In the Darkness

Every several months I take a social media fast. Not that I think there’s anything inherently wrong with being on Facebook, Twitter and the like, but over time scrolling through the noise becomes deafening. So I stop. I let the urge to click, refresh, scroll down, refresh, express my emotion instantly, scroll, and get lost in the labyrinth of friends’ profiles pass me by, even as my fingers seek the keys instinctively. There are days that in my search bar I start typing “Face….” and stop myself just in time, although often I click enter before I can stop myself and come face to face with the tempting log in screen. It’s a daily battle with myself, which I hope will make me stronger in the long run.
The silence hits. Seconds, minutes, hours open up to a new possibility. Where once my eyes perused a 4-inch screen to discover its every last message, now I begin seeing the little details around me. My mind begins to flirt with thoughts that I’ve shut out for months or ignored vehemently by seeking an alternative train of thought at the touch of a button.
Am I enough? My mind searches desperately for a reason to escape giving an answer. Do I need to forgive? Maybe there are dishes that still need to be washed, laundry that needs to be folded, a room that still needs to be vacuumed. Do they really care? Reading is supposed to be good for you, maybe it’s time to pull an old classic from the bookshelf and lose myself in the prose of an author who actually had it all figured out. Am I where I should be? I bet there are still some unanswered emails in my inbox, and it would be rather rude not to respond to them right away, even though they’re from last week. What do I need to change?
It’s in the silence, deliberating with myself, that I start to hear the squeaks in what I once thought was a well-oiled instrument, accentuating areas that need tending to, especially in the painful-to-reach corners. The unnerving process of confronting each thought head on often gives me a headache. It’s not like I’m going to figure out the answers to all of my questions right now anyway. So why try?

These thoughts lead to somewhere in the darkness. Maybe the darkness is exactly where I need to be from time to time.

Give it Up

There are many moments in our life where we feel like giving up. Some times are simple, like a game you’re never going to win even if you keep trying. It can get a bit more serious, like a friendship with someone who is selfish and never takes you into consideration. There are also the big moments, like quitting a job, deciding to file for divorce, moving away, etc. And some people even get to the point that they want to give up on life. For the record, I never encourage this one. Never give up on life.

I have a hard time giving up. I will often stay waiting for hours for someone because I’m afraid that as soon as I walk away, the person will arrive. I hate that thought of missing something amazing because I walked away a minute too soon. I’m not sure where that particular fear comes from but I’ve lived with it for a long time.

I think this way on so many topics. What if I walked away from this person, and they were just about to change? Or what if I give up on this project right before the committee decides to adopt it. I guess that’s me living in the land of “what if” and letting it control my life again. This is a dangerous way to live. I keeps too many of us in bad situations because of how they may some day change. Don’t give up too soon, sure, perseverance is incredible important. But perseverance for the sake of perseverance may not get you where you want to be.

There are moments to give up on some things. I have always grown up holding tight to my memories, because somehow I thought that a moment wasn’t worth living if you weren’t going to remember it anyway. But in the last few years I’ve learned the value of giving up negative memories. Yes, negative moments may have helped shaped you into the person you are, and maybe you should never forget the lessons that you learned as a result, but you don’t need to hold on to memories that hurt you. Give it up. Some habits or traditions are in your life for no good reason. If they’re not there for a good reason, they probably shouldn’t be there. Give it up. Some things if your life might be doing damage.

Maybe, just maybe, learning to give up the small things to make a better life for yourself and those around you will give you the courage to give up the big things that are holding you down.

Day 12: Life’s not fair

Today was a tough day. With the holiday season and coworkers on vacation, there have a been a few extra responsibilities to look out for, but I can handle that. Today I spent most of my day immersed in the news articles about the Mandera Massacre in Kenya. It’s gruesome, so I’ll spare you the details (read them online if you want to). The whole story shook me to be honest. But one small little detail snuck almost unnoticed. The Adventist Church that meets in that town, approximately 15-20 people on a regular basis, had 4 armed guards the morning they were meeting, BEFORE news arrived of an attack. So meeting with at church for them comes with armed policemen outside to help keep them alive. 

Day 12: We often see how our life isn’t fair; some people in the world have worse than we can imagine. I’ve lived in unsafe places before, and know the reality of not living in the sheltered environment. But I have never lived somewhere that I needed an armed guard to meet somewhere with people who believe the same thing I do. 

My heart breaks for the lives that were lost, the families that were broken, the community that was changed forever. Those who remain face more than most of us will ever have to. Life’s not fair. But for just a moment I realize how much worse it could be. May we never forget.

Hold on Tight

Life has its ups and downs. We’ve all lived it, a few days where nothing can go wrong, then a week of “blah.” Maybe there were a few months of horrible then a scattered sprinkling of hopeful possibilities. Of course the moments that we deem worthy of sharing of the good ones, the great ones for those of us that don’t share as often. I may choose not to share online every time I have a bill to pay and I’m not sure where the money will come from or every time I have a low-grade fever. The big lows we may share, being in the hospital, a car accident, etc. But does that make them more worthy in our life?

A full life is not made of Facebookable moments, but rather of life in all its glory. We need those highlights, those marking moments to keep on our horizon to keep us from getting sea sick during life’s normal ups and downs. Maybe you’ve had less of those “amazing” moments, that doesn’t mean you lived any less. Soak in those ridiculously simple moments, bask in the glory of your trip to the grocery store or feel as bored as the moment demands.

What makes you feel alive? I’ve come to realize that life, much like love, is a choice and not merely an emotion. Oh yes, there is emotion involved. But you love because you choose to love. And likewise we keep living even when sometime the emotion of “feeling alive” isn’t present. Sometimes living is an act of faith, faith that things will get better, that the flat moments will somehow lead to new highs, that the low moments will once again be followed by the slow climb up.

Sometimes our only hope is to hold on tight to the life we have, stay in the car and hope that’s enough.

A Cup of Tea

Here at work, our department is full of tea drinkers. It seems as if the pot is always boiling or at very least, always hot. Our “chocolate drawer” is actually filled with tea bags. July and August were perhaps our highest months of tea consumption, despite the heat. Even our office plants drink (cooled down, left over) tea; they grow like weeds now. In short, we are a tea office.

I must say there is something so fabulous about a cup of tea. The hot water melts away stress built up slowly throughout the day. The soft flavor awakens sensitivity to the hints of subtle beauty in the world. The warmth of the cup soaks into your hands reigniting the consciousness of the connection between the mind, heart and body. And a conversation on the other side of a hot cup of tea resinates longer in your ears, reaching further into the depths of your soul. Nothing quite compares to the morning’s first cup of tea.

I once had a grief counselor talk to me about the value of “sitting down to have a cup of tea with your grief.” The basic concept is to become friends with your grief, face it straight on, experience it and understand it instead of avoiding it. Once this daily or weekly meeting is over, stand up and live the rest of your day away from your grief. I can think of no better setting to address such a difficult reality on a regular basis, with a hot cup of tea soothing the one wound which takes the longest to scar.

I am sure you have heard the theory of people being like tea. It is when we are put in hot water (difficult circumstances) that our true flavor (character) can bloom and be fully appreciated. Or maybe that is not a common thought, and I just created a brilliant new metaphor. Someday I will revisit that thought.

Excuse me, I have to get back to work; it’s tea time.