Every morning, a rowdy cloud of birds descends on the deck to steal food from the dog's bowl and gossip wildly about the woman sitting behind the glass door with her tea and her words--how this gathering of thoughts must be as essential to her survival as the thievery is to theirs. For so long, I felt I led an incredibly balanced life. My place, centered...my roles, clear...my future, certain. Now, everyone knows that the minute you have this thought is when life is sure to assert itself and shake up whatever sense of "certainty" you have. But, there is always this vain belief or half-prayer that upheavals "won't happen to me". Maybe we believe it because they never happen to us or perhaps, like me, we believe we have somehow already "paid our dues" in terms of suffering or wild uncertainty and, therefore, are safe from it. We owe life nothing, surely, after all the different experiences we've had and grown through and learned from...
And yet, it happens--things arrive that we don't want to deal with or go through. Nothing so traumatic as to put our lives or health in danger--nothing like what people go through every day in war zones and beneath violent oppressive regimes, but more than "our share", whatever we think that is. But, then a day like today comes...a day of sunlight and 60-degree weather in the heart February. Completely unexpected and unlike what our winter weather is supposed to be. The children shed their heavy coats and go outside to run around with friends, their voices in play a call and response holier to me than any church service can boast of. Today, I put on sandals and let my feet feel the air again after months of hibernation in heavy woolen socks. I scatter stale breadcrumbs for the birds and they eye me suspiciously from the trees because the warmth has made them release their desperate longings and fears about survival. Rains are moving steadily this way--cold returns tonight, so it is only a brief trial run of clemency. But, just for this moment...it is enough for me.
I wanted an "ordinary life"...quiet enough and solid enough that I could create pure chaos in my creative worlds. I have clung to the illusion of control--have convinced myself that my superstitions and affirmations could forever assure me safe passage through my life. But this is an illusion...instead of control, I am moving towards acceptance. I accept where I am--even though it isn't exactly where I wanted to be. I accept what has happened and what is still to come--even when it doesn't go along with my prescribed vision of my future. There is a pattern to all of our experiences--even when we cannot see it from where we are standing. It isn't our job to hang on...not even to the good things, the perfect moments, the accomplishments and joys. What we are called to learn is how to let go. Never an easy task for someone like me--a gatherer of bits and pieces, odds and ends...a brooder who frets thoughts between her fingers until they wear thin with constant contact. Nothing is certain except uncertainty. I promise you this. Nothing. Understanding this is letting me open up to the here and now...the gifts and the struggles.
Early this morning, a *rejection* of a short story I'd submitted was sitting in my email inbox. The editor said he "sat and sat with this one", that I had "glorious images" but somehow, for him, it still fell "somehow just right of center" and asked me to send something else. I had a ripple of disappointment...brewed a pot of tea and swept the floor, wrote in my journal and then stood outside after the first rains passed by. "Just right of center" echoed through me and I found myself laughing because that editor has no idea how perfectly this describes my entire life right now. I felt grateful for those words, even though they weren't attached to the "yes" I thought I needed. I let go of my expectations and took the gift hidden in the unwanted. When I got back onto the computer moments before I wrote these words, my inbox had another message. This time, from an editorial group *accepting* the poem I sent. One commented, "Yes. Gorgeous, even with the strangeness," and I knew I'd found my second description of where things are for me right now. Yes and no...just right of center and gorgeous even with the strangeness...certainly ordinary and completely unpredictable in every single way.