Spring is flirting with me. I can feel the tickle of her warming sun and the sweetness of earth coming back to life in the brisk winds and mercurial precipitation patterns that define March in Idaho. Promise is sometimes enough, but I'll admit to needing something a little more substantive to sustain me just now. So, if you have any power over the weather patterns please send sunshiney spring days to Idaho. STAT.
Many of the people I love most and connect to most readily have lived through difficult things. Months and months ago, I remember a discussion (almost a debate) with one of my favorite people at work. We were at a bar, and I stated this preference and he asked, essentially, is that fair? How can you know that those who have not been tested would not rise to the test with strength and grace?
I don't really have an answer for whether it is fair, but I can tell you for certain that if you have lived through a few challenges you don't react with the same sort of shocked horror when a new one arises. It doesn't become routine for anyone to face difficult things, but the cycle of disbelief gets shorter and shorter. And maybe that is the essence of my connection to others who have weathered storms. It saves so much time, when time maybe matters most, not to traverse the terrain titled "this can't be happening to me" and "I can't do this." Bad things happen to us. They do, they always will. Some we might have helped avoid with different choices, some crash in on us like the springtime snowstorms that put a chill on the warming earth.
And so it is happening to you. Right now, not in some hazy future moment. And you can do it, if you choose to. In all likelihood when bad things are happening whatever the "it" is that you feel you can't do will be only the first of the many things you will do. Later, you will look back fondly at the "it" you can't imagine doing today. You will remember how sweetly naive it was to imagine being unable to do that, when you have done not only that, but a hundred more difficult or unpleasant variants of that.
Yes, I'm aware that some people truly cannot do "it" and that someone else will have to then step in and pick up the messy blechy thing and get it done. I empathize with that, but frankly I'm not usually that person. And selfishly, or in a desire to understand myself, I'm not so interested in them. My interest is directed toward those who look at the new challenge both warily and fearlessly, sizing up the battle.
Lately, I've had too much time to think, but not enough sleep to think clearly. Still, I am struck by the idea that all we really have is how we react, and how we live through things. Sometimes our lives and our world are defined by our choices. And in other circumstances we are not allowed the luxury of choice. In those instances, we have only what we will do about the challenge that has been thrust upon us. And in those situations, our behavior defines our experience, not the other way around. So when a loved one is dying, a marriage is ending, a dream has been erased from the realm of possibility, the person you are at your core will show up and your actions will define how you experience your life. They will either underscore or contradict the person you thought you were, that the world may have thought you were.
As in all things, it's important for us to choose. Take that deep and steadying breath, and choose.
Best to all who happen this way.