Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Favorite Quote

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it. ~Rita May Brown

Amen, sistah!

How many years did I spend stressed about a whole lot that never mattered? Way too many. I always struggled paradoxically with a need to please others and sense of independence. There’s something to be said about letting go of expectations. My own expectations about myself or others or trying to live according what others expect of you.

All of that is hogwash. Trying to make others fulfill your expectations is just a lot of worry and headache. All you’ll ever get is the wrong tin of paint. I’m starting this metaphor awkwardly, but you know, you go into the paint department and oo and ahh over all the pretty rainbows and after perusing and taking a handful of little cardboard stripes home and placing them around the room to see which shade of what color is just right in every light, maybe even decide to mix a couple of shades. Then you trot back to the store all perky with you newfound discovery and have them blend up a bunch of cans. You slap the paint up on the walls as fast as you can, whistling all the while, or hire a professional, or some college kids, and the next thing you know, it just isn’t working out the way you expected. A few weeks down the road, it still isn’t working for you. Well, in my old ways, I would have fretted about that dang paint for years. Now, I just say, oh well, and it’s done. So, it’s a little more rose than peach.

The same goes for people, especially those closest to you. You can set yourself up for a lot of disappointment, or you can enjoy them the way they are, quirks and all. Because, guess what – you’ve got ‘em, too.

I still find myself getting into stupid arguments with my husband or my kids over stupid things, like why can't you put the toilet seat down, or who farts at the dinner table?! Or why is the stack of papers I was in the middle of sorting through, piled all back together again and shoved in a weird corner? Who put an empty cereal box back in the cabinet, and who ate all my chocolate? Or would someone please do what I ask the first time I ask, so the dog won’t pee the rug for not having been walked, for instance?

Frankly, sometimes a fart just happens, the toilet seat is another thing entirely that is a major source of discourse at the Women’s Annual Meeting. Everyone’s sense of what organization looks like is different, kids just clearly don’t see the bottom of the box, and if it was their chocolate lying out unattended, I’d have probably eaten it, too. And the dog has free access to the backyard, even if a walk helps calm the little spaz down long enough to pee, respectful of our living space.

After you get past all the little annoying ephemera, what really matters?

Love and Life. It’s fun, g-d it. But only if you let it be.

I have done a variety of things on stage since I was a kid, from singing, dancing to acting and poetry readings. I used to get completely choked up in a stage-fright of whether or not I had the darn thing memorized. Invariably, I sweated profusely, shook like an earthquake or more accurately, like I was in mid-seizure, and worried not only if I would do it well enough to entertain, or whether they’d like me, but also if I could just get out the words in the right order. And what happened? If I didn’t have a script, poem that I wrote or the music in hand, I choked every time.

Now that I have years of classroom experience behind me as well as parenting my extraordinary progeny, I know that all of us in every moment are flying by the seat of our pants. If we can catch a good draft and ride it, wow, what a ride! If we worry whether others will like us or will recognize if we’re doing a good job or not, or steal the credit, or whatever, we only vex ourselves.

That must be why bungee jumping is so popular. For those who can’t trust themselves to fly by the seat of their pants in their day to day, they can feel free taking a ‘safe’ death dive.

As for me? If it’s a beautiful day, you may find me tap-dancing down my street, because I’ve spent too much of my life worrying over what I can't control. I’m going to enjoy the rest of it – smell the flowers, hug my kids, stare in my husband’s beautiful brown eyes, and laugh riotously. Damn the internal torpedos.

11 comments:

  1. So much time is wasted fretting over the details about what you want your life to be because we are all sold a bill of goods from day one that we are in the driver's seat.

    We think we are in control of everything and when we inevitably find we can't control the horse pulling our cart, we beat ourselves up.

    We need to create a new mythology that we are only in control of how we react or respond to life. We are not god (whatever that may be) and we do not hold the power over the turning of the earth nor the 6 billion people upon it. So why do we think we can make our life exactly how we want it? The exact shade of peach that is not too rosy.

    People hold themselves up to impossible standards and feel like crap when they cannot live up to them. How about we stop it?

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  2. exactly. i think i finally got it.

    when i was in new orleans, i met up with an old boston friend, and she has A LOT going on in her life. her fiance's (lifetime partner really) house burned down recently and he was laid off in the same week, among other things, but she's always had a great attitude. she says, 'if it isn't fun, why do it?"

    you wouldn't believe how unaffected she is by the recent dramas/traumas in her life. she was never the healthiest person i knew, physically, a nearly 300lber. i've worried about her health in the past, but i'll tell you, she positively glows with healthy attitude. it's visible. she took the traumas as just a wake up call for change in her life.

    now that's rolling with the punches like nobody's business!

    if it ain't fun, i ain't doing it anymore.

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  3. great quote and a very apt metaphor (we're in the midst of getting quotes on repainting the house this week!) I've been re-reading "Taming Your Gremlin" this month, which makes many similar points. (Excellent book, BTW. I'm not much for "self-help," but this book is both wise and funny and practical.)

    have a fun day!!!

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  4. This week, I'm trying to remember this is true for my kids too. Not every minute needs to be about getting ready for the future or learning something; most of the time, they should just get to be.

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  5. excellent point, jacqui!

    i'm definitely not one of those moms who has her kids scheduled into too many activities. and i think the guys are glad of it, since they both love to draw and write, too.

    now there is that recent request for guitar lessons i should attend to...

    i'll check out that book, and have fun choosing colors! i think that's my favorite part. i have swatches of purple-lavendar stuck on my bedroom walls right now...

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  6. i'm so glad you started your own blog. :-)

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  7. I'm new to your blog through Kate at Mothers who Write -- looking forward to reading more!

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  8. thanks, elizabeth, and welcome!

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  9. I'm so glad you have your own blog, too! And it's true--sometimes a fart just happens, so we might as well laugh!

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