Muddy Eyes

Photo credit: Viewminder / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Viewminder / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

As a kid, part of me dreaded the arrival of fall. What kid didn’t after a sunny summer of swimming pools and freedom from classes? Fall represented a time of being stuck indoors in a classroom. But at the same time, I didn’t really hate it. Call me crazy, but I was also eager to see my classmates again. Not that I would’ve admitted that out loud.

Fall is the end of summer. Leaves are falling, creatures are preparing to hibernate, and plants are going dormant. In one sense, it can seem like the end of life. But the end of one thing is always the beginning of another.

I’m happy to leave the heat of summer behind and put on a light jacket. This year has been a bit challenging–okay, tumultuous–at times. It wasn’t awful, but the hope that I had in January was quickly diminished. So yet again, for me, this fall is the beginning of a new beginning. We’re coming up on November, the national month to be grateful. But I’m not going to wait until then to acknowledge my blessings.

This year, I’ve felt very stuck emotionally, mentally, physically, etc. In every way, I have felt like I’m standing in a mud pit and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get out. And when I panic and fling my limbs around in protest, I’m only getting mud in my eyes.

And that only gives me bad visibility on the reality of my situation. Usually, things are not as bad as they seem. But how can you tell with dirt covering your eyes?

But even with that, I’m starting to see that I have an out. It may not come at this exact moment, but I feel like help is on the way. I’m not going to sink any deeper into this pit. I will break free, even if I have to be humbled enough to accept help in doing so.

And the bitterness of this year will be a reminder to me during the better times. I will realize how truly blessed I am. And I will know how good I have it and be grateful.

That’s a gift worth suffering for.

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Death’s Knock

Photo credit: _Hadock_ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

People don’t always know how to react to death. A close co-worker of mine died this past weekend. I could hardly hold myself together after I heard about it. She haunted my steps because she was part of my routine. And now I was expected to go on with my routine as if nothing had changed. But everything had. I had just seen her a few days ago. Thank goodness, she was in high spirits after a  battle with her health.

When I hit the parking lot on my way to lunch, I was already crying. Once I got home, I finally felt like I could release all the sorrow. And I’ll tell you what, it felt good to finally let it all out. But why did I feel like I needed to hide away to cry? I mean, it’s death. No one can tell you to be ashamed of crying for a lost life. Or can they?

From what I have observed, people do whatever they can to push themselves farther from death’s door. Some resort to indifference, even if they have to fake it. Others try jokes, which can come across as morbid or disrespectful, especially to those who really care about the life lost. Some even talk and speculate so much that it becomes gossip. And maybe that’s what some of them want. Because gossip is better than facing death. Another common response is pretending it never happened. I’ve done that too much myself. And this time, I refuse to ignore it. I lost a friend, not just a co-worker. And I’m still dealing with that fact.

No one wants to face death. No one wants to admit how helpless it makes us all feel. That’s why it invokes such fear and confusion. How do you stand against something so utterly powerful? We can’t do much except fight it and most of the time that only prolongs the struggle. We still can’t win against death.

Most of us try to get far enough away that we can’t hear death’s knock. But we’re always just a step away from it, despite the illusion that we’re immune. My co-worker was only 50 years old. She died thinking she would come back to work on Monday like always. She was so excited about a grandchild soon to be born. She thought she had tomorrow, as we all do.

I’m not writing this to be gloomy, so I hope it doesn’t come across that way. It’s just, since I heard about her death, I’ve noticed more beauty around me. The sky was amazing yesterday. There was a faded pink sunset and only a few clouds to hold the color. Birds flew carelessly above me. Then, this morning, I drove right into a sunrise more beautiful than that sunset. This is a new beginning. It’s amazing how death can make you appreciate life so much more.

Life is too short. Everyone always says it, but it takes death to make us feel it fully. I turn 30 in a few months, so 50 doesn’t seem that far off. And that scares me. I’m not afraid of turning 30; actually I’m embracing it. But 50 is too young to die.

What I have learned through this is to stop waiting. Do what you intend to now. You never know when you might hear a knock. Don’t sit around being miserable. Do something. Pursue your happiness. Don’t let others’ reactions bring you down. Often, they don’t realize how powerful their words are.

Make your own positive words more powerful. Don’t give up on getting the gold.

Live.

Photo credit: _Hadock_ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND