Nine Twenty Four Fourteen

 

Am I standing too still,

or moving too fast

to capture the moments that speed past me?

Today is our 26th wedding anniversary, and I am deeply thankful for my wife and the relationship we have forged between us. Forged is such a perfect word, because forging is an outcome of heat and pressure – very relevant to our experience. As I steep in the satisfaction of the day, I am painfully aware of how much work our marriage has been for both of us. It causes me to wonder, is it this much work for everyone’s marriage? Or have I just complicated things because I have never been satisfied with status quo? Honey, you should have married a librarian…

Life stands between will, and willing

Frozen by the questions

of what matters,

and what makes a difference

Our marriage is like a film, spliced from a million fragmented moments of hardware store errands, poopy diapers, exhausted intimacy, choir concerts, teacher conferences, football games, track meets, camping among the Redwoods, laughing, crying, boredom, and regret for hurtful things that cannot be unsaid. Like Michelangelo and marble, I have mastered the art of apology.

Suddenly the simple seems complex,

and the complex incomprehensible.

The more I see my life from the perspective of the observer, the more I recognize it is of my doing, and it scares me. What and who I am is manifested of all that I believe myself to be, or not. And that frightens me more than it encourages. I fear that as I grow older, my non-beliefs outweigh my beliefs and suddenly Don Quixote’s quest doesn’t seem like such folly.

Rain returned today, soon turning golden grass green

And to peel paint on neglected railings on this monstrosity 

of a thirty something’s ego.

Turkey Loaf

Chapter 7 of The Underage Traveler – It is fascinating what is remembered and what is forgotten. In fact checking with my sister, I realize that I had conveniently forgotten critical details in how things went down in the family. Or perhaps, we are both correct and the only thing that matters is our version of truth. Because in the end, that is what we face. Our truth. No one else’s.

The Underage Traveler – Chapter 7_Turkey Loaf

It Just Is

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.

Love Every Wrinkle

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.