the stories we tell

The thought of one day having to portion off a period of my indispensable time every evening to bathe a child used to make me wonder why we decided to have one. Truly. I just couldn’t fathom such great sacrifice. It’s the sort of topic I wouldn’t dwell on for long lest I go a little bonkers. It was too late to reconsider–the child was already born. I had to quickly change the subject, move my mind on to “She’s so adorable” and “I wouldn’t trade her for the world.”

There are stories we tell ourselves in order to make the moment better or at least OK. Whether based on fact or fiction, these explorations of life give our lives more…more time, more comfort, more hope, more clarity… We feel a reprieve.

Like today when I told myself that the guy who yelled, “Retard!” in my direction as I walked across the Target parking lot wasn’t actually talking to me. And I followed that thought up with one about how even if he was (and I’m quite sure he was because our cars had a weird interaction just minutes earlier where we were both turning into two different parking spots and then suddenly his van was turning my way) I wasn’t going to be bothered. I couldn’t afford the energy. I had a shelf to find and quickly. My mission needed commitment and I was all in.

And then there are times when no story is enough, even the spiritual ones, even ones that mention God. There are times when even God wants us to stop trying to adjust the moment because the moment needs to be fully experienced. As ugly, unfortunate, untimely, unrequested and absolutely miserable as it may be, sometimes we must sit with it without trying to understand it. No massaging. No reframing. Shut up. No anticipating the next thing. No debriefing. Let it be.

How will I teach this to my child, the one who has helped me want to lovingly fit her into my life? How will I help her understand when to stand, when to sit, when to raise her hand, when to just talk, when to wrestle, when to let go…?

There’s so much to reach for, grab, and hold on to. Tightly. From ideas to material goods, we’re constantly encouraged to fashion new narratives for ourselves. Sometimes the change is worth it. Sometimes it’s simply spin.

So I’ve been purging, creating more of that good old white space found in clean layouts and  productive work spaces. My closet could use a Round 3 and the whole house could use an outright intervention. But the stuff we see is only a percentage point. It’s a reflection of the internal. Why do I have so many clothes I don’t care to wear? Because I hold onto the stories that brought the clothes to me…external, internal. Sure, five grocery bags stuffed with clothes and dropped off at KARM makes me feel a little lot of relief but I have yet to fashion a story that is both new and whole until I start saying, “No”–to others and to myself.

 

This post is part of my desire to write 500 words each day for a month. I began on June 20, 2016. The primary goal is writing daily. The secondary goal is writing something of great depth. If I only achieve the primary, I’m perfectly fine. 

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