Friday, February 12, 2016

The Mess

"This was not part of the plan."

I hear myself say this a lot, and I hear my students say it, too.

Life has dealt a Thing – an injury, an illness, an unplanned pregnancy, a different ability.

A tear in the fabric.

The Thing we thought would last forever, the unimaginable Thing, the dreaded Thing. The Thing we forgot to plan for. The Thing has become a mess.

Life has misplaced her end of the contractual agreement that we wrote, promising warm nights and salty breezes, punctuated by sweet moments and ample rest. Life did not accurately keep score on the times we arrived early, pulled more than our weight, paid for the next person in line. She was turned the other way when we gave our brother the bigger half of the cookie, and somehow didn't notice just how many times we dug for genuine joy when someone won the prize we were after.

Even when they didn't appreciate it.

Life seems not to notice the big and little efforts, even when they are unsuccessful or particularly bitter. Life behaves, at times, like an unruly toddler – destroying best-laid plans, biting your ankles, and speaking emphatically in a language you do not understand.

I like to think that my life would be better if it would just follow the f*cking plan. Like we alternate back and forth with who is in the lead, because while I've never been strong with the tango and often forget the steps, I would still like to be in charge. Even though the dance would probably go smoother for everyone if I would simply abdicate, I can't get over the fact that she did not give me full credit for the things that I have done – so how could I possibly trust her?

And then she steamrolls me. All of a sudden I'm upside down in a massive dip, my feet flailing in the air, thinking – I was not prepared for this. I did not learn this wacky move in the Cotillion. I hear my mother's voice yelling something like, “ass over elbows” or “ass over elephants” and I think – yes, that is exactly how this feels. This thing is it – not survivable. Not part of my plan, no tools to extricate myself.

Except that over and over I find myself surviving situations just as these – the unthinkable things that defy the vocabulary of the After School Special, the things that linger between the lines of sacred texts.

The things too unimaginable to be warned about.

The Things that I have survived – The Things that YOU have survived – that is the miracle. That we made it through the unimaginable, or that we're making it through the unimaginable, or that despite the fact that we cannot see the edge of imaginable, from our ass over elbows position – we are going to make it through. We somehow have the tools around us and within us to weather the most unpredictable, the most epic, the completely unprecedented.

That, is life.

The next time you think, "I didn't sign up for this!" remember that you did. Remember that this is exactly the mess that you signed up for. The things that you have done and the reason that you came here: to untangle this mess. You have the tools to do this.

(At least, that's what I keep telling myself)