When I’m tired, or taken aback by crisis or challenge or harsh criticism, or afraid, I become pretty irrational pretty quick.
In other words, I lose all perspective. I’m better about this than I used to be, but its definitely a growing edge for my soul, and I wish that weren’t so. I wish I could take things more in stride, react more calmly to an unexpected financial burden or a difficult situation at work. I wish I didn’t take criticism so personally. I wish that fatigue wasn’t such an enemy for me.
An arrow struck straight and true just into the soft spot of this Achilles heel of mine yesterday, and, as is par for the course in such moments, I didn’t handle it well. I got very quiet at first. And then I cried for a good bit. I refused to listen to words from a friend that were meant to offer me a way forward. I immediately assumed the worst possible result and in doing so blocked out any other options for how to deal with what I’d been handed.
(The specifics of the situation don’t matter, suffice it to say, while it is a challenge, it is not life-threatening, or even life-altering…just a bump in the road in the grand scheme of things.)
And then these things happened:
1. A text from someone who means a great deal to me, letting me know his friend who has been battling cancer is facing the end.
2. A Facebook post from another friend who just lost her brother and is handling the loss with more strength and hope than you could possibly imagine.
3. I wrote. With detail, and with a forced calm, and with quiet focus, I wrote about what was eating at me, and in doing so, it became manageable, something I could face with some resolve and courage.
4. I went for a quick swim and read a few chapters of a good novel and took my dog for a long walk.
Somewhere between #1 and #4 my head cleared and my heart settled down and I could feel both my creativity and my sense of humor returning.
I gained perspective. I was reminded of goodness. And of how entirely selfish I can be. And of the very terrible and very beautiful things that happen–sometimes in twin moments, in shared spheres of existence–in our lives. It was as if my entire orientation to the world had gone from squeezed up tight and small to suddenly, mercifully, expansive and wide.
Like the Yosemite Valley on an early spring day. The sky wide and full of promise. The mountains rising up to the heavens. The thunder of waterfall and the rush of wind a sign of something so much bigger than us at work in the world.
And once again, I whispered to myself Wendell Berry’s words that there is a “grace that keeps this world,” — all that is truly awful, all that we just imagine might be awful, and all that points us toward love and light…kept, held, contained within the firm grip of grace.