(Not because you don't have volumes...But because you can't pick which emotional moment to choose)
To those who follow me here...
Today was one such day...
I revisit my evening post, having rested from a whirlwind of emotions that accompanied this day. Oddly, I made the decision to take up farming as a heart following. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to live a simpler, more meaningful life; I think that drive is universal in each of us, though may I just say, moving one's body to a farm does not guarantee this will happen, nor is a farm required to attain such a state of being. That, as we all know, is an inside job.
But to my way of thinking, farm life might, at the very least, be a starting point at simplification. I decided (for me at least) if I could limit my intake of outer worldly stimuli (namely politics, news and business, which was my steady diet for 20 years), then perhaps I could focus more specifically on things I could actually do something about, which would (this was my logic) leave me more peaceful…feeling more productive…more satisfied with how I’d invested my time and energy.
For example, I can’t solve homelessness, but I can help move some guys off the streets and into churches every so often. I can’t solve world hunger, but it might behoove me to know how to grow things myself should I ever be called on to share someday.
With this as my mindset, I removed myself from the bulk of the daily grind in hopes of finding myself again, and placed as my backdrop for this little exercise (otherwise known as my life) --a garden. Please know I don’t believe that everyone necessarily shares a longing to garden. But I DO believe we all share an inner desire to cultivate things in our lives for which a garden is great metaphor. You want to grow something for your life (be it a business, a relationship, a child) you prepare your soil –make sure you’ve blocked off the proper space and time for your vision, then you select the specific seeds that will net you that result. Next you plant those seeds and you water those seeds. You remove everything that is NOT that plant in a process called “weeding”. You weed out what you don’t want and focus on what you do, and low and behold, as night follows day, you do this long enough your desired crop springs forth. Don’t ask me how it happens. Something miraculous goes on in that dirt. (You can only do your part.) You don’t go digging up your seed to make sure it’s doing something down there. You do what you know to do and you wait on God for the rest.
In life, as in gardens, there are sunny days and there are rainy days, and you learn early on that to wish for all sun and no rain is not the way it works. Nope. It takes both to make a garden grow. Not only will rainy days happen, you need them to, so don’t resist them. I know most of us prefer sunny days. Folks in California live out there (amidst earthquake threats and raging wildfires) why? Because they like it sunny, and who doesn’t? But in real life, a little rain must fall and it will fall and what’s more, you need it to for without it, nothing grows.
For the longest I believed it my emotional goal and duty to be happy at all times, and...well, I don’t believe that anymore. Sure, who doesn’t want to be happy? I’m not begging for tears. But there are times when happy is not the proper emotion. Say…when my father died. We shared stories at his funeral of happy times, so there were breaks in our tears for laughter. But who expects to go to a funeral and be happy throughout? It simply would not make sense.
So for all we do to maintain “happy” …for all the things we buy, the thrills we seek, the pills we take, I have now learned to stop in these tearful moments and ask “Why am I sad, and what can I learn from it?" and also "What’s so wrong with sad?” after which I give myself permission to just flow with it. (After all, emotions are like house guests. They come to tell us something, and then they leave eventually. Granted some guests we like better than others, but I digress.)
I liken emotions to the colors on an artist’s palate. Walk through the Louvre and study the greats and you don’t see only happy colors. How simplistic would art be if everyone chose only the reds, yellows and bright blues, and left out the darker hues that give life and depth to the Rembrandts, the Picassos…the da Vincis.
My mother reminds me of a time as a child (I think I was 3) when I colored only in black. (It was my black period.) Coloring book after coloring book she’d open to find nothing but black all over the pages…no effort to color within the lines, no shades of gray....just black. Hard scribbled black. She’d bought me a brand new box of Crayola 64s. (Remember the bright yellow box with the sharpener built in?) Sixty four different colors to choose from and for some reason I’d go straight for the black crayon and go to town…filling up page after page in what I’m sure had her thinking she had birthed Linda Blair. (I suppose it would startle anyone to see this. I do remember doing it and I also remember why.)
She called a psychologist asking his professional opinion, and asking if he might meet with me to get to the heart of what torment must be happening inside my little child head, to which he sagely replied: Why don’t you ask her?
Sitting me down to ask “Karlen, why only the black crayon? Is there something troubling you? Something you want to tell me?” I replied, “I’m trying to get rid of it. I don’t like black, but I hate to waste it, so I’m trying to use it up…wear it down…get it gone. I only want pretty colors in my box.”
Don’t ask me where this notion originated. Again, I was all of 3 at the time. But I find traces of that tendency creeping back into my thought processes today when I start to feel guilty for having had a sad moment here and there. But then I step back and remind myself that black crayons, mixed with the bright colors give depth to those colors. It is in the contrast we find meaning. Running from life’s darker moments is not the answer. Embracing and incorporating those moments is where real depth starts to happen.
As for this day, nothing was so dark in and of itself, save for the way I felt when the day ended, which was to say “exhausted” (and I certainly have no monopoly on exhaustion…I think the whole world is exhausted). But between thinking it would be hilarious to write about TJ’s first sexual encounter (which was more fearful than funny at the time) then racing to check on a mother in the hospital, then racing to help homeless guys find shelter for the night, all while nearly running over poor Thurman on his tractor as I left my country lane, racing to get a deposit in the bank before it closed, well, my end of day reflection was “I went too fast; I feel too tired; I think I botched it, rather than feeling I’d lived this one fully, so my “living to the point of tears” was more literal than I had bargained for.
But the good news is: today I get to try all over again. A brand new canvas awaits and all 64 Crayola colors to choose from. I think for this one, however, I’ll leave the black one alone and start my day on a cheerier hue.