Oof y’all this is going to be another rambler, but isn’t that life?
I certainly don’t live in neatly structured chunks that all have an obvious goal, a well-defined plan of attack, and a satisfying conclusion- this ain’t an essay! IF ONLY…. I’m great at essays. But in these messier parts of life I have learned (and even fondly embraced) messier thinking. I used to think in black and white- now I get that 90% of reality is actually some shade of gray.
So here’s a little outline for you- I have been reading a book called At Home by Bill Bryson. He spends a good amount of time on the leaps and bounds forward in art and science achieved during the Victorian period in England. As industrial progress was made, the daily tasks of life became more efficient, and folks suddenly had lots of time freed up. They saw the opportunity and took off running… which had me reflecting on the concept of human creativity, leisure, and ingenuity despite a supposed lack of qualification. They didn’t have experts in specific areas of science, so they became it. They didn’t have the concept of architects, so they started a new profession. The list goes on and on! Complete novices and hobbyists suddenly found themselves experts of an entire field.
I couldn’t help but draw a comparison between that idea and what we are experiencing now- this incredibly innate human creativity and excitement being generated by the loss of our daily commitments.
THEN, I started to also think about Mother’s Day… thank you, advertising agencies. I always forget about it. I am a member of a facebook group focused solely on grief for the loss of a mother, and one of our newest members asked for advice leading up to May 10th. What could I say? I went back to one of my first posts. And boy did I also need to hear it. (If you need it, too, here is the link!)
AND THEN I saw a Tik Tok, of all things, of a woman speaking about making decisions from a point of abundance. I had heard of this idea a few times before- we all have. But with the current condition of my mind, it hit differently.
These might all seem unrelated, but over the last few days, these thoughts have miraculously snapped together as neatly as legos.
Just to confirm my thought, I asked my friends on facebook to define their personal concept of “resilience” during the Shelter In Place Order. Their answers confirmed my suspicions.
The proof (from England’s history) that incredible progress can be the product of leisure? The gentler feelings I have about Mother’s day this year? My friends’ resilience? My own?
They all stem from the same attitude.
The final piece came as I lay in bed reading tonight. Bryson added a footnote about Horace Walpole- the architect who started neo-gothic as well as “gothick” literature. Like okay he designs mansions AND he’s a best selling author? Ohhhhh okay.Then the footnote says that he MADE UP WORDS, many of which we use today! Boulevard. Cafe. Caricature. Impresario. Mudbath. Nuance. Serendipity. Souvenir. Somber. Comfortable.
HE MADE THESE UP.
And it’s not the fact that he had the ability to concoct these words… it’s his audacity. His creativity. The accepting nature of a culture that would allow a writer to just make shit up. My english teachers would have murdered me for that up until the time I was 22! Or, at least they would have taken points off my grade. To a straight A student that kinda feels like the same thing…
What type of society was so forgiving and also willing to step into those new ideas with him?
I am willing to be that’s where we are at now. All the rules have been broken, our habits tossed aside, and presentability? To hell with it.
In this vacuum, new STUFF pours in. I have no idea what that stuff is gonna end up being, but I am so excited. Art? Music? Cultural values? Fashion? Body image? Recipes? Sports? Traditions? Games?
The possibilities are endless and everyone has the opportunity to fill in the space.
Lovely things happen when ordinary people are given a chance to dream.
So what does this have to do with me and my mom? What does it have to do with my community during “quarantine”? It all comes down to a focus on what we HAVE, not what we lack.
Yes. I could mourn my mom’s absence. I do. I also embrace how very much she gave me that I will never ever lack- my body, my brain, my personality, my values, my isms, my DNA, my family, my knowledge, my home, my experiences… I could go on forever. I was so freaking lucky. Am lucky. I would have gladly taken more, but it only hurts so much because I had so much to lose.
This is what I see my people doing. They celebrate the small victories. They are thankful for their health. They relish simple routines. They enjoy grace and space. They enjoy THEMSELVES, maybe some for the first damn time. They especially appreciate their health like never before. Air in their lungs does not go unrecognized.
You have heard it before. Glass half full mentality. Gratitude practice. Optimism. “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Abundance.
I think of it as Selective Focus. What’s really important? What do you want to highlight? What do you want to take away from each moment? What are you gonna choose to care about?
There will always be great loss in our lives- that is the way of things. Matter decays, energy wanes, stories end, scenes change. What is it worth if we didn’t squeeze all the good we could out of it?
One more anecdote- I went on a first date with this guy, and he asked me what title I would choose if I were to write a “self help” book. A weird way of asking what I value in life, but okay… after some faltering I said, so surely, “You Have Enough, You Are Enough.”
As fancifully as my thoughts try to curl and loop around a concept, they always come back to that. You have enough, and you are enough- if only you focus on all the good that’s already there.