I just needed a few weightless moments, high up in my parents' house, tucked into the garden tub next to the window. I could see the tops of trees and the soft snow floating by like a distant relative of the white fluff I'd piled high up the sides of the bath. I laid there with my eyes closed, soaking the heaviness out of my limbs. I have begun physically manifesting the stress of life over the last month or two, and a bathtub is one of those things I thought I could easily go without until it was absent from my day-to-day. I mourned the loss of this little luxury, then tried to be grateful for these moments I had in it.
My stress is not without merit, but I dwell on it to the point of ridiculousness. I wallow in it until it seems immense and impossible, like I'm battling in the toughest war ever encountered. I actually thought that, relaxing in the whirlpool of my parents' mountain home. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, the weariness somewhat drained as I had hoped, it was replaced by an overwhelming sadness for my current state--a nasty, selfish worldview. I'm a spoiled brat.
So in penance I toiled over the struggles of others around the world. I thought through 2015 and how, from the comfort of my own home, surrounded by my family, I've heard tell of hunger and murder and displacement and discord. I tried to imagine a woman, perhaps just my age, maybe with two children of her own, but on the other side of the world. Where I worry about comforts, she may worry about necessities. Where I struggle through a living, she is actually trying to stay alive. I obsess over the insignificant details of silly interactions, and her relationships are what she clings to for survival.
I pulled the plug on the tub and lay back to let gravity take its toll, crushing upon on my bones, sinking me down, down, down. The weight of humanness.
"Touch it," I hear. "Feel it."
As much as I know being human is temporary, this past year I have come to understand the big importance of it. We all bear humanity's heaviness; and we all receive the privilege of participating in it. Me and my friend across the world.
It's the end of the year, so I've thought about the process of our new year's resolutions, how we make lists to "better" ourselves, things generally related to weight and bad habits and somehow elevating ourselves nearer the impossible standards we allow culture to dictate. The other woman, she will want to better herself too; but she will do so without a juicer or a workout plan or new beauty products to aid her vanity. How easily distracted we are. What I focus on covering up, she will expose and correct.
. I have felt the grace soften and reopen my heart in a far more real way than I could have anticipated. For grace to continue its work, I must be willing to change my perspective. I must be pliable enough to be redirected and refashioned, especially where it is hardest or scariest. I thought I might forgo the resolutions process again, and instead I will try to ask myself questions, bringing to light and becoming vulnerable with what I think I can fix on my own, but really can't. Since I learned this year anyway, life has little to do with living rightly or wrongly, and a lot more to do with the way in which we move through it. That's really the humanness part--not how we achieve living across some moral spectrum or according to tools of measurement, but the fact that we simply do it, in the face of its weight.
Maybe, in being human, my international friend is not so different than me. Maybe we all want the same things, and some of us--like me--have a misconstrued vision of how to get there. There aren't steps, there aren't formulas, there aren't really even ways of being. Humanity is fluid, and it's all important, all beautiful, all good. The choice really is not in how we touch life but in how we let it touch us, by daily casting off the standards that tell us to do and measure, and instead asking the questions that help us to feel life to its fullest:
- Am I saying yes and being brave?
- Am I leaning on my own understanding?
- Am I exercising perseverance?
- Am I exuding grace?
- Am I a steward of others and what I've been given myself?
- Am I aware of the moment?
- Am I being unashamedly, boldly myself?
- Am I pursuing my dreams?
- Am I acting in love?
I am grateful for the grace I found in 2015. I hope I was able to give it. Here's to a brave, big, and full 2016. Happy New Year!