Thursday, June 19, 2014

Because I Can Be Introspective Occasionally

There's this great episode from Season 8 of Grey's Anatomy called "If/Then".  Meredith, in her opening voice-over, ponders what would happen if just a thing or two had gone differently in her life, if she had made different choices somewhere along the way.  The episode goes on to show all of our favorite characters in this alternate dimension, where Mere didn't turn out dark and twisty.  But here's the thing, as you watch, the story unfolds eventually leading all the characters back to the people and choices they had made all along in the real world.  In the closing moments, Mere's right there at Joe's with McDreamy downing tequila shots.  Even though everything was different, nothing was really different.

And I know that you are staring at the computer going, "So you don't write for months and the first thing you come back with is a Grey's Anatomy recap from two years ago?  Seriously?"  (heh, heh...seriously?)  But stay with me.  Who among us hasn't wondered if life would be different if the events of our lives played out in some other way?  What if I'd attended that other college?  Chosen a different career?  What if I had said "yes" instead of "no"?  Would my life have somehow turned out measurably better than the one I'm living?

I've know I've certainly traveled a mile or two down those roads.  It's usually when I find myself angry or stressed out about something from my current life.  C'mon, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Something goes wrong at work and you find yourself mentally counting off the list of other careers you could have had and how you wouldn't have any problems in any of those.  Your friend says something that hurts your feelings, and you start making a list of all the people you should start hanging out with instead of this inconsiderate wretch.  Your mind wonders and because our minds are so good at imagining any manner of things, you picture a world where all the world's a stage and you're the star.  (I can only speak for the extroverts here.  Introverts, I'm assuming yours is more like all the world's a stage and you get to be left alone in the prop room or something.)  You have a brilliant career in which you are universally admired and revered.  You have the picture perfect family, like something right off the Hallmark card.  You go on glamorous vacations, have wonderful friends.  Your life is shiny and bright and not even remotely inside the realm of possibility.

I don't say this to be a Debbie Downer.  I'm not trying to say that you can't have nice things and enjoy them with nice people.  I'm not even saying that you can't dream up something and pursue it.  You can, and maybe you should.  But even if you make those other choices, your life won't be perfect.  Because here's the news flash:  Life is never perfect.  I have a friend who hates the saying, "It is what it is."  But I really think it's true here.  Your life is your life is your life and you can always change the sails, but that doesn't mean your new direction will never be stormy.  It also doesn't mean you won't end up right back where you were supposed be all along.

I chose a simple life for myself.  I live in the same community I was raised in around the same people I've known all my life.  I teach in the very same school district I attended, for goodness sake. (I've chosen to be in middle school indefinitely. Crazy, right?)    My life isn't fancy, but it's mine. (At least whatever parts I'm not still paying for.)  I spend 90% of my time feeling like I don't have any clue how to do pretty much anything, and yet somehow, I've carved out a life.  Sure, there were other paths, and sometimes it's fun to imagine them, but that's all it ever really is.  I just feel like, even if I'd taken one of those other paths, I still would somehow end up here. And here's good.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In Good Times

I have spent the last few months directing the school musical.  It was crazy and it was hard and it was wonderful.  We had our shows this weekend and I'm so proud of how well things went.  I came home last night with my flowers from the cast and my heart full of compliments from the community and it was glorious. And then, it kind of wasn't.

I've lived on my own for nearly ten years.  Most days, coming home to my quiet little house is a haven from the rest of the world.  I like knowing that, unless my sister has stopped by, things will stay where I put them  (even though my organizational systems are often lacking).  I love not having to consult someone when I want to do something spur-of-the-moment.  I love coming home, putting on my pajamas, and watching Netflix until bed if I so choose.  But sometimes, when something wonderful is happening in my life, and I'm full to brim with happy, I wish that I had someone to come home to, someone to celebrate that feeling with. Being single is rarely something that even crosses my mind anymore, especially when things are as busy as they have been.  But last night, I wished that I had someone to share my good times with more than I had in a long time.

It's funny to me that happy times are when this comes up the most.  I can deal with sad.  I can even deal with most of the everyday things, even taking out the trash, as much as I whine about it.  But last night, I wanted my man (however fictional he may be) to be there to watch the show, to take me out for a late dinner, to read aloud all of the sweet Facebook comments to.  Not having that put a sad tint to all of my happy.  And I really wish that wasn't the case.  I wish I was self-assured enough to just go to bed alone knowing I'd done well.  But apparently, I'm not.  I went Eeyore all over Twitter, instead.  (Much like I'm doing in this post.  Sorry, peeps.)

Maybe it's all just the emotional let-down of a stressful week.  Maybe it's just me going back to the "Will I be alone forever?" well that I thought I'd long abandoned.  I don't know.  Lonely and happy will always be better than lonely as sad, but couldn't I just feel one thing at a time?  I know that's not how it works, but it would be awfully handy.

Anyway, I'm still here.  And I have read every sweet message you left on the last post.  Thanks for being awesome.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In Ordinary Time

Growing up Catholic, there were many of the rites and rituals that I loved--when the old manger scene was put up at Christmas, the songs we sang on Easter Sunday.  There's something magical about celebrating traditions older than ourselves, about upholding the rituals dating back generation upon generation.  As an adult, I still am fond of those things, but what speaks to my heart most now are the Sundays in Ordinary Time.

Ordinary Time is, simply put,  the Sundays when there aren't feasts or special circumstances to be celebrated, when we celebrate all of who Christ is rather than one or a series of specific acts.  It is ordinary not because it is plain or common, but because that time is counted and put in order (think ordinal numbers).  Though our hearts often cry out for the Child in the manger or the Resurrection of Easter, we live so much of our lives in that ordinary time, the time between.

I think that when we are growing up, we believe that our adult lives are going to be a highlight reel of awesomeness.  We think of all the incredible things we are going to do and say and be, and we gloss over many of the realities of everyday life.  No one grows up thinking how great they are going to be at paying their bills on time every month or how they will dominate a trip to the grocery store.  We dream of our incredible careers which we will always love with passion and intensity, and not how some days you might just want to run screaming from the premises.  We imagine ourselves rock stars of all personal relationships--having warm heart-to-hearts with friends over weekly dinners and giving our significant others and kids all the time and love they deserve.  We don't dream of the grind, of the everyday, of the ordinary.

But of truth of the matter is that even if it feels like nothing extraordinary is happening, every day counts.  There is a great power in the ordinary.  It may not feel like the life we imagined, but it's not until we fully address each day as it is that we can harness its untapped potential.  The Easters and the Christmases, the celebrations of life's milestones, may be the highs that keep us going, but its the average and the mundane that test what we are really made of.  

I realize that we are no longer in Ordinary Time on the Liturgical Calendar.  It's Lent now and historically, I have not been great at observing any real Lenten practices.  (I don't even try to give up chocolate anymore, because not even Jesus wants me, or the people around me, to suffer like that.)  But this year, I'm making an effort to really look each day fully in the face to see what opportunities it might have for me, even if those opportunities look a lot more like work.  I feel like I spend so much of my time just surviving that I forget that my days are numbered, and that there is, most certainly, a finite supply.  I want to find the joy in what appears, at first glance, to be run-of-the-mill.  I am choosing to believe it is there.  And I'm going to mine it for everything it's worth.

Blogger's note:  I know it's been forever since I posted anything.  I don't know if this is the beginning of new blogging streak or what, but I felt compelled to share.  It's likely that I will continue to post, but less often than I once did.  I'm not sure.  But I am forever grateful for the people I have met through this corner of the universe, and I still keep up with your blogs.  I'm also madly in love with Twitter, so you can always find me there @msmiller111.