When One Door Closes…
In a few days, we will cross an invisible threshold between this year and next. A door will open to 2014, and shut tight on this tumultuous year. However, all the troubles and all the joys we have will cross over with us. The construct of linear time, will draw a line at the edge of a chasm, causing each one of us to take a leap of faith, and go sailing (or flailing) into the new. But wherever we go, we take all that is us, with us.
It has been a year of extremes. Great highs and horrible lows. Losses piled up, mocking me and my eternally raw (but still open) heart. Victories that bloomed and multiplied. Anger and sadness. Grief and pain. Long sought achievements and terrible mistakes.
Through it all — through the highs and lows — I’ve remained conscious of the fact that gratitude is the key to everything, and the door to my joy and my life is within me.
The Gift of Being Present
Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. ~ John Barrymore
What did you learn this year? What did the days of 2013 offer up and teach you?
I learned the value of asking for help. I learned to receive, which is not my forte (independent woman, and all). I learned to let others step up and take care of me, because for the first time in a long time, I could not take care of myself. After I fell and broke my nose and fractured my face last month, I had no choice but to ask for help. Others stood in for me. Others cooked and answered the phone and washed the dishes and gave me plates of soft scrambled eggs. Others slept in my hospital room, held my hand in pre-op, carried my purse, paid my way, unloaded my groceries, and fed my pets. While I slept, my friend, Juli, graded papers in my home office. She knew I couldn’t be alone right after surgery, so despite having her own life to attend to, she slept on my couch and stayed with me in my pain-addled, scraped up state.
I get by with a little help from my friends
I am so unbelievably grateful for all the help. I am humbled by it. I am thankful for the dozen or so other people who took out the trash, went to the pharmacy, bought half and half, and brought me soup and casserole and jell-o. They gifted me with their tender kindness and their love. And I healed more quickly because of it. I know I did.
I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present. ~ Rabindranath Tagore
Recognize and celebrate what’s good in your life. Acknowledge the wreckage, too. Life is always a mixed bag. Without exception, everything that happens to us comes bearing gifts. If we are able to look at our experience through the lens of gratitude.
Yes, there are times when the darkness we are wading through feels like it will swallow us, or our pain is so acute, that we can’t see the edge of our agony. Perhaps we’ve been left by the only person we’ve ever loved, or our mother’s just received a devastating terminal diagnosis. Maybe our best friend committed suicide or we’ve lost our job, and what little was left of our dignity.
Although all of these things might make us want to collapse in a heap on the floor and cry well into the foreseeable future, we must cut a door in that wall of darkness, and step out under the stars. We must ask for help.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. Everyone needs help. We all need each other. Desperately.
The world is a mess because we’ve bought into the idea that we don’t need each other. That we are rugged individualists and we can take care of everything ourselves. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We live in a web of inter-connectivity. Nothing in our lives would work without the gifts, ideas, and inspiration of other people. Our society prides itself on an extreme form of independence; however, the fact of the matter is, if we don’t begin to deeply understand the value of connection and community, we will be SOL.
All life is connected to all other life. At the most basic, cellular level we possess mirror neurons that allow us to learn through mimicry and feel empathy for others. We need others and they need us. It is pathological to think otherwise. There is not a fortress with walls high enough to protect us, if we ‘go it alone.’ We need our friends, families, colleagues and collaborators, and we always will.
As we finish the last days of this year and ready ourselves for the new, I encourage you to think about the ways that you can contribute to the world and the people you love. Think about asking for help when you need it, and offering it freely when others ask. No one should be hungry or without help. No veteran should be sleeping outside after serving our country. No child should grow up without affection or the notion that anything is possible if they work hard.
We are on the threshold of a new year. We are standing at the precipice of a time when collaboration will replace competition as the order of the day.
We are built for love and kindness and tenderness.
This combative, competitive, survival of the fittest world is a construct that we’ve been indoctrinated to believe in. An illusion. A delusion.
It has to go.
© 2013 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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