Mother Nature Knows Best: Learning to Unplug

IMG_0848I wrote this back in January when we had a crazy ice storm that knocked out the power for four long, cold days. I took the time to describe that experience, but for some reason, never posted it. My guess is, the power came back on and just like that, the crazy pace of my life was back. Ironic really, considering what’s happened since this day. But we’ll leave that for another post. While it seems a little strange to talk about an ice storm just as summer has arrived, the underlying message is as pertinent as ever. So dust off your imagination, turn up the air conditioner (if you have it) and pretend it’s the dead of winter. C’mon…work with me here!

January 22, 2012

The last few months have been crazy…insane, really. Working 10, 12 hours or more a day to still feel behind is depressing at best. Being without power for the last four days has not been easy. But it has its upside. There were a number of things I did that I might not otherwise have made the time for given the choice. I did realize how completely dependent we’ve become on our electronics. And how we seem utterly unable to entertain ourselves without them. I know the panic I felt when I couldn’t work…knowing I was expected to. I almost couldn’t enjoy that first day because it felt so stressful. But looking back it feels like the best thing that could’ve happened.

I spent Thursday afternoon just hanging out with Kyle. We played Mouse Trap, which he did not enjoy. We threw the Nerf football around the house. Well, really he mostly threw it at me when I wasn’t looking then laughed at me when I didn’t catch it. That seemed to be entertaining for him at least. I found a mini Frisbee I didn’t know I had and we played with that for a while. We made dinner on the BBQ so we could have something warm to eat. We watched a movie on the remaining battery power of the laptop. Then camped out in the living room in front of the fire.  While it was frustrating trying to entertain a 14 year old with no electricity, all in all, it was some of the nicest time we’ve had together in a while. I couldn’t work and he couldn’t play video games. We had to interact.

Friday we found out my mom had power at her office so we packed up and spent the day there. Kyle got to play his video game and I got some work done. But we were in the same room together at least…and we were warm! I got to visit some with my mom and my uncle, who also happened to be at her office that day. I don’t remember the last time I saw my uncle. And other than the holiday, I haven’t spent that much time with my mom in a long time. I’m ashamed to admit we’re both so busy with work, we don’t make the time for much else.

Saturday Kyle went to his dad’s and I spent more time with my mom as we worked and visited in her office. That night there was more camping out in the living room with Mitch and Celeste. Hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps made by boiling water on the BBQ. S’mores in the fireplace. All things I could do any time, but don’t. Not having power forced me out of my normal routine into something slower, more deliberate, more thoughtful.

As I sit here watching the battery on my laptop slowly die, it occurs to me I’m not sure I want the power back. I mean, of course I miss being warm in my own home and not worrying about keeping the food cold in the fridge. I have become very attached to my modern life. But I am also loving the slowness. The quietness. The stillness. When you can’t do much, it forces you to rethink things. To question what you’re doing and why. And I’ll admit I haven’t done much of that in the last year. I’ve been going so hard and fast, I hadn’t realize I’d lost the ability to slow down and enjoy it. It just hit me that for the first time in a long time, I don’t feel anxious, worried, in a hurry. And even though I’m sitting in front of my fireplace all bundled up, it feels nice. I can think again, enjoy things, breath.

So thank you Mother Nature! For forcing me to do what I wouldn’t do myself. And for reminding me of my true nature. Do I want my heat back? Of course I do. But am I dreading that fast paced life I’m used to living? I am. While I wish I could say I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll never go back to that harried life again, I know that’s not really true. But I hope I can hold onto the feeling the last few days has given me. And remember that the beauty of life is not in the busyness, the running, the doing. It’s in those still, small moments when time seems to stand still. When I can’t do anything else except notice how wonderful it is to just be.

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There Might Always Be Days Like This

You’ve heard the phrase before, “time heals all wounds.” I think it’s been said so long and so often by so many we don’t even question it. But is it really true? Does time really heal everything? Or is that just what people tell you when they’re uncomfortable with your pain?

I think what bothers me most about what this statement implies is that there will supposedly come a day when you will never feel that pain again. You’re healed! Hallelujah! And if after said magical period of time you haven’t ‘gotten over it’, well, there must be something wrong with you. But I just don’t think it works that way. No matter how much time has passed or how much work I’ve done, it seems there are still days when the pain comes flooding back. I’ll be doing my thing, minding my own business, and suddenly something sparks a memory. A good memory. And, like an unexpected storm on a sunny afternoon, I find myself in a torrential downpour of emotions.

Often the pain is accompanied by a chorus of thoughts such as, “what’s wrong with you?” And “you should be over this by now.” And for a split second I am tempted to swallow the tears and push on through my day. But I know resisting the pain won’t make it go away. Resisting only tightens its grip. Actually, the opposite is true. It’s when I give in to the sadness, the grief, the sorrow–when I lean into the pain–that it is able to move through me.

If you’re reading this and are concerned I’m wallowing, I’m not. I believe there’s a reason for everything. Even when we can’t see it or understand it. Even when it hurts us. And most days now I can see that dark cloud’s silver lining. Can I recognize the positive things that have happened since that day? Of course! Am I grateful for the many amazing people who’ve come into my life as a result of this new path? Absolutely! Does the pain still bring me to my knees from time to time? It does.

So does time really heal all? I guess it depends on how you define ‘healed’. It is my belief you will never be the same again. That experience will always be a part of the person you are. There are just some things in life that leave you forever changed. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never be happy again. I’ve discovered pain and happiness can coexist. Each weaving in and out of your life creating the tapestry of you. I don’t believe you get over anything…I believe you go through it, and feel it, and talk about it, and little by little you start to feel joy again. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. In its own time. Really.