I stumbled on this poster the other day, and it triggered something in me. A little, niggling voice in the back of my head that reminded me of how I’ve been wrestling with this concept in the past three years, especially since my father’s passing. But I suppressed the voice as I tend to do and moved on.
I went in search of the poster, intending to write down the words and make a “Wordle” of it for my students. When I located it, I admit to being more than a little startled to find that it had been originally posted on the very day my father died.
Here’s why that was startling for me:
It’s kind of funny, but for many members of my family (and I’m talking not just my husband and kids, but also my six sisters and their families, and my mother), the death of our father (“Pa”) seemed to be the demarcation point of a series of unfortunate circumstances (family illnesses, some severe and long-lasting, some involving our children or grandchildren, shocks, stresses, and accidents) that seemed to have kind of piled on as time passed.
Of course Pa’s death doesn’t actually have any connection to any of the other events or challenges. People lose parents – especially an older parent – all the time. But it was kind of noticeable that in conversation it would come up, “You know, since Pa died…” followed by the various incidences or at the very least, a sense of displacement. A sense of things being shifted out of balance that is very subtle but still has impact over time.
That Pa was really the emotional and physical center of our family and a strong, much-loved, vital presence for my mother, all seven of us daughters and our own families made his death very difficult, of course, but he had been ill for the six months prior to his death, and so we were also relieved for him when his suffering ended.
Still, it was a struggle to pull out of the sense of shock of losing him in our family. I tried to turn as much of my thoughts and energies as I could to the positive, even through the challenges that seemed to arise out of nowhere (I was even able to finally finish Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, after having struggled with writing it for two and a half years prior, thanks to some of the lessons and experiences I had during his illness and death. Ultimately, a full five years after beginning, I wrote “The End” this past May).
Anyway, as the issues cropped up one by one, they tested my emotional mettle, but I soldiered on.
I’ve been mostly successful with it. As a child, I couldn’t bear the least amount of change (I even begged my parents to save the old linoleum they ripped up after they refinished the kitchen floor when I was five), but I’ve become an adult who is becoming comfortable with the realization that control is an illusion; I know and accept that the best I can do is choose how I will react to the circumstances I face, positive or negative. Pa tried to teach me that all my life. I learned the lesson slowly while he was alive (probably because he was always there as the emotional “safety net” for all of us) – then in big, heaping leaps once he died.
My life has settled down and been very good again in many respects. But I wonder, sometimes, if I still spend too much of my energy “watering the weeds”. I keep working and slaving over what I “have” to, all the time, and letting myself get bogged down in responsibilities and feeling trapped by them.
Thoughts are energy.
I tell my own children this all the time. And the whole convoluted story in this posting is just to say that, seeing this poster has made me realize that maybe I need to do a better job of remembering that statement myself.
I’ve been getting better at it, but I have a ways to go and some polishing to do in terms of the thought patterns I allow myself…and that allow positive or negative into my life here and now.
And those are my philosophical thoughts for the day (maybe even the week).
Happy Wednesday! May it be a positive one for you.