I recently had a realization about life. I don’t want to seem to be a downer, though, so I will tread lightly here. My epiphany: My hardships aren’t strange anomalies that will suddenly change into rainbows. My hardships are part of life. Illness, death, change, depression, anxiety, loss — these are all part of life. And my sense of Truth right now tells me that these won’t go away, nor should they necessarily. See, you all think I’m dragging myself down, don’t you?
Actually, I am finding this realization freeing. I came to this feeling when a friend remarked that since my dad’s death in 2008, so much change and loss and hardship has occurred. A few weeks ago, my friend was visiting with me and sweet Mountie, who was not doing so well. She was feeling my pain about my sick kitty and exuding compassion when she said, “You need a break!” While a break would be nice, I realize that all of the pain and losses I have experienced in the last four years — okay, eleven years…wait, my whole life — are part of a continuum and the best thing I can do is meet all of it with grace.
Grace is my new power word this year. How do I meet loss gracefully? Loss will not go away. Loss is part of what we all experience. So how do I (how do we) deal with our hardships without breaking apart? Or maybe, for some, the question is how do we put ourselves back together after being broken apart?
We take our time. We approach ourselves gently. We pick up the pieces as if they are delicate artifacts in need a soft dusting. We forgive others. We forgive ourselves. We cry. We scream. We laugh. We step outside of ourselves and connect with others on this planet. We trust another day will come. We walk. We drink tea. We dance. We breathe. We take one small risk, even if that is to get out of bed. We rest. We realize others suffer more than us. We realize others have suffered less. We realize that ranking suffering isn’t fair, kind, or helpful. We realize that our losses are the most important because they are ours. We forgive others for not understanding or saying the “wrong thing.” We write in our journals. We read books with self-help quotes and poetry that makes us cry. We realize that we are grateful to feel deeply and we love ourselves, snotty nose and all, because life isn’t out to get us. Life just is. So we will just be.
I leave you with a poem by Walt Whitman — a poem which gives my achy heart some comfort. I hope it does for you as well.
Youth, large, lusty, loving-youth full of grace, force, fascination,
Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace,
Day full-blown and splendid-day of the immense sun, action,
The Night follows close with millions of suns, and sleep and