Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rising to the Occasion

This is a story about a girl who just wanted to move to her new-old house, but she couldn't because her floors weren't ready. Thanks to high humidity, the wood wouldn't "cure," or somesuch, and the floors had to be completely refinished--but not until the humidity reached a certain level inside the house. The girl waited and waited. 

One day she went on a picnic. The moment she stepped out the door, storm clouds piled up over the hills. Undaunted, she walked around the farm, picking vines and wildflowers. The wind picked up, tugging at the girl's dress. Just what she needed: more rain, more humidity. Inside her chest, she felt broody as the sky. 
No, that's not true. She was something greater than broody. She was pissed off.  Tired of delays, excuses, and prevarication. Blogging had become well nigh impossible. All of the non-essential stuff was packed in boxes, and the boxes were stacked in the living room. Foolishly, the girl had packed camera equipment, tablecloths, even the twinkly orange lights she'd hoped to string up at the ranch house. Now, her autumn goodies couldn't be found. 
"Move anyway," said Pearl, her 87 year old mother. "To hell with curing! To hell with humidity. They're just floors, not a cure for cancer." 

 Ready or not, peeved or not, the rain was coming. The girl was reminded of a recurring dream in which she found solutions to the broken parts of her life, the kind of things that a new house wouldn't fix, but dreams are that way. Come morning, she couldn't remember doodly squat. Vital details swirled up and vanished. Damn, she almost had it. She was thisclose to an answer.
Another night, the girl had a Freudian dream about crossroads, and no matter what her gut said, she knew she had to pass through this junction. But she wanted to turn left. At the edge of the dream, a voice rose up: "You're going the wrong way!" 
Another ill-starred decision, just what the girl had feared. All night, she clenched her teeth, grinding them into powder, tossing and turning, dreading what could manifest by morning.

The next day, she wrote in her journal: What's really going on with those floors?

"There is no such thing as accident," Napoleon Bonaparte said. "It is fate misnamed."
(And look what happened to him.) 
Maybe the flooring issue was fated. After all, the girl's husband just had surgery on his foot, and he was looking down the barrel at a different, more intricate kind of procedure. The girl knew that fate had a way of understanding what we needed, ignoring our wants and showing us what mattered.

Friedrich Nietzsche said it best: "Love your fate, which is, in fact, your life."
This is the part in the story where the heroine either rises to the occasion or falls down.

The women in her family had a long history of "making do." Her mother, Pearl, had moved from New Orleans to a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills, and she made do. Her grandmother, Mimi, had left her childhood home in Mississippi and ended up on a snow-swept North  Dakota plain. These strong women wouldn't have chosen this path, not for the world, but here they were--and they were going to make the best of it. They bought books on birding and started keeping life-lists. They baked, sewed, planted tulip bulbs. 

Sometimes magic happened. 
Plants grew out of concrete and flourished.

If her mama could grow flowers in pavement, anything was possible.

That night, the girl dreamed about the mountains, a farmhouse where honey was sold, a white house next to a fast-moving river. It was a no-brainer dream, one that had itty bitty solutions: find a different perspective; seek comfort in in nature; move along with the flow of your days.

The girl finally understood. We must live the life that we have, not the one we pine for. The best parts happen here and now, and they are found in the smallest moments.
Foraging for a bouquet.
Pouring sunflower seeds into a bird feeder.
Licking chocolate icing from a bowl.
And standing in the rain.
"Grace moments can be found even when we wait. Especially when we wait."
--The Girl

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  1. .....and the house cried to her, knowing the girl had spent many moons making sure the house was all spiffed up, please don't feel bad little one, I want to envelop you in comfort, strength and beauty. I'm not ready yet. Please be tender- hearted and let me cure for you, so when the rains come and the winds blow I'll keep you safe, warm and content. My beauty will not be spoiled...I can be what you have spent so many days helping me become, comfortable. I don't want to disappoint you or be rendered an annoyance...please, little one just a brief moment longer and I can fill your heart with happiness and joy. My desire is to protect and serve you for as long as we are together. My doors and windows cry out for you, they desire your love. But please wait for me. I will bear great fruit for us and all that are welcomed into our parlor. I'll be ready in a moment, little one.....

  2. You have more patience that I have by a long shot and I am so blessed to have read this post today. I'm the kind of person that just wants everything done and get it behind you. Your words have calmed me and I really appreciate it on a day that I really, really needed it.

  3. Wow - your way with words. Putting all that emotion into a few photos of a picnic and the countryside. Verbalizing the meaning of life. Honestly, I am so moved by this. I have stood at many crossroads myself. Good luck with those darn floors and bloom where you are planted!

  4. Oh, Micheal Lee. I so feel your despair! I'm sorry things aren't moving along well and about your husband's surgery! You just said it though, you come from a long line of strong gals and you're gonna make it. Cure floors...cure! I laughed out loud when you said 'doodly squat'. I said that to a gal I've met the other day and she was so puzzled and didn't understand it at all! I had to explain it to her! ;) Can you believe it? Chin up, sweetie! Soon, hopefully soon you can move.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  5. I love the moral of the girl's story, Michael Lee!!! Living the life we have, right here and now, and not pining for our old life, or longing for the the future, is the Best Advice. Enjoy the present! Loving hugs sent to you!

  6. Marvelous post, Michael Lee! My eyes started to swell, about being strong women and making do with the life we are given. Although it isn't the life we dream of, it's a life we are grateful for, both and good and bad, it is our life!! For me, it's both my son and daughter, she moved away at 19, far away, but she loves the life she has now and loves where she is living, for me thinking she needs to be closer to home, but that wouldn't make her the strong woman she is now. Thank you so much for sharing, and as always your photos and your writing are very beautiful and filled with emotion! Sending some Arizona heat your way to help cure your floors! =)

  7. I agree. Choosing to thrive in the "real" as opposed to the "ideal" is one of the great secrets of a joy filled life. Why chase after the horizon?
    There are endless opportunities for growth, aren't there?

  8. loved that, i have always been emchanted with your words, coupled with pics, it was just a wonderful path you just shared with us... i just read ordinary grace, your wisdom could be tucked in those pages too ;-)

  9. You have a wonderful way with words...truly you have been given a gift. You are also being tested...patience, they say, is a gift! You have that gift! ;)

  10. I needed to read this today...thanks for posting!

  11. Well written. I am enjoying your blog.

  12. Beautiful post ~ like a delightful short story ~ that put a smile on my face.

  13. So sorry that you are having such delays. Hopefully, everything will work out soon and you will be moved in and loving your new home.
    Loved your story - very good.
    Have a wonderful rest of the week,

  14. I do so enjoy your writing! Great message today!

  15. Michael Lee, it's been a tedious year for you, no question. Fingers crossed that all goes well and you are in your home in no time. Living in limbo is not fun. '-) Think of you often and send hugs of encouragement!

  16. "...I'll be ready in a moment, little one......". Try to remember that I am your protector. A massive frame of protection and security and if you don't use your patience with me, I may crumble. Just like the little pig's did. Your seemingly "pissed offness" ( is that even a word???) may make you blow your stack too hard and I may crumble before I can become statuesque. Don't cry, little one. Don't be sad, little one. I will be so stoic and magnificent when you finally enter my gates that your fears and doubts will fade before the setting sun does.
    Cry a river little girl but only shed tears of happiness at what fortune is soon to be yours.....under my roof and eaves, made strong by time and hard work.......

  17. Love the Nietzsche quote. Hang in there!

  18. Such a good post, Michael, sometimes you do have to bloom where you are planted for a while. Railing against what cannot be changed is difficult, as I am finding out this week myself. Patience is not one of my virtues. We are in a fight to keep the beautiful forest land near our home from being clear cut by the gas company. Frustration is the name of the day for both of us, and I feel your pain. Hang in there, as I am trying to do.

  19. Beautiful, Michael Lee. There is an ancient yoga passage that has gotten me through rough times, "do not fear the obstacles in your path, the obstacles are your path...enjoy the journey" Easier said than done, but you're smart to focus on the simple small joys, they can really put life into more manageable parcels :)