Sunday, July 24, 2011

Overcoming Adversity

As we were leaving the area where we were camped this morning I happened to spot this tree next to the road. Clearly, this poor tree has experienced some significant adversity at some point in the past. Whether the trauma was a one time major storm that about knocked it flat, or a series of problems that caused it to tip over I can't really say. But what impressed me about the tree was its determination to grow upright, despite its troubled past.

I feel like I am a lot like this tree. My early days were stormy ones. The specifics are not important. Suffice it to say that both from the choices I made and the choices others made I got pretty well knocked flat in more ways than one. Every kid has their heart aches. Some come dressed up as serious problems, some not so much. Mine were a mixed bag that knocked me for a loop. As a consequence my teen aged years were a firestorm of self-loathing and rebellion. That led to some turbulent twists and tumult during my twenties, with a few sweet islands of light that began to wake me up to the possibility of a better way, but having no skills or frame of reference to really build on. My thirties were a tense and turbulent time as I tried to make my peace with old nightmares and sort out what mattered. Only in my forties did I begin to get comfortable in my own skin. Even then, there were more than a few hiccoughs along the way.

But now I'm in my fifties and I can honestly say I have never felt more at peace. That doesn't mean my life is entirely without problems. But how I approach my problems when they come now is radically shifted from the old days of drama and angst. These days when difficulties arise I face it with a completely different sort of awareness that EVERYTHING - both the bad and the good, the comfortable and the excruciating, will work together somehow in a way that will ultimately teach me and bless my life if I can be open to that.

Example - recently I've been having some pain in my back and neck. It has been hurting a lot, so I went to a chiropractor to get my spine adjusted. While I was there I mentioned to the receptionist that my husband and I were planning on going to the Ketchum / Galena area for the weekend. She then told me about Red Fish Lake which she claimed was the most beautiful place she had ever seen in her whole life.
I looked at a map and saw it wasn't that far out of the way from where we were going to be anyway, so we decided we would go check it out.

Had my back not been messed up we would have missed this amazing, soul shaking part of this weekend journey. Seriously, it was that special. It is an absolutely amazing place and I feel much richer for having experienced it. Am I GLAD my back was hurt? NO. Will I go running to embrace other painful things because they might bring me similar blessings? Absolutely not. Face it, pain sucks. I don't want to hurt - physically or emotionally. But what I DO know for sure is that whether I run from it or embrace it, from time to time painful things WILL happen in my life. And one of the ways I get through those dark days, whether they be a kink in my vertebrae, the death of someone I hold dear, financial reverses or the dog barfing on a new rug....from big challenges to small ones I honestly believe that EVERY experience in this life has the capacity to teach and bless me if I let it.

There was a time not so many years ago when I struggled mightily with some issues that I thought were bigger than my capacity to endure. I honestly believed at one point that I would carry the grief, sadness and heartache of it to my grave.

But I was wrong.

I mended. Today I am happy. Today I truly do know peace. Granted, I may be a bit crooked in spots, sort of like this tree. But I'm standing tall. And I can honestly say that I would not know the level of joy and delight and sheer gratitude that I have now if I had not walked through the dark.

I am so relieved to have come to a spot in my life where I don't have to take everything so stinking seriously. I have perspective. I have an ability to let go of things that I can't control. I have an ability to truly cherish simple pleasures like the flowers in my garden or a sunset or the sound of a child's laugh.
And I'm choosing to focus on that. I'm choosing to stand up straight in my present instead of continuing to worry over getting knocked flat in the past. If this tree can do it, why not me?


Kim and Victoria said...

I love this,"I am so relieved to have come to a spot in my life where I don't have to take everything so stinking seriously." Great sentence. Maybe it also has to do with our age, because I feel the same way. Good stuff will happen, and shit will happen, but either way, we'll get through it.
Great post.

Anonymous said...

Looks like I have some blog catching up to do. Good post!

Alice said...

Your words are like a balm to our souls, my friend. Speak on....

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