Capturing life in words…
Now solidly in my 40s, I am able to accept my path is not my destination. This reality has allowed me to get through some horrible events in life: divorce, rape, cancer and trying to parent a child with autism alone. Had I allowed myself to succumb and remain in any of those moments and convinced myself, “My life will always be like this,” I am certain I’d gone mad or be dead.
There is a delicate line between facing our own inner hell and taking what helps versus falling into perpetual victim mode. For example, I have been many things thus far in life, some wonderful such as mother and social worker, others torturous such as “survivor of sexual assault”, “patient of cancer” or “only surviving child”. I never forget I am a mother– my heart is always tethered in a silent bubble of love to each of my three children. Yet, some roles I choose not to wallow as they serve no purpose.
I could identify myself constantly in relation to my former pathology, and focus on the cancer. This mindset would have me nervously ticking off days of being “cancer-free” and posting status updates reading, “I am 14 months free of cancer today.” I would probably see my life as a battle. Which, indeed, is a truism– we all are in a battle each day. Every decision and action we take has a ripple effect, and should we choose to let a traffic jam at 7:30 a.m. shadow us for 12 hours and ruin our whole day, this small decision shadows every interaction and breath of our day. Hence, the battle of life’s gift would be lost in multiple ways. The smiles and chuckles we missed, the chance friendship you may have developed through a positive comment you could and would have made, on a better day- yes, little things are lost.
Little things being lost is the biggest deal of all. Life IS the little things. Evidence of this can be seen by little triggers. Moments remembered are triggered by a smell, a song, a resemblance — and we are transported for a breath of time to remembering a little thing which we have carried within our soul a lifetime.
And yes, little things make up who we are. We are a sum of traits and characteristics, roles and responsibilities, quirks and cares. We are cellular systems and a psyche working together. We are one person in a great big world spinning within an universe. We are little things, yet hugely important. So important, our loss and disappearance would be devastating to some and celebrated by angels as we enter the kingdom of heaven (per my belief). Little is big, really.
My oldest son has a little habit, which is for him a big thing. He is a fiddler. He, like his younger brother, has fingers always moving and manipulating something. When he visits I do not clear of the kitchen table — completely. If it were completely cleared off, he’d stand nervously beside it and barely participate in conversation. Yet, with one little change, a big transformation occurs. For years I make sure to throw some items on the table for touching and he relaxes into himself and will talk and fiddle. It’s the little habit of fiddling which opens him up. I will always think of him when I see someone else smiling and talking as they fiddle with a pen or napkin.
I am also grateful he and his brother do not limit themselves with labels or roles. My sons have a lovely perspective of not boxing themselves in with a label. Although one is a genius with computers and the other a advocate of justice, neither walk about tagged as “a computer guy” or “the autistic guy focused on fairness”. Although 8 years apart in age, both have embraced unconsciously the freedom of meaningful living. They enjoy simple things: the tangy taste of a ripe berry, the unspoken language of ants and time with people they love. They are not boxed in with negative labels, such as “child of divorced parents”, as this statistical category is a little thing with far-reaching impacts. Take a moment and imagine how a little difference ripples out touching perceptions, opportunities gained or lost and impact into the lives of others.
Quality of life is in the little things. Truly. In working hospice, I have met hundreds of families and they all reminisced about the little lovely moments and characteristics of their loved one. Equally, the client who was on their death bed was most thankful or distraught about the many little things, which really were the big things. It wasn’t the big events, such as landing that job or using ten years of savings on a house. Those big events mattered at some level, yet were not held tenderly in the heart.
So as I step into the next moment with my family, and leave this computer, I am happy to drop all the labels (survivor, victim, patient, divorce’) and immerse myself in the next moment. That’s all. Live the next moment with a fullness and awareness of a wide-eyed child.
Peace be with you