Saturday, June 7, 2014

Swiper, no swiping

Warning: this will be random. Probably just like every other thing I will write on this blog. But if I fiddle with it until I'm happy with it or convinced it makes sense, it will never happen. When I used to envision being a writer...I pictured a quiet, sun-filled room, time to think, a breeze, lots of space and light. Today I am sitting at my kitchen table Teddy is screaming and playing video games upstairs, we have 3 extra kids in the house, I can hear Elsie DUMPING out every toy bucket in the playroom (and also seems to be filling things up with water in the bathroom)...my arm is resting on a sticky syrup spot from breakfast--and I am wearing a crown that is pinching my enormous, odd shaped head...I don't blame it for pinching me. It's just hanging on for dear life. Maddie is sitting the corner of the kitchen yelling "swiper, no swiping" at nobody in particular. These two visions of writing conditions couldn't be more different obviously, but the former seems so self-indulgent by comparison. What would you even write about under such easy conditions...

It's not that I do better with pressure--it's that I only do anything at all when pressure is applied, and I do even better with limited resources. I don't really like what this says about me so I'd rather not think about it too hard.

There are millions of trite phrases that center around the cliche that "trials reveal who you are." I thought this had largely to do with courage and a will to fight--but now I think it has more to do with consistency of character. For example, several years ago I noticed how hollow my apologies to Ben sound when they are always followed with a"it's just that.." as if external circumstances can excuse any behavior. Anybody can be happy and patient and kind when things are going your way. When kids cooperate, the house is clean, you feel well, you're not hungry/tired/stressed etc. It is how you behave precisely when the s#$% hits the fan that proves who you actually are. Don't we ALWAYS have a choice? Admit it. Of course we need to be forgiving of ourselves, but we shouldn't give our emotional cycles free reign over our personalities either. Watching Christy work through her diagnosis and treatments was awe-inspiring. I am someone who struggles to keep it together when I am hungry--and she was able to manage incredible physical and emotional pain without taking it out on other people. In fact, she became more serving and more loving. Her patience and grace was so consistent and continuous--I didn't doubt it was genuine. But in the last week of her life she was so heavily medicated it would have literally been impossible to keep up an act--if that's what it had been. But instead we got an interesting, sometimes random and sometimes funny, peek into her subconscious as she talked and acted things out in a semi-lucid state. She was not aware of our presence as we watched her pray out loud, bare her testimony, pantomime making sandwiches for her family and making quilts for the Young Women. Her faith, her love for her family and helping or taking care of others was what manifested at a time when all her filters, all the mental control of her behaviors were gone.

I want to be a person I am proud of, I want to have less guilty apologies to make and more triumphs over obstacles. I want to be self-aware enough that I can communicate my emotions clearly, navigate situations better so that I can give myself opportunities to do better and be better instead of pushing myself so hard all I do is give myself more rope to hang myself. If in go-go-going all the time, I push myself until I snap and then on top of fatigue I have to add feeling like a failure--how can I ever stay motivated to be better? I can't control my circumstances, and yet I let them control me. Grief, Cancer, Autism, loneliness, depression, mother-guilt, financial stress, my dirty house: step-off. Swiper, no swiping.