I’d barely recovered from the previous weekend’s festivities, which, while absolutely festive, were on the taxing side for a squirrely introvert like yours truly, when I got slammed by several waves of unexpected drama. I’m okay, but exhausted. And really, that’s all the record warrants right now. As I’ve said before, while it may seem like I share e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g here, I’m really very selective in what I choose to share. Because online weblogular stuff can veer very quickly into oversharing. And that is a kind of drama which, as we all know too well by now, exists forever.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about trials, though: as vexing as they can be, there is always, always a creamy nougat center of opportunity nestled somewhere inside. Sometimes it takes a while to figure it out; other times, like this one, you get lucky, and find it right away.
For me, the gifts were several. First, I was bowled over by the support that poured forth from friends, both real-life and Internet varieties. (Those of you who emailed me personally, and you know who you are, thank you again. It meant the world to me.) I’m not sure that I deserve such great people around me, but I’ll take ’em, and I promise to do my best at getting worthy-er.
Second, there was the reminder that even in the depths of sadness, there is grace and lightness and even fart-joke levels of joy. When you can sit with a friend who is mourning the passing of her 17-years-long feline companion (who saw her through some shit, boy howdy) and not only get each other through it, but get each other laughing? That’s love.
Third, there is always, always art. The restorative power of art is amazing, and by “art,” I mean making stuff: writing, baking, sewing, painting, building birdhouses. Whatever. Making stuff is such a tonic, as is time spent in collaboration with other people making stuff. My classes at w o r d s p a c e, my new writers’ group, even Success Team, my mastermind-esque group, where we all support each other’s efforts at making some crazy art of some kind while we try to keep our heads from exploding, even that helps. It all helps. We help each other, and huzzah for that.
Finally, truth, like medicine, can come in unpleasant packages. One of the things that really stuck in my craw recently was an accusation of my selfishness. And it stuck precisely because it’s true. Never mind that my wiring warrants some of it, or that the the ways I was often indulged growing up fed it. It’s true. And no matter how much room one needs, nor how crucial it is to get down with it, it’s also important to reach out. And it’s been…a while. A long while. An embarrassingly long while, if I think back to when I consistently gave back anything other than money.
So I did something I’ve been intending to do for months now, since I discussed the idea with my first-shrink-slash-astrologer: I volunteered at a local animal shelter. Nothing big: just some dog walking, for now. But it gets those dogs some exercise outside of their daily trip to the yard, and it gets me some badly-needed doggy action. A search on MetaFilter turned up this outstanding no-kill shelter in the West Valley. I visited this weekend and really liked the vibe and the policies. (I’m a big one for policies.) They’re grateful for whatever volunteer help they can get, and let people jump right in. It’s a perfect low-pressure way for me to re-engage with giving. And then I went and bought some goddamn party shoes so I won’t look like a putz when I stand up at my sister’s wedding.
Life gets hard at times, and frequently, from out of nowhere. Yes, I have drawn an easy hand, as far as that goes; I know it, and in my lucid moments (which are still many), I recall it quickly, if not instantaneously. One of the gifts of age-plus-awakeness is some sense of proportion.
But pain is pain, and when you’re hit with it, it can be really hard to instantly be grateful you’re not in any one of a thousand, million spots much tighter than the one you find yourself in. If your impulse is to rage and lash out, all I can say is try to do it to walls and inanimate objects. People bruise, even if you can’t see them doing it, and venom unleashed makes no one feel much better for long.
If, on the other hand, your impulse is to turn inward, something those of us a particular end of the co-dependent spectrum seem to take to like ducks to water, try to gently, and just for a little, if you can, turn outward. And I do mean a little. I was doing a lot of holding doors open and letting people cut in front of me in traffic before I even hauled my sorry ass out to Puppyville.
One step at a time. Because there is love on the other side, but the only way to it is through it…
Photo is of Cosmo, the Wonder Dog, who is delightful and sweet and would very much like you to come adopt him into a good home or hey, just take him for a walk!
- Here’s Cosmo, the Wonder Dog’s profile. Woof! (UPDATE 7/14/10: Cosmo has been placed! But there are still plenty of other great L.A. doggies available.)
- Here’s Pet Adoption Fund, the largest no-kill shelter in Southern California. They’re doing the Lord’s work, and have loads of great dogs and cats who would love to come home with you.