7.11.2010

What's your story morning glory?


 "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view."
 (from the character Atticus Finch)
~Harper Lee 


A fortuitous conversation with a friend today brought a new awareness.  
We are all born to be storytellers.  We all have stories.  We have sad, happy, crazy, shameful, divine, sublime, mysterious, simple, courageous, and afraid stories.  And everything in between.  

We learn so massively much when we stop long enough here and there to hear and tell stories.  I heard a story today that un-blurred my metaphorical lenses.  I heard a story of intense perseverance through abandonment and uncertainty.  I didn't watch a movie or read a 300 page heavily edited autobiography.  I had a conversation.
A dialogue, a telling of a story. Just the fact alone that this tale was being told- with insight, forgiveness, and humor- was evidence of modern day miracles.

This interaction brought to mind a daily battle of mine, stemming from my own story, the life awaiting me from the day I was born. 
I fear loss.  Unbelievably, invariably, ceaselessly.  
This fear sounds dreary at the very best.  The awareness of loss and the unrelenting hold it has on its prey has driven me to question lots and lots through the last 3 decades.

When I was born, a family, my family already existed.  They had bedtime rituals, Saturday breakfasts, and slews of pacifiers, baby bottles and a previously inhabited crib.  They had pictures hanging on the walls of cute, chubby first and second born, wedding photos, and diplomas.  They had baby books containing birth certificates that mine slipped right into.  Time had already been kind and unkind to this family.  1st steps were taken and laughs were to be had over first words from baby 1 and 2.  The house I was born into was already a haven of memories inviting me to take part in.  These memories have always been mysteries to me, the ones before I was invited in.  
One mystery came from a time that had been unkind. My mother's tears over a baby that grew in her belly, stretching it as my brothers’ and I had.  Her belly grew and the baby grew too.  The sweet baby that grew couldn't catch his breath when he left my mama's womb and he went to heaven the day he was born.  Her tears came off and on when she lost her own mama and I was so young yet wanted to take the pain and loss away from her orphaned heart.  I couldn’t.  So I feared someone or something else being taken away. 

I was born into this painful paradox of life at its most blissful, and loss at its most unthinkable. I blame no one, and I don't resent life for introducing loss so soon.  It was simply reality, and one that inhabited my home, as did the full-of-life photos already mounted on the walls when I came.  
Only in recent years have I connected the hopeful, miraculous, fortuitous side of the story. 
It goes like this:  awareness of the brevity of life has brought Gratitude that envelops my soul, blissful calm settles into my core when a simple moment reveals 'life'.  Life meaning: sensing breath warmth closeness, absence of fear, presence of peace, revealed through the simplest seconds life may bring… in an instant.  

Example:  quiet bedtime snuggles with babies, and then growing boys, prayers uttered, affirmation rolling easily off the tongue aware of the fertile heart ground these words fall on.  “I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Closeness. Maternal instinct. This miraculous life. Closing of a day. So lucky to have played. So lucky to have stayed when my inner demons almost tore it-away. Grace. Sigh.  And moving on.
Before i knew this strong power of gratitude in the present,
  I had fought and fought and feared and feared til the fears of possibly losing the ones I loved almost won.

I’m re-learning how to take the part of my story, the one where my sweet mama's tears revealed a broken heart mixed with unconditional instinctive mother love for her living brood.  
Now I understand why she would spend so many nights reading Uncle Wiggly stories or lulling me to sleep with that subdued end-of-the-day lullaby voice, when she herself was exhausted.  And why she cherished the most mundane of activities with her children.  Now I understand why she prayed and prays, to plug the drain with faith rather than tears over losses sustained through the unkind-er years. 

Of course during most of my childhood and adolescence I didn't understand.  I couldn't understand.  I do now, I understand that every waking moment I have a choice to fear loss or relish life- in the moment.  I have a choice to engage in the ambiguity of living life on life’s terms, or sit it out- so afraid of what the future brings based on my original observations of life.  

Back to the story I heard today:  The choice this friend and fellow life survivor made was to connect with people and life rather than sink into the pity of a past riddled with loss.  To choose love rather than isolation.

I went away from his-story changed. 
The story is that I was born into love and possibility.  My early observations of loss and life and everything in between doesn't have to be my ever-present reality.  Overwhelming gratitude in the moments that beg wholehearted attention replace the avoidance of such times due to fear of losing something or someone. 

The fear of loss tries to peek its way into my viewfinder now and then. 
Even through grateful times, courageous times, snuggle times, connecting times- sometimes palpable- fear will not, cannot win.  Life is too precious and powerful and profound to stay afraid.

I'll eschew the fear today and embrace the other side of the story.  The side that welcomes simple times as the divinest of times, never to be taken for granted, hurried through, or feared.  

A simple story told by someone else- someone who chooses to be awake and connected to life in the face of early abandonment and detachment-
revealed a new view into my own story, which I hope may do the same in yours.  Your story will no doubt do the same in someone else’s story.  
And so it goes. 




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