Monday and Tuesday were wholly pleasant and uplifting. Wednesday started out that way. But, as we know, for every up there is a down.
Monday: In the morning was weekly grocery shopping with Corinne and two adorable blondes. I love it when Corinne just calls me up to go with her to chat and laugh and get all the things. The twins' language is growing by leaps and bounds, along with their wit and wisdom. In the evening it was Family Home Evening with our new church family, the YSA branch. It was wonderful to be among them and feel their delightful energy and spirit.
Tuesday: It started with St. Patrick's day breakfast with Felicity and her kids. These friends I have, so close to me in both proximity and love, matter so much in my life. That I can just drop by for green pancakes and fun on a Tuesday morning is bliss. Later in the morning, Cheri (another friend in that same category) and I went to Montpelier Arts Center to see an art exhibition of works by local teens, including one by our mutual friend. That evening I went to see Cinderella with another dear pal, Bethanie, and both of us laughed, cried and determined to have more courage and be more kind.
Wednesday started out gorgeously. Another ordinary shopping trip with Felicity, this time to IKEA, where I found lamps and decided which bed to look for on Craigslist for Sara. It was a good time, especially the part at the end when A and I tucked into authentic Swedish hot dogs together in the IKEA bistro. It totally reminded me of Sweden. Just kidding. I've never been to Sweden.
Then, in roller coaster terms, the long, anticipatory tow up the first hill was over. I had my chance to see the views and WHHEEE!! Down we went. First I found out that I was entirely mistaken about a major teaching gig and wasn't on their roster for the next event. It was totally my fault for not following up on a verbal confirmation. Doh! and all that. Travel plans were in the works, it was going to be a road trip for Sara and I to see my sister...good times all around. Instead I had to absorb the news, contemplate the loss of income, decide whether to change plans, how to tell my sister, etc., then UUPPP! we went when the company called me and very generously offered me another job at the same event. It was a seriously cool thing for them to do, but it means no teaching exposure at this event and less money. I decided to go for it anyway so I can be there and give back to this company that's been so good to me. Okay, mischief managed, ride over but HOLY COW! My adrenaline levels actually did feel a bit like I'd been on a roller coaster. I felt dumb and relieved and grateful, but all at the same time instead of in a nice, orderly sequence.
It wasn't over though. I was still strapped in for another go. All day I'd been on high alert waiting for some news from a loved one, and when that news finally came and was not what we were expecting, it was actually pretty heartbreaking for both of us. I did my best to help while I myself was feeling the loss. Fortunately, there are angels among us and it will be okay, but those first minutes after you get off the ride are pretty disorienting. It takes a minute to get your balance back.
And so today, I feel a little tired and numb trying to parse the contradictions of this week. I'm thinking through what's real, what's not, and how to navigate between the two. One minute I'm grateful for friends and enjoying the rush of wedding plans and my anticipation of Sara's return in 3 weeks; the next minute, my concern for someone I love is making my head actually hurt and driving me to seek shelter and withdraw.
Fortunately, in my life, there are no coincidences, but instead, many divine connections. Here's one: Tuesday before bed, I listened to this TED Radio Hour about language. It really got me thinking, I found and listened to the talk by Phuc Tran about the subjunctive voice of the English language. I know, it seems random, but I love words and the power they have to influence us. The point of the talk is that the words and grammar we use to frame and express our perceptions and experiences matter. The subjunctive voice expresses things that are non-factual, such as potential and possibilities. Sometimes the subjunctive is great, but sometimes it has a dark side. What do you know but on Wednesday, it was what I needed to think about. I mean exactly what I needed. I live so often in the subjunctive land of should have and might have, rather than in the indicative land of is. Wednesday was definitely a day for honest, indicative assessments of the present moment. This Is How It Is Now. Whatcha gonna do? Identifying the facts rather than either dreaming or regretting gave me the information I needed to move forward and handle the changes.
In this moment, today, things are a little hard, mostly for my loved one, but that thing about loving others feeling like your own heart is walking around outside your body? Yeah, that's totally true. Anyway though, things feel a little raw, but navigable. There's a way through. These excerpts from that TED talk really resonate right now:
"Should have" didn't improve my present or my future, "should have" simply blinded me to what was because I was so fixated on what wasn't. Embracing things for what they are, accepting their indicativeness, was my first step towards overcoming my depression and anxiety. More importantly, it was my first step towards honoring and loving who I was, and pulling away from the dark side of the subjunctive.And this:
The subjunctive allows us to be creative, but it also allows us to become mired in regret. And the indicative doesn't really allow us to imagine at all, but it does allow us to talk about ourselves and our experience in real terms, especially if we have the courage to embrace that reality. We take off and put on the lenses of the subjunctive and the indicative every day, and once we recognize the pitfalls of both the indicative and the subjunctive, we can actively choose a more positive and optimistic outlook.And then later:
Go and reclaim and re-appropriate your language and grammar. It's your first and most powerful tool for experiencing and communicating the world around you. We all use the indicative and the subjunctive every day, and we can be mindful of when we are being blinded by the subjunctive and overlooking the indicative around us. And this way of seeing the world, it has real force.I hope today I can steer clear of could have and should have and dwell quietly in what is. Because all is well in all the important ways.