I opened my email this morning to find an update from Seth Godin’s blog entitled It’s a Long Story with this very short story as the entire message:
Isn’t it always?
Actually, the long stories are the good ones. About how you found that great job, or discovered this amazing partner or managed to get that innovation approved.
If long stories are so great, how come we spend all our lives working for the short ones? The very act of seeking out the shortcut and the quick win might very well be the reason you don’t have enough successful long stories to share.
…and it got me to thinking. The past couple of days (okay, weeks), I’ve wondered when I was going to be able to write a blog post again, wondered if my blood sugars were normal, wondered about a new lump I found on Dinah Dog’s leg, wondered if I was ever going to lose any more weight, wondered when I’d be leaving Oregon for parts unknown, wondered if I could afford that little fifteen dollar tea kettle, wondered if I was going to be able to walk that tenth of a mile to the next cache location, wondered if my old, worn-out jeans were going to rip in an embarrassing place, wondered if I could eat some of that yummy cheese without it totally ripping out my guts, wondered if my cousin’s double mastectomy was very painful, wondered if the sun was going to ever come out again, wondered if my car would make it another five thousand miles, wondered if the trailer roof was going to leak when it started raining, wondered, wondered, wondered…
As you can see, I’ve spent a great deal of time wondering lately. I wonder if that’s because I’m resting and relaxing, getting ready for some big adventure somewhere, getting my ducks all lined up in their row, not using my brain for much of anything except all this wondering. Well, call it what you want, I began to wonder if I’m just lazy. When my days are passing in activities that don’t normally call for a burst of energy or a blast of busy-ness, I find myself calling it “lazy.” My previous “normal” self would charge around like a chicken with its head cut off, running to and fro, doing this and doing that, and not getting much down-time in the process because I was always do-do-doing. I got a lot of “stuff” done because there always seemed to be something to do. Vacations for me were always flurries of activities, go-go-going more and more, faster and faster – sit by the pool relaxing? What’s that? And isn’t it boring? Take a quiet dinner cruise on the river? What? No trap shooting off the stern of the boat? Boring…
But this past few years, spent without a permanent home or address, without a J-O-B, without a regular support system around me, has been a time of great change in my life – changes that included getting used to not having a home or address or job, getting used to the faces of my “support group” constantly changing, getting used to fending for myself again after years of being able to buy myself the “fixes” I needed – getting the car repaired when parts broke instead of just driving it with broken parts; getting the dog bathed by a groomer instead of doing it myself; buying new jeans instead of patching them up with iron-on tape. I used to do this stuff when I was younger but once I began working at a “stable” job (one that really wasn’t so stable as it included lay-offs and hostile work environments but who was counting?), I started using my purchasing power to take care of the majority of things I had done for myself during the financially leaner years. And then I spent my free time traveling, doing things I’d always wanted to do, learning new things, experiencing new adventures. I thought at the time that I loved it, and at the time, I did. In fact, I still love traveling, seeing new places, eating new food, meeting new friends, but part of the great change over this past few years has been the major changes to my physical and financial ability to do these things. The definition of “adventure” in my life has undergone a huge overhaul – it no longer just means those wild, crazy things I used to do to get the next adrenaline rush, the next “oh my god!”, the next “what the hell was that?!” It now has a broader, more generic definition; it really just means “my life” and all that’s within the birth and death bookends. It’s my Adventure with a capital “A.” It was the call of a new adventure that lead me to quit my job one day in 2009, just days after my dad died, and walking into what turned out to be the biggest, most amazing and mind-numbing adventure of my life. It’s turned into five years of exploration, looking for answers, delving deep into the darkness that engulfed me and threatened to overtake me, searching for hope and redemption.
And have I found it? That place where compassion for oneself lives? I’m not sure. What I have found is a patience I didn’t know I had, a hope that tomorrow will be better than today, a look into the utter blackness that surrounded me, a place of peace and a knowing that all is well, all will be well, all has always been well, a connection to a heart that belongs to all of us, all the time. It’s a place where being quiet is a “good” thing, a place where colors are vivid and brilliant, a place where creativity lives, a place where love is eternal. It’s a place I could stay forever.
So back to the long story… whenever I thought about writing a new blog post, it became such a long story that I couldn’t even get started on it. I didn’t know where to start, where to end. In the midst of the long story, the story that started before I was born to this planet and will end after I leave it, I found myself trying to make the long story into a short story, one that had a first line and a last line and a few very short paragraphs in between, and in doing so, none of the story got written. I finally realized this morning, after reading Mr. Godin’s blog post, that I’m here to write the story, short or long, and it starts with a word or two that turns into a line or two. And if a paragraph shows up, so be it.