My thoughts seem to meet me here.
I love opening books of beloved writers and seeing what words the page delivers. Today I opened A Year With Rilke (translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)--it is an exquisite book, rich in Rilke tidbits and wisdom. These words greeted me:
Let us be complete in ourselves. Let us drink ourselves empty, give ourselves fully, extend ourselves outward--until, at last, the waving treetops are our own gestures and our laughter is resurrected in the children who play beneath them... (Early Journals)
Here is the time for telling. Here is its home.
Speak and make known: More and more
the things we could experience
are lost to us, banished by our failure
to imagine them.
Old definitions, which once
set limits to our living,
break apart like dried crusts.
(From the Ninth Duino Elegy)
A time for telling indeed. I will offer this: two very divergent set of thoughts interspersed as I lived the sick days. I realized, quite disappointingly, that a nagging sense of embarrassment resided just below the surface of my exterior. A self-critical judge issued verdicts of:
I should be doing a better job of keeping us all healthy.
If I kept my house cleaner then we'd stop getting sick.
If I could get my kids to eat leafy, raw vegetables, they wouldn't get sick. And they'd heal faster!
(Apparently, during these moments of self-flagellation, I choose to ignore the informed opinions of doctors and schools that this has been one really sick winter. Really sick. And that as much as I'd like to think I can control the germs and keep them at bay with hand sanitizer, Clorox and Lysol, I cannot. Sometimes the germs win.)
I shouldn't feel sick for so long. I should bounce back quickly and return to the gym. Start writing my book! I should be a superhero!!! (Alas, I do not yet feel fantastic. I feel a hell of a lot better than I did last week at this time, but my brain still synapses slowly. Small jaunts to the grocery store leave me needing a nap and laughing makes me cough.)
Should. Should. Should.
The divergence came from this epiphany, seemingly from another reality: As I trudged through the various infections and illnesses that comprised the last month of our life, I realized that I was exactly where I needed to be, sitting in the mess. The pain of bruised ribs. The tears of middle-of-the-night ear infections and rubbing of fevered brows. The mess of cancelled outings and play dates, missing a dear friend's wedding. The stress of asking for help continues to rankle me; I'm still working on doing this while jettisoning the guilt and antiquated belief that asking for help equals weakness. (Geesh.) Sitting with the piles of laundry and antibiotics, the realization dawned that I was indeed living. Right then. The strep throats, coughs, the multiple dashes to the doctor's office, bronchitises, fevers and runny noses forced my hand, expertly navigating me to right now. A messy concoction in flawed abundance.
And so, I sit with the conflicting tides of my epiphanies and try to calmly, lovingly and sweetly tell the self-bitchy judge, and her old definitions, to take a hike.
I try, with varying levels of success, to understand my many realities and be complete within myself. Sometimes, I belabor the very dichotomies that define and assure my place in this life. Others, I gingerly hold these nuanced, shadowy gulfs with amazement, desperately hoping to comprehend.
I try to let the old, stale beliefs and shoulds break away and fall out of my reality. Their very departure creating space for the new. Creating space for consideration. For living. For dreams and possibilities. A place where my imagination runs freely--encounters fear and proceeds anyway, marching right up to a future of possibilities.
This is life. Acceptance transcends the bubbling dichotomies--the confounding and conflicting emotions--and the variegated grace sits, patiently awaiting me.
I'm glad to be back here in my space. Where my words meet me. And I, them, as we go forth together.