The other night I was lying in what I call my “fire seat.”
It probably doesn’t sound comfortable, but it involves using the side of one couch to support my head, the ottoman to support my back, and having my feet flung over the loveseat that is kitty corner to the couch. I’m positioned, lovingly, as close to the pellet stove as possible without getting too hot. The other night, I could see the reflection of the Christmas tree against the window above the fire, and the room was darkening – with the littlest bit of light left in the sky revealing the tops of the tall pine trees.
I took a phone picture:
Scarlet had asked Cassidy to put on a Grateful Dead DVD and she was dancing to it while we had a laser light show from a machine he borrowed from a coworker. Des was dipping pretzels into a container of hummus. No napkins, no bowls, no forks or spoons. Much joyous mess. And then there was me. I was thinking about that feeling of waiting for your life to begin.
Pretty conveniently, the song from the movie Tangled – “When Will My Life Begin” came on sometime before, during or after this pellet stove/window reflections moment. It played somewhere in the mix of when I formulated the idea for this blog post, to when I wrote the notes for it, and probably all in between. The symbols and themes are often there for me to grab them.
Did you ever watch a whole movie, waiting for it to really “begin”? Suddenly, the end credits are rolling and then you realize – that it was an entire movie – problem, climax, resolution – and now it’s already over. Maybe you missed that it was happening all along because it was a bad movie. Or maybe the message was subtle. Maybe..it was just different from what you expected.
One or two hours was not enough time for you to wrap your head around it. Sometimes life is like that too. Sometimes one or two years isn’t enough time to wrap your head around it. The other night against the fire, I realized something. It’s here. This bit of magic I only ever dared to dream about. The difference is that back when I dreamed about homes, husbands and kids (and jobs) I never bothered to fill in the blanks. The way Des sings the ABC’s, which is nearly to cute to handle, much less write about. Then there are Scarlet’s fierce hugs, and everything else I didn’t factor in. The good and the bad. The empty spaces.
The dark holes in this mass of living. The bright spots, as well.
My life began a long time ago. Realizing and appreciating it often takes work. Back then I was dreaming about the future and not filling in the spaces with the light and the darkness. The flesh and the details of a life well-lived, but struggling as well. Everyone struggles. I never factored in worrying about the ailing health of family members, and how it would actually feel to see my grandmother turn 100. Real. Not dreamy. Amazing and astonishing, but so painful too. Achy, worrisome, awesome..
I never knew how tightly I gripped the dream that she’d someday meet her great-grandkids. I have exhaled many times over.
How can I be here, waiting for my life to begin, while simultaneously being amazed that it HAS begun, and it just doesn’t feel anything like what I thought it would feel like. Fantasies can feel sterile and numb. Dreamy and hazy. My real life? Nothing like that. Painful, sick. Sharp and present. How I can be here, and so many people I love are there. How that can mostly be ok.
My youthful dreams seem so silly, and yet here I am sometimes stunned that people haven’t yet invented airplanes that go at the speed of light, or beaming devices. I never dreamed about stress or fear or doubt. Did I think I’d be a goddess millionaire with no anxiety or hardships, with family members who would live forever, and I’d live deep in the moose-filled mountains of New England or on the beaches of California with an always-adoring and never-bratty family? Why, yes. Yes I did. Sue me.
Do you ever think in terms of “someday”? Someday this will all go away. Someday I won’t have to fight this. Someday, everything will be easy. In truth, there are battles we have to fight our whole lives. Money. Aging. Weight-loss. Anxiety.
I do believe that we get stronger and our fights are perhaps easier, or maybe fought less often.
We can get better at getting up again.
We can also get worse again, or worse than ever. That’s the worst news I was welcomed with into my adulthood. When I dreamed about the future, as all young people do, I never factored in the bad. I never filled in the empty spaces with any kind of darkness. Realistically, I knew that I would struggle as anyone does, but who wants to think about that? The good news is that I didn’t fill in the greatest parts either. I couldn’t. I couldn’t dream them up. Life is not as smooth as I once imagined..
..but it is perhaps bigger and more colorful, and more worth fighting for, than I may ever wrap my head around.
I call this below photo “air quotes” – for obvious reasons:
I mean, if you could wear a Rapunzel dress to a jumping pillow on a farm, why wouldn’t you? Why aren’t you doing this??
If you could fly, why wouldn’t you? Why don’t I have one of these in my yard yet??
And a whole lot of this.
Scarlet is fighting for her right to party.
And there’s probably a life lesson in that. Fight for your right..to have happiness. — by Scarlet Bella Bowman