Life feels like a rocking boat- not violently like a storm, but sort of like a canoe on a lake, with the occasional speed boat roaring past and making an uncomfortable wake. One of the things people do, and I understand why they do it, is to look at me when they complain about something and apologize, sort of implying they shouldn’t complain around someone who’s problems are so much worse than theirs. How silly is that! Sure, Himself dying was pretty awful, but a person’s problems are a person’s problems. If you’re having issues with a child giving you heartache, it can be pretty painful, and just because I went through what I did, doesn’t mean your issues are any less painful to you. I get that. I’m not thinking in my head “what’s she whining about? MY problems are WAY WORSE!” because to you, they’re really rough.
Though to be honest, if someone is complaining about their husband forgetting to pick up milk on the way home even after reminded in a text message, I do kind of think it…like “I wish I had someone to forget the milk…” but only briefly because I remember the frustration Mom felt when she sent Dad out for milk and bread and he came back with a pecan pie and a bottle of cold duck. (true story)..but now it makes a good story and all the women can nod and tell of something their husbands did like that.
Earlier today a friend pondered if our troubles in life get more difficult as we go along. I think so, and here’s how: it’s all about perspective. 23 years ago something enormous happened to me- I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now, that threw my whole life into a tailspin but eventually I got my feet back underneath me and carried on, feeling stronger for the ordeal. Then I dealt with teenagers, which was also pretty difficult, even more so because there were 3 of them, and not just me. Also something of a tailspin but instead of lasting 6 months it lasted several years. But, we all survived and seem to be the better (and stronger) for it. Himself’s work, once we moved here, was kind of a nightmare for both of us…so hard, but…we learned how to deal and were (and are) stronger for it. Now, when Himself died, I knew, because those other circumstances were all survived and strengthened me, that I’d be ok. Yes, it sucks and is the kind of thing I’d not wish on anyone, but…like all the other stuff…I’m stronger for it.
That’s right. I’m badass.
I think the reason it seems stuff gets harder as we go along is because the stuff that’s not harder is, by comparison, not really a Problem. Think of it like this. You go to the gym to work out, right? You don’t start with the 100 pound weights and work your way down, because that would be silly and you’d end up throwing the weights everywhere. You start with the small weights and they seem heavy, then they feel doable so you move up to the heavier ones, and so it continues. Then, by the time you’re doing the 100 pound weights, those 10 pounders that seemed so heavy when you started don’t feel like a thing at all. Same with life. The stuff that used to seem so all-fired important, isn’t so much anymore. Think about when you were 16 and how incredibly critical to everything it was, that you have the right (insert what was important like haircut, clothes, or something) and now, at (insert your adult age, I’m 50…I mean…51) the haircut is nice but it isn’t the end of your entire social life if it isn’t perfect. Because experience tells you what’s important now.
am I making any sense?
Anyway, the sorts of things that internal perspective tells me *should* be very important, aren’t really. I mean, yes, kind of, but in the grand scheme of things, the pressure isn’t there. For instance, I made a 4.0 the last 2 semesters (the crowd cheers!). Now, I worked, but not super hard. Kind of hard, but not really hard. My attitude is “cool, I made good grades.” but it’s not any more important (in my mind) than have a really productive Sweet 100 tomato plant. So far, I’ve gotten more out of the tomato than I have out of the education. The upcoming semester may be more difficult, and making a 4.0 would be a bigger accomplishment, but even so, I won’t starve if I don’t, my children won’t be homeless if I don’t. And this is because the thing that happened 17 months ago is more enormous than anything that has ever happened, and by comparison, everything that has ever happened pales in comparison. So a 4.0 and many pints of tiny tomatoes and building a house, while all wonderful, aren’t that awe-inspiring. They’re just kind of cool.