If It's Going To Mean A Blessed Thing

 
A tall, pink rose tree in bloom climbs the wall of a tan-colored house spackled in white. Various grasses and some purple flowers grow around the base. Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash .

A tall, pink rose tree in bloom climbs the wall of a tan-colored house spackled in white. Various grasses and some purple flowers grow around the base. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

 

My neck strains as I seek to sit upright a little longer. I pinch the back of it in the middle where it cries the loudest. Just a bit more time. I want to finish writing something. A fog moves in and settles over my brain, reminding me that this is how we do pain. We conserve, we close down, we become the quietness to survive. I glance at the clock and find myself shocked that it’s almost time to meet the bus. These days it takes much longer to find that satisfying compromise between ambition and accomplishment, if I find it at all. I realize I need to change the stakes, but my brain never stops chanting “you’re running out of time!”

Fifty percent of my schedule is scheduling and rescheduling things, it seems. “This is adulthood and parenthood now” I tell myself. It is, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy adjustment or ever has been. It’s the kind of life I can’t do without grace and it’s the kind of life I can’t do without support. Trouble is, I spent a childhood and much of adulthood trying to be self-reliant, trying to make things better for people around me by not getting my own needs met, as though deprivation were a noble destiny, as though not having enough could fix anyone else’s not having enough. As though scarcity could be fought with scarcity. It was a painful way to be in the world, but I didn’t know better.

I don’t know how I expected to ever make it when all I saw in my body was a resource to exploit. I’m learning now. People are not rapidly renewable resources. We aren’t resources at all. We’re souls with needs in motion, and are all better off when we’re giving those needs attention. Sometimes that means taking a long breather. Sometimes it’s leaving Facebook for seven months and only appearing moderately for five months longer than that. Sometimes it’s paying for a yearly blog subscription but being too tired to write for half of that time. Sometimes it’s letting people think you’re never gonna make a comeback, and realizing it’s you who actually thinks that and it’s okay if it’s true but it probably isn’t. Time may not heal all wounds, but it definitely lends perspective, so it’s a gift worth giving to each other, for as long as it takes.

I’m drifting now, but not adrift. I asked the river to slow down for me to which she replied, “stop fighting the current, sweet child.” I know this is counter-intuitive. I know we’re supposed to leap into the “arena” and gladiator our way to a better life and a bigger platform and that ever-elusive book deal, and an all-caps kind of justice, but maybe crushing vulnerable bodies, even our own, isn’t what the world needs from those of us chronically trying to survive while putting out “fires” and weeping in the shower at our failures to thrive. Maybe it’s time to bury blame in the ground and let it rot until it feeds our next endeavor- the one we make when we have found the nourishment and depth necessary for our roots to lengthen once again.

Life makes less sense as the years go by. Once upon a time, there was a girl who thought the opposite. Who thought growing up was the same thing as deliverance. Who imagined a thousand narratives of a peaceful existence brought about by a change in circumstance without including a change in person and perception. The purpose is clear now, and it’s brimming with hope like a messenger of mercy. She’s probably going to lose sight of it a few more times. Forty is as young as it is old and old as it is young. It’s not about the aging, it’s about the growing. She hopes you’ll all be patient with her.

This year is about to finish its circle, and whether sad, wise, tired, radiant, regretful, smart, or brave, it’s all got to resolve and renew in persistent love or as I’ve learned by now, it isn’t going to mean a blessed thing.

Jamie Bagley