Thoughts: Feathers as I Fall

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I’m not feeling it today. It’s been a long week and somehow harder than most for some reason that has nothing to do with the week itself. Some weeks are like that. I’m still wrestling with finding a groove and routine with changes in my life and work.

It’s an odd thing when so much good come into your life, and you have to adjust to it. But change is change, as a therapist once told me, and stress is stress. Even too much of the good kind takes its toll.

That somehow doesn’t seem fair. Good should be allowed to be all good. Bad should be easily identified as such. But that doesn’t seem to be the way it is. I’m not talking shades of grey and theology here, I’m just talking day to day.

God, I have decided, loves crazy diversity, and not content to create a world with immense variety, with a wild mash of color, flora, races, climates, opinions, tastes, food, animals and culture, he seems to need diversity within each person, making of us a mish-mash of thoughts, feelings, and abilities. None of us, it seems, get to be all good or all bad. We have a mad mix of tastes and emotions that at times make no sense.

I’d much rather be able to make clear, simple, all-encompassing judgments. It would be infinitely easier. I could love or hate purely. It would be easy.

But I can’t. People just aren’t that simple. I am not that simple. There’s stuff in me to love and stuff in me to hate and a whole slew of stuff in between on the strange sliding scale that we make judgments with. It’s the same with all of us.

I am very capable. Pretty much whatever you throw me into, I’ll figure out. I sort of take that for granted and it has meant, more than once, that I have lept into things – work, hobbies, artistic endeavors, that I probably had no real qualification for beyond the whole “I’ll figure it out.” thing.

It’s kind of like building a set of wings as you fall into the canyon. There’s a certain kind of stress that goes along with it. It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time. Welcome to my life.

I don’t know why I do this. I have spent a lot of time in therapy and mostly we figured me out – the good and the bad and the ugly; the stuff I can fix and the stuff I just have to manage. Years of figuring out the nooks and crannies, dark and otherwise. That one we didn’t.

Some things you just accept.

And plow through. Even when you are not feeling it.

See, here’s the other thing. Good habits get me through. I have a habit of writing each day. I write in my journal, spewing out the madness of the night, and then I sit down to write a poem, or drivel like this. Mostly, by the time I sit down to write a poem, I’m feeling. The words come easy.

Sometimes they do not. Sometimes it is like living in the eye of Dorothy’s tornado in the Wizard of Oz, with my whole life buzzing around and I am unable to grab any one thing with any surety.

What then?

I write anyway. I put down any old thing. A catchphrase. A passing idea. Truly, anything. Like the opening sentence like this one: I’m not feeling it today. Just anything to get started. To break the logjam.

I don’t know if you noticed, but very little of this little essay has to do with not feeling it. The feeling doesn’t matter. The habit will get you through. You see, I know this: I write every day. My brain is well tuned to write every day. It knows what its job is. So when I start, it resets itself. It may be sluggish (like me in the morning.), but get it started and after a complaint or few, it throws up it’s (metaphoric) arms and gets to it.

It knows what to do. Habit kicks in. Words start piling on words. Stuff shows up. Poetry. Essays. Whatever it is I am writing. I figure it out on the way down. Like I do everything.

Habit. Boring, stupid habit. My savior.

And right now, it’s having to learn a new set of habits. Life is changing, as it does. My longtime habit of writing each morning has had to re-arrange itself. I have new stuff to learn. Just like people, it’s not a simple thing, all good or all bad. It’s a mish-mash.

I used to think old people had it all figured out. I also thought they were too bound by habits. At 63, I have learned differently. We only wish we had it all figured out, but you can’t figure it all out because it’s all changing. Some of us may resent that fact, but we may as well go with it, because as the popular phrase (which I hate, despite its truth), “It is what it is.”  You can leap, or you can be pushed, but change is life.

You build your wings on the way down. Just like everyone else.

And, not having the blueprints, we all come up with a different set of wings. That’s more OK than we like to admit. We’re too busy with judgments,  both of others and more often, and more violently and more destructively, of ourselves.

Instead of just enjoying the world and that crazy diversity God loves so much.

I am a preacher, though I rarely preach here. Not overtly. But I am going to for a paragraph or two. One of the things that has always struck me as I read the bible is the incredible brokenness of God’s people, even the great men and women of God. The whole book is one long collection of broken, flawed people becoming something more with God’s help.

God, it seems, looks through the ugly stuff and finds the good in people, and raises them to their good. Why don’t we? Particularly when dealing with ourselves.

I think it’s a thing of safety. Judgment runs rampant and the more harmfully we can judge, the more hateful, the more loudly and publicly, the more powerful we feel. And those of us being judged feel crushed, even when we are self-judging.

One of the life-changing books in my life is “The Four Agreements“. It is a small book, that says if we make four agreements with ourselves, our life will be changed for the better. One of those agreements is to simply do your best. Sometimes that best is very good indeed. Sometimes it is, because of health, or circumstances, or brokenness, less perfect.

But as long as we do our best, then there is no judgment to be made. That, whatever it is, is good enough.

And so I write every day. Some of it insightful, clever, striking, powerful. Some of it less so. Whether I am feeling it or not. I just do it. I let a lifetime of habit kick in and do what it will.

Tacking on feathers as I fall.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

 

2 thoughts on “Thoughts: Feathers as I Fall

  1. Tom this is an important piece. Thank you for it. I’m back down south in Clayton Georgia now. Just moving back again in June. Since here my world has at least been turned sideways with an 11 day stay in the hospital for acute diverticulitis which abscessed into my abdominal wall. Yikes! Been home for two weeks and still recovering with just finding out that I’ve developed a blood clot in my left leg. So getting medication for that!! It has been about drawing closer to God time and immense appreciation for my family here and all who have and are helping me. Sooo your piece today really spoke to me deeply. Please pray for me too if you would. 😘😇🙏

    • I am glad it resonated with you, Toney. I hope the move was a positive thing for you, despite all the heath issues. (I know the pain of diverticulitis first hand.). And yes, my prayers are with you.

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