I have this habit of wanting clear explanations for things when they don’t work out. The problem with that mindset is that often times there are no explanations.
It just is.
And that is the hardest reality for me to accept because it reminds me that I have little control over what happens to me. Or to those I love and care about. Or to anyone for that matter.
It just is.
Tolkien knew this well:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Oh, that I could have this perspective in the moment. No, rather, I allow myself to be drawn into the drama of not seeing things for as they are, but wishing they were otherwise, tantrums and all.
And it gets worse.
When the reality of the situation is exacerbated by my reaction to it. Like icing on the cake. Perhaps this is God’s way of showing me the old self I must learn to leave behind before I am finished here. The little me.
Until then, I am tethered to him like conjoined twins. Where he goes, I go. Where I go, he goes.
What a lovely pair we make.
My next two chapters, The Underage Traveler – Chapter 4 & 5 are available for viewing. These chapters chronicle our move to Africa in the Peace Corps and then our return home to Washington. Enjoy and please feel free to let me know what you think of the stories. rt.
In a weak moment last night, I found myself watching reality TV. It was an episode of Botched, a show where plastic surgeons perform restorative surgery on a variety of failed boob jobs, nose jobs, tummy tucks, butt implants…you name it. My wife walked by as I was watching and asked, “what’s wrong?” Apparently the pained look on my face communicated more than I was aware of.
“This show,” I said, getting up from the couch to go to bed. It creeped me out and I couldn’t take any more. It did get me wondering though, about my own obsessions with image as I stared at the reflection looking back at me while I brushed my teeth. We have a running joke in the Thomas family that we never met a mirror we didn’t like. Resisting the double take in the floor to ceiling mirrors at 24hour fitness is about as impossible as driving by Voodoo doughnuts without stopping by to sample a bacon maple bar. Inasmuch, I’ve had my own temptations with “modification” as I’ve watched my hairline creep further back on my head. Thankfully, the thoughts have come and gone without action.
The irony in all of this is my parent’s laments are now mine. Aging, as they say for many, is not kind. I also believe aging is harder on women than men, made worse by the fact that women are held to a higher image standard in our culture (In a weak moment, I shared my opinion with an all female executive team I coach. In fairness, it was at the end of a long day of facilitation and after a couple glasses of wine so my filter was down. Let’s just say I didn’t hear the end of it the rest of the night…).
Yet as I contemplate the crows feet at the corners of my eyes, the growing age spot on the side of my forehead, and my worsening eyesight, it occurs to me that I’ve worked hard to earn these hallmarks of age. Each is an emblem that bears a story of its own; each scar to be cherished and each wrinkle to be loved. They are as much a part of me as my own children and I could no more dismiss them with the surgeon’s scalpel as I could excommunicate the ones I love from my life.
Accepting who I am, in totality and without judgment is what I esteem for. Wrinkles and all.
True confession…as much as I would like to believe otherwise, and even convince others of to the contrary, things get to me. In spite of my best efforts to be present, to be grounded, to have perspective, to take it in stride. And it has been kicking my ass of late.
What I have determined as I attempt to climb out of this hole I’m in is that growth is upon you when you are confronted with change, and everything that used to work for you no longer does. When you have absolutely no idea how to proceed, how to figure things out, then that is a good indication that you are growing. I have said repeatedly in my leadership development work, that going from a state of unconscious incompetence (not knowing what you don’t know), to conscious incompetence (now knowing what you don’t know) is one of the most terrifying transitions to go through. And yet so necessary in the development as a leader.
Guess what? It applies to personal change as well. And that is squarely where I am right now. It probably doesn’t help matters that I judge the fact that I should be dealing with it better. But I have been lulled into a state of “control” for some time now, believing that everything I had experienced to this point was enough to get me through my current state of growth and change. Not even.
Save for one practice, that is. And it is a bitch.
God, it’s hard to even write it. But the honest truth is when I allow myself to intone those words that come so hard for me….I DON’T KNOW…how, or when, or why, or even what. I don’t know, and I’m giving up trying to believe that I should know, then it doesn’t feel so bad anymore. There is still the not knowing. And the things that bedevil me about how to fix, or overcome, or in some other way DO something with, are still there. But I can somehow laugh at them now.
And know, in some meaningful way that I cannot fully describe now, that this growth is necessary.