When my kids were little, my life revolved around a second hand beige mini-van. My kids lived in that van as though it were their second home. It was filled with pieces of our lives. Footballs, extra shoes (the one’s Allie was missing), books, CDs, and army men were littered across the seats and floor. Trips to McDonalds left paper cups disintegrating in the cupholders, chicken nuggets hiding under the seat, and fries littered like confetti across the seats.
My van made continual loops around Athol daily, between Athol and Westminster several times a week. It made additional trips across the western half of the state in search of uncomfortable bleachers and inedible food on the sidelines of my children’s games. My beige chariot moved us through life. We were moving so quickly, it was easy to let the debris get out of hand and the mess could get to unreasonable levels.
Once, when it had been a particularly bad day. I gathered my friend Kathy for a treat at our favorite spot. With a combined six children within 7 years, we had our hands full. Life was busy and we were running on empty. I picked her up in front of her house. I accelerated down the road and she yelled for me to STOP! I jammed on the breaks and all the junk in the backseat came flying forward.
Suddenly, there were soda cans under my feet, along with a missing baseball that should have gone in the bag at the field. Papers and clothes, flip flops and a hat, beanie babies and legos appeared out of nowhere. All the things that had been accumulating in the back of my minivan came toward me.
In this moment, I am surrounded by messy emotions, the frustration with the slow pace of physical healing, and the grief that accompanies a major health crisis. While I would very much like to just hit the accelerator, and fill up this empty space. I know that won’t serve me best. I need to recognize these messier realities and the quiet after the storm seems a good place to do this.
So, I am pacing myself and guarding my energy. Keith and I are talking a lot about how to curate a healthier lifestyle. We are thinking about what matters now. We’re talking about nutrition and time management, and implementing changes in our days. We’re guarding the calendar. We’re leaving lots of space in our days. I’ll be beginning physical therapy soon to try and address the new deficits I can’t seem to overcome. Together, we are determined to use this moment as a reset in our lives.
I have to believe life is smoothing out for a bit. But, even if there is another mountain just around the bend, I am certain that taking some time to prioritize health and wholeness will only help us with whatever comes next. I don’t believe that bracing against the bad actually helps, I think that it just insulates us from the good things happening all around us in our everyday life.
It shouldn’t take a major health crisis to push us to imagine our best life. But, for us it has. The truth is, this life is the main event. I think it deserves a little more attention than I’ve paid it before now. Maybe I have one job all the time, to come to my one wild life as whole as I possibly can.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?