|Photo Credit: Flickr Snow Fall by James Jordan|
When you are passing into a new part of your life, do you know? Sometimes, it's obvious because you are sent home from a hospital with a squalling infant that you never had before, or someone declares you "husband and wife." Other times, maybe you know only in retrospect.
The other night Mike and I were driving out for dinner, in falling snow, when suddenly there was no snow, and the road was wet with rain. Neither of us could remember at what point it had become rain. Life happens like that, I think. I also think that, just as there is a place where the road is snowy and a place where it is not, there is a moment when we begin to change. We just don't notice it at the time.
I have spent the first part of my thirties being driven as if by a horde of biting flies. Not necessarily in a bad way. This driven-ness has not produced any real money for my family, or worldly success, but it has caused me to bake Christmas gingerbread cookies from scratch year after year, assist my children in assembling craft creatures for Valentine's Day with hot glue, and drum up numerous behavioral systems for the management of AD/HD, defiance, and general laziness successfully. I have cooked. I have menu planned. I have re-organized. I have gone to work twenty minutes early almost every work day of my life. I have worked harder than I have to. I have done all this with a sense of purpose, and direction, as if, in some invisible way, I am going somewhere. Somewhere important.
And then I got sick.
There is something about ending up with chronic illness that makes one into a sort of unintentional Buddhist. At first, for a long time, I felt like there was there this maddening energy pulsing within me, and my body wouldn't cooperate. There were things to do and I couldn't do them. My thinking centered around how to make sure these things got done anyway, come Hell or high water. I was aggravated and angry.
Somehow, subtly, this has changed. I still think a lot about what has to be done. But somehow it occupies less importance to me, as if suddenly Life and Death do not hang in the balance of the completion of my laundry. I have started to let go of the idea that I will have everything that a healthy person has, that things will be the same as they were. Instead, my thinking centers around what choices I need to make given the reality of my condition, and what the consequences of each choice will be. I think with more patience and less agitation, although the choices are just as hard to make.
I could regret the muscle tone that I have lost, the friendships I have no energy to spend time on, the job I may not be able to keep. I dislike the pain and exhaustion. But I don't mind the change to my pacing and perspective. That part, I think, is good. And my cat is very grateful that, after all these years, suddenly I sit long enough to be a good lap person.
Somehow, driving snow melted into rain without my seeing and I became a subtly different person. I blinked and missed the moment when it happened.