful news.

This isn't something that one can chalk up to the whims of Mother Nature. It isn't something that can be explained away in any kind of fashion. It is inexplicable, unimaginable.

My first thought when I heard of it was of parents who have already done their Christmas shopping. I know that is one of the things that will drive them mad with grief, when they go to the closet to get a coat and see those packages that will never be opened. Although I have had to grieve the loss of many loved ones, I cannot fathom that kind of grief.

Nor can I imagine trying to come to terms with something so vile, so heinously senseless. How does one ever get past it? How does one ever find a point where they can say, "That was then and this is my life now." I don't know.

This is without consolation. There are no words of wisdom. There is no solace to be given. There's no finding justice in any of it.

A friend of mine (here in Washington), after following the news all morning, said that she just wanted to pick her daughter up from school and hug her and hug her and never let go. I understand that. Completely. I want to hug every person I love and never let go.

But the cruelty of the Universe dictates that we continue living. So we do.

We honor this tragedy by reaffirming our vows to be better people, to love deeper, stronger, and sweeter. Maybe we don't snark at our mates for forgetting to take out the trash and instead just hold them for a few extra minutes, because the trash will always be there and need to be taken out, but they won't always be there to hold. Maybe instead of snapping at our children for spilling their drink because they didn't pay attention, instead we'll patiently wipe up the mess, kiss them on the cheek, and let them know it's just a spilled drink and it doesn't change the rotation of the planet on its axis. Maybe take a few minutes from the hectic blur of the day to phone a couple of friends - not because we need to talk, but just because we need to tell them we love them.

It's not that we're searching the rubble for a lesson to be learned, but that we're lighting a candle to find the way out of our own darkness. And it's a big darkness, and it's a tiny candle.

So, take a deep breath before you speak and when you do, make your voice gentle. Fill it with love. Hold them close, all of them, all your loved ones. Because the time for letting go, no matter how near or far, always, always comes too soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Universal Gumdrops

One of the things I've always detested most in various interviews is that horrid question, "So... where to you see yourself in five years?"

Seriously. I'm not sure there is a worse question on the face of this earth.

When I graduated high school, there was no way I could have told anyone that I saw myself as a florist five years down the road. I'd never done a thing with flowers. It wasn't even an ambition of mine. It was a job that got dropped in my lap a year later and I thought it would be fun to learn.

And had someone asked me halfway through my floral career, I wouldn't have said, "Gee. I think I see myself as a nanny in Maryland. I'll be taking care of two boys and their dying mother. And, oh by the way, I'll be in a stale marriage."

People make up all kinds of ridiculous answers to that question, because it is dictated that it must be answered. But have you ever heard anyone tell the truth? Has anyone ever said, "Haven't the foggiest clue." Has anyone ever said, "Golly gee, but I think in five years I'll have worked my way through a few different substance addictions and I'll be sleeping off the latest binge in an alley somewhere."

Nobody knows the answer to that question. It is, in fact, unanswerable.

Just over five years ago I started this blog. It was my way to wade through the soul gunk that was left over from losing my beloved mate, John earlier that spring. It was my way to discover just who I was and who I wanted to be and who I should be. It was my way of reconciling with the Universe, of putting my self back on the map, so to speak. I had no idea where it was going, much less where I wanted it to go. I just needed a place to land. I needed a warm fire in the vast wilderness. I was desperate for a place to sit and think and be. Truthfully, I had no idea I'd find it here, amid friendly strangers, on the internet. Go figure.

Had someone asked back then, back when I was a sad woman scraping together a living as an accountant, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Well, first they would have gotten the look for asking that question. I honestly don't know how I would have answered. I know what I wouldn't have said. I would not have said what has actually come to pass.

I would not have said, "I see myself working as an artist. I will have moved twice, once to live on the side of a mountain where I will find the peace that I need. And I will move again to a small town with a view of that mountain when I meet my new love. He will be tall and funny and have arms that hold me like I was born to be right there inside them. I will have a huge circle of supportive friends that I hold so very dear and some of those very people I won't have even met face to face. But I will love them fiercely nonetheless."

I would never have said all that, or anything like it.

See, here's the thing. For a while now most of us have been aware of the "It Gets Better" campaign. It's a great idea, however, "better" is what you allow it to be. Because, let me tell ya, along with the "better" - those shiny, glorious moments that are doled out like gumdrops by a sometimes stingy Universe - it also can get sad, and funny, and hurtful, and crazy, and pretty, and harsh, and a whole lot weird. What's important to know it that all of it is okay. Knowing that, knowing all of our experiences are necessary, that's what gets better.

What really gets better is that you end up knowing yourself, your triggers and reactions, your loves, your dislikes. You find out, after being tested time and again, just how incredibly strong you are. More than anything, you will find out that it is just fine that you're you, exactly as you are, exactly where you are. You are you. And that... that is perfect. Once you discover this, the Universe will open up to you. Impossibilities become realities. Unknowns reveal themselves. The rest of it, all the chattering monkeys (as the Buddhists would term it), quiets and settles back or even disappears altogether.

Here's the really great thing. Once we allow ourselves to start being our authentic selves, all the right people show up at just the right time. People wander into our lives, almost as if by magic, holding nothing but love and support. People that we recognize by the very nature of their being. Certain strangers will make you want to say, "Oh! It's you... finally. Where have you been?" I kid you not, that is exactly the line that went through my mind the first time I met Steve.

It doesn't just get better. It gets weirdly wonderful.

The key? Here it is: We can't change what is past. We can't constrain the future. We can only be present.

If we are, if we are truly present, then every moment is a gumdrop.