Thursday, April 16, 2015

Well....THAT was awkward.

You would think after three solid years of living in the heart of Seattle, that I would be numb to gray, rainy, dreary days. However, this is just not so. Today I woke up to gray, rainy, dreary Ohio and started wishing I was in warm, sunshiny Guadalajara before I even got out of bed.
I looked at my weather App. Stared at the little cloud icon and watched it float out of my iPhone screen and settle above my head. I sighed. I tried to go back to sleep. I tried to avoid the gray and the rainy and the dreary. But my body was just not having it.

So. I slothed out of bed in my leggings and super old t-shirt and made my way to the couch.

Parenthood binge. Clearly the only plausible solution for facing this sort of day.

Today had no real shape to it. You know, those days that are just supposed to take shape as you go but instead they just sort of end up a big felt like it was going to be one of those days. I was on call for work with a pending meeting and lunch date with family and other assorted odds and ends to get done by day's end. Should fit a workout in there....gosh. I should like days like that so much more than I do. I wish I did. I think I did at one point...days without plans and without shape should be like candy for an adventurer like me...

Anyways. I am sure this is all sounding familiar. As I am writing I feel so many of the same things I was feeling a few weeks back when I wrote a post about surviving rough weeks...
Hang in there. I think my point is different this time.

I ended up not having to go into work and so I paused my Parenthood binge long enough to nail down my up-in-the-air plans. Still longing to hit that fast forward button and magically be in sunny Mexico, I put on my handmade shirt and sweater from the central Guadalajara market and stepped outside into the chilly, dreary day.
I don't know why I stopped, but I did. I stood under the ledge of our little ranch house and stared back into the clearing waiting for Lincoln to do his business. And this thought came to mind...

"Today is April 16, 2015. Today might be dull and dreary and gray and rainy, but you only get one chance to live this day."

I held it there...decided I should start making myself say that every single day. I mean with the updated date of course...
I tried to pay more attention after that. I even noticed one of those super cool rainbow puddles in the Target parking lot.. the little spots where the oil and water mix and the light hits it in just the right way that it looks like a puddle of melted rainbow. I used to love those when I was a kid! I haven't seen one for years. They have been there of course, but they only happen for the most part on dreary days...on days when I am doing my best to be anywhere but present and my mind is either lagging behind or running up ahead.

Here's the thing. This is all too familiar because I have been here before...essentially. Here is a place of transition. A place I find myself often. A place I love and hate all at the same time. I love it because it means an interlude where I get to anticipate a brand new adventure. I hate it because places of transition are always awkward. But places of transition are also filled with rainbow puddles just waiting to be seen and embraced. Transition comes with a beauty all its own that we often miss because we only find meaning in what's behind or in what lies ahead. 

I found myself trying to verbalize it in the car. To myself. Well, to Jesus but also just to myself. Because that's how strange and awkward today has been. I mean, I wake up every day here with the most random lists of things to accomplish...things like...

-Call for oil change
-Find a doctor for typhoid shots/pills
-Meeting for Mary Kay party
-Change sheets
-Check flights to Guadalajara
-Work out
-Clean out one drawer


Point being. Places and seasons of transition are so random and so scattered and so extremely awkward. Schedules are awkward, timing is awkward, relationships are awkward, I am awkward. I feel it all the time every day almost.

This unsettled feeling. This intense desire to either go back or move forward. Because "back" is comfortable and settled and I know myself there and because "forward" at least has some semblance of a shape. But here. Not so much. I guess it has something to do with the fact that I feel like my lists and my days spent here are getting me nowhere. My lists seem so scattered and so silly and so pointless and so endless.

But. If I were to go back, I would be that much further from forward. And I can't go forward without the steps through here. Transition counts. Transition is necessary. Transition should not be wasted away in our hearts and minds. Might we remember that there would be no back or forward without something in between to define them. 

Recently I have been reading through journals from the year I moved to Seattle. It's funny how so many of those writings are almost identical to my most recent entries. This may be a new place of transition to a new adventure, but the feelings and struggles are the same. It's so comforting to go back and read those little blurbs and remind myself that life happens in circles. After that awkward in between place came Seattle...a city that became home. And I left with new family and new experiences and a new version of myself. And so I know, the circle will complete itself again, but only if I travel the entire circumference.  (Look at me using math words and stuff...) And this is that little segment that I have to be willing to retrace. Again and again and again. Because it is necessary and essential to getting back around to my favorite parts of life's circle.

What I don't really want to admit, is that places of transition offer us a rare and precious gift. They offer us -almost force us- to live in the present. To be exactly where we are and to look right at whatever is in front of us.

This is the most challenging and the most rewarding part of transition. Going back is not an option despite how much I might dwell on what's happened and where I've been. Even if I were to somehow find a way to go back or move back or return to something in my past, I am more than aware that it would still be a new thing in its own right because it can't actually be relived the same way again. And going forward requires a waiting period. Despite how much I want to rush ahead and just get on with it, I have to wait it out and I have to simply let time pass.

So, the only option I am left with is to be right here. Right here, right now. It's an awkward tension sometimes, but one that I am learning to be grateful for. It's a lesson that must inevitably be learned at some point in life. Sometimes it is learned through serious illness or in the wake of tragedy. Other times it is learned through transition and change...either way, it must be realized. I suppose technically speaking I could live life refusing to embrace my present and continually taking myself backwards or forwards, but I am certain life like that would be so much less fulfilling than it has the great potential to be!

So yes. There have been days this year when I regret leaving Seattle. I miss my amazing job that I enjoyed and I miss the pay and I miss those amazing kiddos that brought me so much joy. I miss church planting. I miss living in a city that I adored. I miss my own place and I miss good coffee on every corner. Sometimes I want to just pick up and move back. And then there are also days like today when all I want to do is sprint on up ahead and get to the good stuff and start packing my bags and soaking up the sunshine and buying things for my Mexican apartment.

April 16th has happened before. 25 times in my lifetime to be exact, and April 16th will happen again and again and again throughout the remainder of my life. But the beauty of this life that we have been given is that each day can literally only be lived once. I guess we forget that so easily because amongst the routine and monotony they all start to blur together and feel so similar. But then is that just the way life is, or is it our perspective and our failing to recognize each day for its own individuality?

I can't say for sure, but I have this gut feeling that it's the second.

I can say this much. I am guilty of that whole blurring days thing. If I am not going on some big crazy adventure or I don't have some super fun, action-packed plans, I sort of just discredit and discount the day. In other words, I waste days like today. I just use them as a passage of time to get onto more exciting and monumental days or to reminisce about great days behind me.

It's time for yet another perspective shift. (Transitional places are great for those.) It's time for me to start embracing these places and seasons of transition... because I am going to find myself in them often. I have to make a conscious decision to stop wasting away these seemingly dull, dreary days and a very intentional effort to instead embrace them for exactly what they all of their awkward glory. I have to start each day with this deep rooted belief that it is special simply because it will never happen again. Ever. The sun will rise and set, and a new day will come, but it won't ever be this day again. I can't ever learn from another day exactly what I can learn form this one or feel exactly how I feel here and now. I can't ever repeat the exact combination and chain of events and sounds and sights and smells and tastes and conversations that this day might bring!

I am done wasting days. I am done wishing them away to the past or the future. I am going to live them all and live them all as fully as I can. I am going to do my very best to be present in each day and embrace each one for the precious, individual, fleeting gift that it is.

Even the days that seem meaningless in the moment. Even the most painfully awkward days...

This quote has stuck with me all week long:

"Be thankful for quiet days, when nothing special seems to be happening. Instead of being bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek My face. You are richly blessed when you walk trustingly with Me through the routines of your day." 
-Jesus Calling

In the words of a wise doctor whom I greatly admire,

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." 
-Dr. Seuss

"Give yourself fully to the adventure of today. Do not give into fear or worry, those robbers of abundant living."

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