Sunday, February 28, 2016
I have become the great piddler, the great waster of time, the great quiet observer. I used to be busy, busy, busy with my life: nurse my babies, raise my children, cook endless meals, clean house, show up to family functions with a smile, shop for groceries, attend college, study deep into the night, divert energy to a divorce, attend school conferences, travel one hundred and forty miles round trip daily to another college, graduate, find a job teaching, raise the children some more. help them wrestle with their teen years, clean the house some more, wash clothes, fall in and out of love, juggle not enough money for too many bills, work, work, work. Living life meant being too busy to truly ponder it, shifting its weight back and forth in my hands to weigh decisions that I always thought would be available. If not now, then tomorrow. I can always do it tomorrow.
That is what my life was once. Now my life seems to holding its breath, for what I don’t know. No more children to raise, no more teaching high school students, no more buying work clothes, no more feeling useful, productive, needed. I now juggle doctor appointments, fight insurance companies, clench my teeth when someone asks how I’m feeling, endlessly refill my medicine tins, re-read books I have read before, read online news, write when I am able, and wait wait wait for tomorrow when my body will be mine again and I can get back to the business of attending to life. And in the process I have discovered so many kindred spirits who are waiting also. Kindred spirits who have been forced to rearrange the many tiles of their lives. They live in the quiet shadows, attempting to reinvent themselves. asking themselves, “What now?” while watching
all the busy people hurry past. We become accustomed to the predictability of life and when that predictability is taken away before we are prepared, or as prepared as we fool ourselves into thinking we can be, we flounder like gasping fish who find themselves in a suddenly dry riverbed.
The business of reinventing oneself while being fully at the mercy of forces beyond one’s control is daunting and perplexing and liberating and confining, all at once. Waking up each morning to try and fit our now square selves into the round pegs of our former lives. It’s like discovering a secret brotherhood that has its own language, its own timetables, its own tools, its own beliefs, its own rules- all quite different from what we believed would always be enduring and controllable. We step into a new land that on the surface looks the same, but underneath, where we are made to go, down the rabbit hole, the whole of life takes on other hues and other perspectives. We are Alice who drank the potion and became quite, quite small, then tried to rectify that smallness by eating the cake that would make us so much larger than our surroundings. A largeness that consumes us and sets us apart. And even if some day we manage to climb out of the rabbit hole, the experience will have irrevocably changed us, so that we are forever cut off from the person we were before the deep descent.
To all the people who have been pushed down the rabbit hole by cancer, crippling arthritis, severe injury, heart disease, diabetes, depression, the death of a child or spouse, COPD, Alzheimer’s, M.S, persistent Lyme disease, lupus, and any of the other myriad things that life can dream up, there are more of us down the rabbit hole than you realize. I won’t tell you to “fight on” or “be brave” or any of the other clichés that are about as useful as water to a drowning man or legs to a fish. I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. You aren’t alone. I see you.
Posted by Liti