(27) doing life

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Baby Antonia

 

She’s here! That sweet little child gave her mama a bit of a hard time, but she slipped happily into our world the evening of November 1st, brand-new and miraculous. It’s amazing what a difference one life makes. How one person changes the roles that so many others play, making sisters aunties and brothers uncles, making a mama and daddy out of a husband and wife, making other mamas and daddys into grandparents. Everything changes, one birth makes waves into all of our lives.

Oddly enough, after some of the long-distance excitement had died down and the little one had celebrated her one-day anniversary of birth, I found my own return to “normal” somewhat disillusioning. For one day, I had lived in suspended action, body present here, heart invested there, a thousand miles away (or so). And now, the return to routine, to my own life, seemed dull.

Last night I cried to my husband, “what am I going to do with my life?”

I actually struggle with this question often. I also usually ask it in a version of future tense. He and I both noticed this as we talked last night.

The question of what am I going to do with my life is already in the process of being answered. I am doing, I have already done, all of the bits and fragments, the scenes and acts that I have participated in and lived through, these are all the life that I am doing. Is this really so hard? Or do I make it much more difficult for myself expecting something big to come along? I’ve heard something about life being made up of small moments. Silly me, I still expect and hope for that big something, to become famous, to really make a big difference. Even sillier still, I equate my sister’s having welcomed life into the world as something big, but haven’t I heard many, many mothers attest to the “dailyness” of motherhood? No matter how big and fantastic and heroic it may look from the outside, I imagine it feels quite different from within.

And then, of course, my husband called me out on the sin of comparison…again. Learn from others, admire others, pray for others, encourage others, but live the life that you are in, live in your own body, be thankful, be content, be yourself, simply be. And then out of that you-ness, do the stuff that you’re called to today. Even if it’s just the grocery shopping, or the practice of being kind and accepting another, or the practice of praying, or making a gift for Christmas, or eating lunch. How many times have I heard this or reminded myself of this? Maybe as I practice I will learn to let go of my own expectations for myself, to look at life from a more gracious perspective, to “be and let be” as someone once said. For some reason, it’s harder than it sounds! I have not lived up to my own expectations so far in life and I naturally tend to assume that I have failed. When perhaps the appearance of failure is just pointing to the insufficiency of the expectations themselves. I remember a poem from Rainer Maria Rilke that captures the difficulty and beauty of living now:

Be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

 

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