Here is what I want you to know.
You’re doing a good job.
No, really. You are. I am certain of it.
Yes, in spite of the piles of laundry. Yes, even though you cry every time you think about filing your taxes. Yes, even though so-and-so is mad at you and you forgot to sign the field trip form and your desk is piled with paper and your inbox is exploding and you ate junk food last night and you forgot to meditate the last seven years.
Here is the thing that I am still learning to understand: it never stops being messy. Even at its best moments, life is MESSY.
This is true in spite of the fact that:
- Advertising uses images of airbrushed perfection to create a yawning sense of need and anxiety.
- Instagram shows us pictures of beauty and calm serenity and perpetually happy people.
- Even wonderful art takes the mess of life and freezes it in time, making it beautiful and poignant and deep.
So for the longest time I tried to get my life to that point so that I could have peace and calm and beauty. I worked so hard to get things to that place of calm stasis so that I could rest.
What I didn’t understand is that that moment never comes. Even when things are great, even when they’re wonderful, they are constantly in a state of flux and change. Even as one thing is triumphant, another part is breaking. It’s so easy to think that this means we’re doing something wrong.
Apparently it’s just the nature of things.
Frankly, I hate this.
But apparently it’s just the way it is. We fix things and then they break. Things are clear, and then they get murky again. We figure out how to keep our house clean, and then our soul tells us to tear it down and build a castle. We get the hang of our job, and then we yearn to take on a ridiculously impossible creative challenge. We do the laundry and then it has to be done again.
And sometimes our hearts get broken.
It’s waaaay too much to handle.
And yet we handle it.
We cry, and then we get up. We put our heads on the table, and then we make a cup of tea. We watch tv in a stupor until our eyes glaze over, and then we turn it off and take a breath. We throw a little temper tantrum and then we pick up the phone. We say “Well this is totally unfair and I should not have to deal with this pile of shit, but it’s on my porch so I’m going to get a shovel.”
We just carry on, loves.
We carry on like epic fucking badasses.
We tell the truth. We feel our feelings. We don’t sugarcoat or lie or pretend. We face the mess and do the best we can with it. But then we keep going. We do the next thing that is in front of us.
If it’s hard, we do it with as much integrity and grace as we can muster. If it’s joyful, we try to be as present and as grateful as we can be.
And most of the time we will fail miserably at this and we will be neither graceful nor grateful. We (by which I mean I) will be full of rage and grief and poorly chosen words. It feels awful when that happens. But then we get a chance to just try it again.
It’s funny, because many of the things in my life now look like that beautiful peaceful image I was working toward for so long. My home is lovely. It stays uncluttered and beautiful, and it’s full of flowers and sunlight. I have work that I adore. My heart is full of people I love mightily and fiercely.
All those things are true. They’re not airbrushed staged images that you see on Instagram– life really is that full of beauty. But there are still moments when I pound the table in frustration, when I cry in disappointment or bewilderment, when I say “I just can’t do this for one second longer.”
But then I do.
And you can too.
And when you do, I think it’s fucking beautiful. I think it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.
I think it’s kind of the whole point.
So carry on, dearhearts.