Every kid has met the class bully. Whether that kid is the target of the bullying, or on the perimeter as a bystander, or champions the underdog, or becomes the bully’s willing or frightened accomplice, every kid feels the sting of the meanest kid.
Coming through a trauma with a changed but intact heart, mind, body and soul isn’t easy. It isn’t won and done. It’s a process that often has false starts, unrealistic expectations, of both ourselves and others, crippling fears, flattened hopes and exhausted bodies. And sometimes, all of that happens on a good day.
I remember loving the idea of living in a country where people could speak their minds and hearts and that others would listen, counter and make their own case. There was, and remains, a long way to go in making that process inclusive, fair and productive. But the process itself was fundamentally good in important ways.
If you’re going into this new year with the same old resolutions you’ve made and broken for too many years--get more exercise, lose the first 20 pounds, swear off potato chips, stop dating people who don’t really like the real you, finally quit that job, gym, relationship—it’s time to make another plan. This plan is made up of two simple parts: The first is the present moment and the second is your willingness to show up for it every, single day.
Life, as my mother used to say, is “the whole damn glorious story.” She was right. Pared down to the bare bones, there are three sure things in that damn glorious story of life: we are born, we live, and we die. Whatever the actual time we each have, within those years there is a lifetime of learning and yearning ahead of us. And if we dare to risk our hearts, there is a fourth certainty.
We wait for the better thing that is just beyond our reach, that great good thing that will finally make us happy and whole. We are more than willing to wait for it, even though it take a lifetime. The thing is, waiting to fully live until the right set of circumstances comes along is like waiting for a pie to cook without ever turning on the oven. It takes some heat to get the gold, on a pie or in a life.
Loss is a natural part of life. Intellectually, we know this, but emotionally, not so much. If we’re lucky, we have gentle losses when we’re kids that prepare us for the larger losses the lie ahead. And still, as practiced as we may believe we are with our manageable losses, nothing can adequately prepare us for the big ones, the ones that buckle our knees and take our breath away. Getting back on our feet and learning how to breathe again is a process that is neither linear nor won and done.