Here, at the kitchen table, frozen and white-knuckled with fear that I have nothing of potent interest within this medicated brain to write about, my mind blank and the clichés sitting at the tip of my tongue, I sit. And then, while listening to my husband’s rendition of Niagara Falls in a toilet as he pees with the door open and watching my teenage son incessantly pick his nose while watching endless episodes of The Simpsons, it hits me.
This Is My Life. In all its Glory.
Please, hold your jealousy at the door, folks. This isn’t for everyone. Or for the faint of heart.
42 years I have graced this planet with my presence (OK, sometimes I haven’t been totally present and if I’m being honest, grace is not a word to describe me–ever). I have made more than ‘a few’ mistakes, and quite possibly could have been arrested for some. I have had some crazy adventures, some harrowing, life-altering moments, and lived through more than a few horrendous experiences that I hope my children will never have to. I have dug myself out of many holes, and frequently found myself falling right back into them — or better yet, newer, bigger, sometimes muddier holes. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? Other times, I have found the sun smiling down on me and the laughter of good friends and dirty jokes, along with really great vodka, placating my soul and I find another day to live for.
Self-help books and therapy sessions tend to tell us we need to be ‘grateful’ and ‘patient’, even ‘kind’. Forgiveness, empathy, self-love, blah, blah, blah….these are the buzz words of the new generation and we all heed them like they are going to save us from….well, God only knows what? The Devil? Death? Hell? Trump? Like organic kale salads and beet juice smoothies, we swallow up the notion that we can save our souls (and sometimes our marriages) with the healing powers of intuition and inner kindness and whatever else we need to do to find our true happiness. Well duh. Can’t we just buy that at Anthropologie and be done with it? Is there an Essential Oil for that? I’m pretty sure I saw something on Amazon.com!
When I stare at my husband laughing at some ridiculous cartoon and watch my son bob his head to a new hip-hop song I may or may not like, and I receive a Facebook message from my daughter in her third year of University, showing me her tenth-favourite meal she has eaten in Maastricht, I realize life isn’t about attaining some sort of mystical inner happiness or creating a perfect, non-GMO, gluten-free, Paleo LIFE….it’s about laundry that may or may not be folded today, and the dog shedding everywhere he shouldn’t, and the kids asking if they can have a hotdog before dinner, and finding random shrimp tails under the table (because no one dropped that!), and then sinking into the couch in hopes of finding the time and energy to possibly watch one of at least 100 shows that are PVR’d, because….well….LIFE is happening and TV doesn’t always get watched.
The past year has been a tough one. I won’t deny it. Physical illness, broken bones, ruined relationships, unfathomable losses and grief that tugs at my soul everyday; sometimes it has been hard to get up every morning. To want to get up. It has been easy to hide under the covers and recede into the never-ending pages of Pinterest, and I find myself trying to figure out ‘why’. Why shit happens to us. Why life sometimes, quite simply, sucks. I find myself comparing my life to others’ (and lets face it, Facebook is a giant high school rendition of comparison and self-loathing) and I have to slap myself silly to break out of that pit of depressing ‘reality’. After all, I made it to my 40’s. And that, in itself, is giant gold star for this girl!
So my lesson for today: Let go of life expectations. And just live.
Because no one else is going to fold that damn laundry tomorrow! Although, thankfully, the dog will eat the shrimp tail on the floor. Small victories, people. Small victories.