Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Other Sides of Fences

This year has been one of the best of my life. I’ve had months filled with acceptance and joy, and a sense of inner calm that is very new to me. And all this without tangible change in my outer life, just in the inner way I embrace the ups and downs of my journey. There is something special, I think, about the peace we find when we don’t get the things we want. In the past, I’ve struggled with the feeling that I’m running in place, not getting anywhere, especially as regards my goals (including writing). And it was gratitude that led to every good thing in the past year, so it’s a bit ironic that just before Thanksgiving, my gratitude-in-ator has just plain crapped out.

Why? Oh, that would be the envy burning up my insides and stifling all my happy thoughts.

And where does this evil envy spring from? That would be stinking holidays and Norman Rockwell (yeah, I’m blaming Norman Freaking Rockwell).

This season of holidays and cheer always does me in, because I start looking over fences and envying what is on the other side. The big families. Warm holidays with people who love you. Marital bliss and well-behaved children who help do the dishes on Thanksgiving. Families who live close together and never argue. All that warmth and the smell of turkey (which I don’t even eat). I envy what I don’t have and it chokes me. Not everyone lives close to their families. Not everyone can afford (money/time off) to travel for the holidays (and be honest, it’s a terrible time to be traveling). Not everyone has found their person and gotten married, or had perfect children who will make the yams (and I don’t even know what a yam is). The things we don’t have can spoil the things we do. I get that, but every holiday season I get snared by the envy I feel for people who do live close to their families, who are married and happy, who have holiday laughter and wrapped presents under their Christmas trees. And every year, I just root for it to be over so I can get back to appreciating my life without having that life diminished by Hallmark ads.

The other thing my envy does is blot out the fact that I’m not the only one who has a tough time with this season, that perfect families are fictional, that even people who are surrounded by families can feel alone, and that many people become overwhelmed by the energy necessary to make the perfect holiday seasons for their loved ones.

No one’s got perfect and every life has struggles. I get that. I should be grateful that I’m healthy, that my border collie is still alive after his near-death experience this year, and that I do have great friends and family (even far away) who love me.

And I really need to try harder to ignore the other sides of fences and be happy with my own land.

I will try.

Quote for the Day from Rainer Maria Rilke

“Now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been...”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Everywhere I Look

Greetings Cyberworld, I didn’t forget about you (or my trusty blog), but I have been away a while. A family visit, a long vacation, the subsequent game of catching up with life, work, and much laundry fueled my absence, and now that I’ve been away awhile, it feels a little strange to come back. But then I’m in a strange, post-vacation malaise lately that, like the smell of already eaten broccoli, is a little tough to take.

And I’m ready to blame the Internet (for at least a portion of my mood), which is certainly better than blaming other people, dragons, or (heaven forbid) myself. And I’m not really blaming the Internet as a whole, but rather online news sources. You see, while I have been absent from my blog, I couldn’t read other people's blogs because that felt like cheating on my own, so I broke my own rules and read online news.

I used to be all a-flutter with knowing about everything going on in the world, but months ago decided that news just depressed me, made me feel powerless, and overall was a wet rag in the lovely landscape of my life. So, I gave it up. But like addicts, when I wasn’t checking blogs (which I used as my anti-news addiction recovery patch), I went back to the news, thinking it wouldn’t have the same effect on me now. Boy was I wrong. The world is bleak according to the headlines. People do horrible things. Governments do horrible things. Animal shelters do horrible things. People who work in airports do horrible things. Parents do horrible things. Actually, just about every headline is about something bad (oh, except for that royal wedding announcement, which after what happened to Diana I just can’t get too excited about). So, there you have it, the world is rotten.


That it’s not rotten at all.

I love the world and so many of the people in it. I have friends and acquaintances in many states in the country and not one of them is doing the things on the front page of the newspaper. They all care about people, including friends, family, and even (shocking, I know) strangers. And even though these people are wonderful, marvelous gifts to the world, they spend time worrying that they aren’t giving enough to their families, their children, and their friends. Decency. Compassion. Excellent giggling skills. These are the things that are everywhere I look.

Recently, I took a self-defense class that was offered for free by a local police department (I highly recommend you see if something like that is available in your area) and met another wonderful group of people, from the instructors to the other students. Any time we open our eyes, we see people doing things for each other, without regard for personal gain. How many times have we read drafts of our friends’ works in progress, searching for how we can best facilitate their paths to publication? Staying up late to revise query letters, or just being there to listen to each other when we need it most? We all need pep talks sometimes because this writing path is painfully slow and just plain painful sometimes. It’s hard to believe every day, day after day, that things are going to work out. For that, I value my friends for always listening and providing the rope that keeps me from sinking under.

So, mission statement from today forward: STOP READING THE NEWS!

(Side Note: please e-mail or call if the news reports that I should be fleeing from dragons. :)

Quote for the Day from Anne Frank

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”