Well, it's morning as I write this, anyway. I awoke with a start at 4am today, certain that someone had banged loudly on the wall of my bedroom, and my heart was in my throat and I was prepared to call 911 before I was even fully awake. Before I reached for the phone, though, I heard another sound: the dog's rhythmic deep sleep breathing, and I realized that if there had been a real problem, he'd be on his feet, all 80 pounds of him tense and alert, not softly snoring from his dog bed. The noise was only a part of my dream (already forgotten), but the little adrenaline surge was real enough, and I've been awake since then, unable to fall back asleep.
I love the wee hours of the morning, though, so all is well. Last night, as always, I set the coffee pot, so all that I had to do was fill my cup to start enjoying it. Today, being Sunday, I returned to bed with it, a luxurious day stretching out before me to do as I please. Today I will have a longer than usual Sunday, a longer than usual stretch of time, all because of that imaginary banging. Perhaps that banging was a gift, and not a nightmare.
In the stillness, while it is still dark outside, I can think.
So often, my brain is taken up with useless things that prevent me from thinking. I worry about money, about work, about whether I ran the dishwasher, about the gutters that are at least a year overdue for cleaning. I worry that I will never find a romantic partner, that I have put on weight (I have), that I don't know where to send Katherine for high school because I don't like the local school and I can't afford private school. Worry and fear are not the same thing. I spend a great deal of time doing things (like cooking, working, cleaning, and fun things like roller skating or hiking, too) but that's not thinking, either.
For me, thinking involves vast quantities of silence, of stillness. Perhaps a paper and pen, perhaps a keyboard and a screen. It involves uninterrupted time.
Ah, blissful time. And today I get a little extra, before Katherine awakes, in order to ponder my life.
I've been pondering for about four hours now.
I've been thinking about the difference between perfect and flawed. Perhaps perfection is an imaginary state, and it is the seeking of perfection that is most flawed of all. I wonder if my imperfect, flawed life is actually the height of bliss, and that in declaring it imperfect I am throwing away the beautiful gift that it is. Do I see only the tiny bank balance, the full gutters, the ten (or more?!) pounds of winter weight gain? Do I see only several feet of scars criss-crossing my torso, mutilated breasts? Do I see only the lack of a partner, the lack of travel? I think about how Katherine needs the next phase of orthodonture, and I haven't been to the dentist in far too long because I don't want the bill, and I shudder.
I see those things. Boy, do I see them. They churn in my stomach and they press behind my eyes and the combination makes me nauseous and sometimes they make me want to crawl into a dark quiet place and curl up in a ball. I am not immune to fear, sadness, anxiety.
And yet I am committed to seeing the beauty and richness of my life. Dare I say it: I dare to see its perfections.
I am reminded of Mary Oliver's poem The Ponds.
It is true that I am "blighted, slumped". And yet, that's only in the perspective. I am also "rife and wild".
I live in a comfortable home that is often filled with friends and family. My daughter is made of light and love, and brings me the kind of pride that makes my eyes prickle with feeling. My body takes me through the woods, or around a roller skating rink (yesterday's adventure: I hadn't roller skated in YEARS and I was terrible but it was more fun than I imagined). My job is so imperfect, but it's important work that I believe in.
I am proud of my strength, my bravery, but again and again I am tested. Today I will face my resume head on, preparing it for distribution to future employers, preparing to change my life once again. This small sentence fills me with fear, doubt, uncertainty. Looking at myself from outside of myself, I want to say, "Oh, come on. What's the big deal? You have a job, you have people knocking on your door to talk about work...certainly you have what it takes, and if they reject you, so what?" Well, rejection is a rotten beast, and I fear it. I fear that my bravery is what is false, and the fear is what is real.
I fear that I am not actually good enough to get what I want. I fear that I will be put off, dismissed, that they will see through me and know that I shouldn't get what I want. I fear that I do not know how to run my life, that my dreams are foolish. I fear my imperfections.
I fear, too, that I have been alone too long, and that I am no longer partner material because I have grown too set in my ways about how I wish to live, and too fearful about letting someone in.
I fear that I am not beautiful enough, smart enough, or interesting enough.
I fear that I am not creative enough to pursue my deepest dreams.
I fear that I am inconsequential, and that I waste my life.
That is a lot of fear, and when I write it down like that I fear that it is far bigger than I am, and that it will overwhelm me, and I wonder if I should go back to bed. Perhaps I WILL go back to bed, or to Netflix, or to busy work that is meaningless but makes me look productive.
Or maybe I will hit "publish" on this, and open up my resume document, and start adding information about my last job, and take a risk that I can do it, and that if I fail, I will survive my failure.
I will hit publish on this, and open up my resume document, and start adding information about my last job, and take a risk that I can do it, and have faith that I can make this thing happen, and that my future life awaits, and that the right job will come to me. I will choose to believe that I am exactly what my dream job needs, that I am ready for the next step on the path, that my life has meaning, and that the joy is mine for the taking.
We all struggle. I struggle. I suspect that you struggle, too. But what if we let go of the fear, because the fear was all that was preventing us from being magnificent, and from attaining our dreams? What if all we have to do to succeed is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, with the faith that we'll get there eventually?
Today I'm going to take a step or two or three. I hope that you do, too. Let me know how it goes!