Better self. Better world.
September Contemplation: Well, Hello Fall
Monthly Post #2: Falling Up when Falling Down
I used to think, When I turn 30, I’ll get it together—it being everything in my life.
Then 30 came and went.
Then I thought, When I turn 40, I’ll get it together.
Then that decade passed.
Then at age 50, a whole half century of living later, I thought, Holy crap, my life is a holy mess. Maybe I’ll never get it together.
And that my fellow humans is the best wisdom I could have thought. I could stop trying to have everything in my holy crap life put together.
What a relief.
You Don’t Have to Be. Sometime during the past year, I read this, “You have reason to be, but you don’t have to be.” I wrote those words on my white board by my desk to read over and over, day after day—a reminder that even when I have reason to “not have it together,” I don’t need to stay in that place. Every day is a new beginning.
Like you I suspect, I sometimes have good reason to be angry, frustrated, or upset—somebody misunderstands me, accuses me, attacks me; somebody drives too fast, too slow, drives as if they are the only one on the road. In other words, somebody acts like a broken, imperfect human. The nerve.
Value in Self-awareness. I have reason to be, but I don’t have to be, at least not forever. At my age, I finally see the value of self-awareness. What exactly is it that gets me riled? And why? Regardless of who is doing what to me, understanding how I react, sheds light on how I can be my best self through whatever happens in my day.
I am mostly a patient person, so when I get agitated, it’s worth time, energy, and effort to figure out the what and the why behind it. This can be hard, but now I know that when my stomach gets knotted, my neck and right shoulder tighten, my breathing becomes shallow, and I puke out an avalanche of stumbling dislocated words, I know something’s up.
Hummm, you think so?
I used to not pay attention to my insides. It was as if all that knotting and tightening and shallow breathing and puking was a disruption. And who needs that? Push it aside. Overlook. Don’t get angry, frustrated, or upset. It is not Christ like, lady like, proper like. It’s just not right.
It is wrong to feel emotions that aren’t happy or good. And it’s even worse if those emotions escape and collide. So, suck it up.
Listen to Self. And that’s exactly what I had learned to do—to not listen to what the heck was going on inside. These days I recognize that feelings and emotions serve a purpose, the uncomfortable ones usually being red flags to stuff worth recognizing with at least a casual nod, or maybe a discussion, or sometimes with more dissection. Knowing what to do with emotions and feelings though, can be trickier than actually recognizing them. I wish there was a manual that said, “When this happens, do that. And when that happens, do this.” Just plug in a formula and pull the handle, like a carnival game.
Grace and Accountability. But alas, life is not that easy. The older I get, the more I am convinced that getting my holey life right, is more about the holiness in my wrongs, and in the process sorting through who I am and am not. I am not perfect. Yet, I am good enough. This does not justify or excuse unintentional (and especially intentional) wrongs against others. There’s that peaceful place where both grace and accountability coexist.
I’m not sure from where this story originated. I sat at my computer this week and started typing and this is what came out. I suppose with pumpkin-and-spice fall around the corner and exploring the theme, “falling up when we fall down,” the idea of “we have reason to be, but we don’t have to be,” had incubated long enough on my white board. It was time to harvest.
Holy Crap My Life is a Holy Mess. Self-awareness helps me better understand the whys behind “I have reason to be,” but more importantly how to move into “but I don’t have to be” angry, frustrated, or upset forever. I can live my holy crap life, not always having everything put together, but finding satisfaction in focusing my efforts toward falling up when I fall down.
What a relief.