I was reading an article in The Sun magazine (July 16 issue) the other morning, one of the rare Saturdays when I could choose to stay in bed to read. Actually, it was more like afternoon, but who’s keeping track? The piece was about a woman’s story of battling and ultimately defeating breast cancer. Beautiful. Poetic. Raw. Wonderful. It was all these things. One passage in particular pierced me tenderly as it related so much to what I guess I’d call midlife contemplations I have had often in my forties. And this is it:
“….I had a sudden insight, a momentary sense of unity with all that is – animal, vegetable, mineral. I imagined that we were all one life exploring its infinite possibilities. I was the strand that went to Syracuse University, loved dark chocolate, and cheated on my journalism typing text. Other strands went to Columbia and had a byline in The New York Times, or could lay eggs in the sand…..Each strand was an equally important part to the whole. For a while I felt free of regret. Still, I wished I could have had that Times byline” (45).
It’s with both a tear and a grin I end upon. How about you? But, all in all, I love the idea that we each are made up of all these small details. That my own love of dark chocolate or bubble baths are necessary components to completing the whole picture. And goodness knows, we can all be so hard on ourselves in our quest for perfection. It’s these little details that we often want to stamp out or that make us feel insecure. The furrowed brow detail. The talking too much when we’re nervous detail. The stomping our feet. Or burning the casserole detail. The endlessly bad at being in touch with loved ones detail.
Details. Maybe its these exact things that help contribute to the whole picture in just the perfect way. Perhaps what I offer or don’t offer is just the right amount for the equation.It is a nice thought at least. Something upon which to draw comfort and use to be less hard on ourselves. I know I can afford to be less hard. How about you?
And then, there’s the Times byline. We cannot forget it. After all, it’s written in black and white. It counts, and it’s there. That thing or twenty that gnaw at us, that itch under the skin, especially as the years keep passing. Those things unfulfilled. The ones still out of reach. Whether it’s a dream of becoming a tennis pro or owning your own diner. Whatever it is, there’s some missing detail making the puzzle less complete.
For me, in recent years, this piece doesn’t have to do with career or having more children; it has to do with fitness and body mechanics. I wrote not long ago about an article in Prevention magazine that inspired me to one day have a jungle gym in my backyard, even just for me. I want to me comfortable, when I walk, stand, sit, etc. At 43, I sometimes feel like an 80-year-old, with various aches and pains that don’t seem appropriate to have. In fact, I have been this way since at least my early thirties. Gah! How about you? If you can relate, then maybe this can become part of your goal, too. To figure out ways to move better, to release held patterns of tension in the body. (No pressure, of course.)
It all sounds luxurious, doesn’t it? Like who in the hell has time for that? I know. I am often in the same boat. But I am going to take more time to work on movement, to work on helping myself feel….at least good. Without the tight rubber band feeling I often have in my neck and shoulders.
Anyway, there’s that byline or that trophy that’s just out of reach – or not. The thing or twelve-hundred that we all want to achieve. Sure, we can stay perfect in our contribution to the whole. But we can also move into something else, a new way of being. And in turn, we contribute something else, something perhaps even more perfect.