…I had written more, read more, spent more time with my kids/friends/family. Run more.
Imagine you’re eighty-six, or ninety-three. (I wish for you a long life.) Let’s pretend for now: you’re lying down at home, under your favorite blanket, knowing a last breath is around the corner. Not a bucket list. Instead, you’re saying aloud:
…I had done ______________________.”
…I had been ______________________.”
…I had visited ____________________.”
…I had NOT spent so much time fighting with idiots too stupid to accomplish the simple stuff, and meanies* too cruel to do the right thing.”
Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver
When I was young and loved John Denver, I planned to spend much of it outside, in the mountains and by the sea. There’s been some of that, but not enough.
While walking the dogs yesterday, I came across a friend I’m always pleased to see. We’ve been neighbors a long time. From his wife, I know things have not always been easy, but he is always happy. When I asked yesterday, “How’s it going?” and he replied, “Great,” it was true. Of him, I have always been jealous.
Each of us knows these people. They are not necessarily wealthy, or thriving in a career, but they are happy. Their life is enough. And that’s it, isn’t it? They have enough? Food, love, money – or are they just brilliant at managing expectations and avoiding the idiots and meanies*?
There’s a wall and I’ve hit it with my head, and now my head hurts, as well as my heart. Also, my right foot. Bun Bun kicked a 90 mph soccer ball at it. (She should be scoring more goals.)
And I’m digging in front of that wall, trying to find, buried somewhere, the plan I had for my one wild and precious life. I’m sure it’s down there but I keep hitting something. Shovel on rock.
I wish I had…hugged more, fought less. (There’s your stupid bumper sticker.)
But there’s so much to fight for. If it wasn’t for the idiots and meanies*, we might occasionally win the battle. Gun control, economic equilibrium, a public school system that works for all children, paid family leave, Coldwater Canyon repaved (you’d have to live here), youth soccer games you could pull off without sacrificing your youngest child, your favorite pet, your left kidney (you’d have to be me).
I’ve tried to put the shovel down, accepting, if not embracing, what IS. But then the idiots and meanies* rise up and, like Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction”, will not be ignored. If I run across the street to avoid them, they follow. Every real and proverbial car and truck trying to mow them down misses. I am not invincible; they are.
…we’d all had more compassion for each other.
Can you imagine? Instead of pouncing on the mistake or the inconvenience, we took a breath and adjusted. Can you imagine? Instead of trying to do it all, we asked for help – and in so doing, felt strength with each other, not weakness apart.
Page 449 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 417 for newbies) suggests the following:
“…acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation… unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that… as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment… Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
But what of world hunger, poverty, Syrian refugees, ISIS, the GOP? Are we talking about accepting our impotence in changing any of these? Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” What do we do with that?
Where’s my shovel? I had a plan. It’s here somewhere.
…I’d been happier.
…I hadn’t complained so much.
…there hadn’t been so many idiots and meanies*.
Shovel on rock. Head against wall. Maybe a new plan.
Run more, write more, read more. Wrap arms around girls before they leave for college. Does it really matter that the house will never be as clean as I’d like? But what about the laundry? It never folds itself. And the idiots and meanies*? They’re lying in wait.
Run more, write more, read more. Breathe.
…I’d helped you more, but I couldn’t. I was too busy fighting, and digging, and hitting that damn rock.
Okay, a new plan. Patience. Acceptance. Deep breaths. Run more, write more, read more. Acceptance. Love more. Give more. Courage. Acceptance. More laughter, more water, more affection. Acceptance. Gratitude. Pave Coldwater Canyon.
Actively avoid idiots and meanies (when possible).
Thanks for reading.
(What do you think your wish list might be?)