by A.M. HomesIt's hard to know what came first, my desire to not worry or an overload of the worry systems---so much to worry about that I couldn't possibly do it all. Maybe it was a brush with death -or watching others die-and the birth of my child. I'm pretty sure it was right in there between death and birth...losing a parent I'd never known, a beloved grandmother, and a best friend...and watching the planes hit the World Trade Center from my window. After all that and my daughter's birth, following two miscarriages and years of fertility treatments, I like to think I've gained a certain perspective.
Maybe it was also the fractured disk I suffered seven months into my pregnancy, the two months I spent in a wheelchair and my accidental opportunity to experience the world and its flaws as a handicapped person...and then the back surgery four days after the baby was born, which left me wondering if I would walk again. I learned a lot -or more like I gave up a lot. Any ideas I had that one has control over one's life, surroundings, destiny all went out the window. And with that came freedom--I no longer care how great my hair looks or whether I have the right clothes for a party [Well, OK, I still care-but less than I used to]. Frankly, as a single working mom with a two-year old, I find just showing up a minor miracle.
Importantly, though, it wasn't as if this perspective just "happened". It was a decision I made to step back, to learn to wait, to pause before reacting. I meditate, I breathe, I remember to wait--if not necessarily to think--before acting: to feel and to note what I am feeling and to tell myself that it is just a feeling or a thought and that not everything needs to be acted on. I have taught myself to be mindful of small moments. And when I'm having a bad day, when I can't get a real person on the phone, when it feels as though all of life has been outsourced, I take inventory--beginning with the acknowledgment that I am in fact very lucky, I have a happy child, I am walking --and today, at least, no one I know has died. On good and bad days alike, I am also aware of what I can do for others--extending out of my own life and into someone else's, not just taking care of myself and my own but embracing the larger world. Maybe I knew that already--but it doesn't hurt to be reminded.
repost from Elle Magazine's "The Most Important Thing I've Learned"