Recently I got to meet with a friend who is… how do you say? Life saver? Respite? Oasis? After telling her my heart, she said “Do you have anyone to talk to? Are you writing?” or something like this.
Yes, but it is raw, messy writing. Nothing I would put my name to. Raw like the scraped knee of a 9-year old after falling off a bike.
After meeting, listening and talking, I felt much better. More like a person again. Less like a kid with a throbbing, raw, bleeding knee. I knew I could trust her. Not to “fix”, not to tell me what to do, not to “look on the bright side” or point out how the mess was my own fault based on poor choices I had made…just sit in the mess and listen to me say “This is hard and it hurts,” and “I want to make it stop hurting,”
I could trust her not to tell me of someone else with a bigger mess, or tell me I am making a big deal out of nothing, or tell me that everyone deals with this at some point, which probably is true. She just listened and understood it hurt and gave me a hug and agreed it was hard. And there wasn’t much that could be done.
Then I felt like a person again. Less angry, less hurt. More grateful. More ready to go back to the mess.
The thing is, how is everything… depends. It depends on what you choose to use to define everything. On your way to work, 5 things might happen, 3 could be basically good. Something interesting on the radio, feeling well-rested, green lights whatever it might be. Two other things maybe happen that are crummy, slow traffic, spilled coffee, forgotten item at home, whatever it is. What things do you use to define your morning? Was it a lousy AM or was it okay or good? It’s the same with our day, our week, our month, our year. What things do we pick to define how things are going? The birth of a child, the illness of a parent, the waywardness of a sibling or child, personal health, job going good or not good, money problems or not… How things are, aren’t they largely a reflection of what we choose to focus on?
It matters. Because we will base everything almost on the perception of how things are going for us.
I don’t want to sound overly optimistic. The fact is that the kids will write on the couch with a sharpie and the dog may vomit on the rug, and the car may not start, and there might be a stressful conversation with someone, and there may be a friend bringing coffee to say “Hello,” and there may also be a check in the mail, and there might be a really good book that your are reading or some personal goals met in the same time period. But what we choose to mark the morning, or day, or whatever period of time, that makes a huge difference in how we see the world and our lives.
I am not saying “ignore the negative”, I am reminding myself “See the good stuff louder than you see that hard stuff” Because the truth of the matter is that amazing things are happening, a 5-year old proudly reciting counting to 100 to teenagers who affirm her, the dentist makes you laugh so hard that you smile for the rest of the day, and someone unexpected write some nice things to you that takes you by surprise… those good things are really, really important. Even if they are just a pleasant tasting cup of coffee among bickering children.
Same thing with people. People are also big mixes, much like life. I am a big mix. Do we look for the good stuff? The stuff to like? Or do we see that even though they are kind, they have an annoying laugh or they possess some other feature that rubs us the wrong way on a certain day. Because our back hurts or we have a migraine.
It is human. We are limited as humans, me too. But, among the things we can choose are what we focus on and define people and life by. It matters because it effects how we act, how we treat people, how we make decisions.
It might come down to well, I might not currently trust that person much, but they still can make me laugh. And they are helpful, and they are trying. And sometimes really, really big things, like commitments and relationships and how we see the world and ourselves can ride on small things. Many, many small things.
Let the good stuff speak louder than the bad stuff. (easier said than done)
p.s. this may not apply as much to abusive situations, addiction situations or adultery situations.