As a kid did you ever just stand in a circle and spin until you were so dizzy that it was a relief when you finally fell?
People are going through some challenging things and I want to fall just through my listening. Aging parents, depression, chronic pain, troubled marriages, distraught children. The list goes on and yet it’s nothing new.
I meet people through my job in retail that I like to call the So People. They are So persnickety, So obsessive, So demanding, So irritated, SO SO SO! Fortunately, there are those that balance this because they are So kind, So happy, So excited by the fact that The Book Shelf simply exists.
But it reminds me of how fragile we all are. A brief encounter at the book store the other day ended when a customer just blurted out, “Oh God! It’s just so hard!”
What I said was, “You are doing the best you can.”
What I was thinking was, “Yes it is.”
Come on. We all know what we need to do, especially at this time of year in cloudy Minnesota. Exercise. Eat right. Practice a mindful way of being. Seek a heat/light lamp. I can say with confidence, I know. Many of us know, but no amount of self care detracts from the point that it can still be hard.
And so we are left to figure it out. And I just think as much as we feel alone, we are not. We are not alone in our frustration, our worry, our pain, our anger, our inability to brush it off, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, to muddle through.
I appreciated that admission of “It’s so hard!” as much as I appreciated a friend who outright admitted to her fragility. She was suggesting I be extra-careful in my words with her because she was ready to crack open. I loved this because so many of us walk around with armor trying to bear it all as if an award might be waiting if you are simply tough. No awards are ever given no matter how we wear our pain. It’s true that we can’t tiptoe around life, but sometimes there is nothing wrong with using just a little extra care. Or admitting that we ourselves might need it.
People who have kids know how they keep things real in an almost bizarre fashion. I still have to remind at least one of them to wipe and flush and wash their hands and stop picking their nose and check that the sandwich contains protein since the cheese on their favorite popcorn does not count. Or, maybe that’s just me.
It can be weirdly funny to issue a command to flush while toiling over how to you are going to get to that funeral or make an appointment for your depressed child or figure how you are going to have a difficult conversation with a spouse. The wonky fun house mirror of life makes it hard to see a clear picture.
I think what I am learning is that the picture is never really clear.
Fold the laundry after choosing the headstone. Thaw the lasagna after the cancer’s been diagnosed because the kids still need to eat. Set the garbage out before the hospice care comes. None of this is me specifically, but it is me and everyone because it’s all such a jumble. Move on, trudge through, hang tight, let go.
I am trying to remind myself of all of this as we sit on the cusp of March, that unpredictably wild gateway to sunnier days.
We are all So People.
So fragile and So resilient and So strong.
And So Not Alone.