Saturday, June 23, 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Lesson Learned


I have been doing so well. Friends and family who have watched my ankles grabbed by the twin sea serpents of depression and anxiety as I swim ask, "How are you doing?" In the beginning my answers were tentative. Sticking a toe in to test the temperature of the water at the precise moment I was asked, I was often relieved to find it comfortable and could answer honestly, "I'm okay." As time went by, I became bolder, expecting to find the water like a bathtub. Over the last two months, I thought I'd learned to gauge without even testing. My immediate answer was that I was doing great. I was surprised by it myself. Dad's sick, Grandpa is dying, my husband has still not resolved his health issues...but I am okay. Had I found some magical balance? Was I able to splay my limbs out, face up to the sky, floating in the water unconcerned with the creatures below and above, knowing that they would do what they would regardless of me?


Summer is a time of strengthening. Flowers and plants that have begun to grow in the Spring spend the summer becoming - setting fruit, reaching for the sky, opening up to their full potential. I feel that push. Magazines offer 'bathing suit bodies', Target displays are full of bronzing products. Resolutions to learn Spanish and drop 20 pounds, finish my book and organize my house form a scrolling billboard playing in my mind's eye. I am committed to becoming better. Better wife. Better mother. Better friend. Better woman.


Cramming every minute full of potential, writing, cooking, cleaning, taking the girls swimming, visiting with friends and family I have neglected lately. I don't stop to realize I'm packing Pandora's Box. This morning Pandora came. Scratches at the lid as I lay in bed, 'I don't want to get up today.' Shhh, it's Saturday - nothing to do that I don't really want to do. Quiet, my dear. An orange flash at the bottom of the computer signals a dear friend wanting to Instant Message me. I summon my husband instead - I can't take the time for this right now. Instead, I retreat to my writing space. Pandora knocks at the lid, 'Let me out. There is no space to breathe in here.' Reluctantly I leave this comfortable room and follow her.




The lid opens. Stomach cramps, sweating, anxiety frizzles around in my brain, bouncing off my skull like lightning looking for a place to escape. I search for some linear explanation: too many cherries from yesterday's Farmer's Market, wine with dinner too many nights in a row... I know, though, that Pandora is manifested in my gut because I've not taken a cue from Mother Nature. Summer may be a time of strengthening, but what I'm doing is not that. The pea vines don't strive to become dahlias. They don't criticize their flowers because they're not showy enough, their mission is to take what they're given and use it to become the very best peas they can. Another lesson learned. Beauty is not in the do-ing so much as it is in the be-ing.

10 comments:

Eileen said...

I love how you wrote this and it is so true. Saying, "I'm good." can only get you so far for awhile, with all the stresses going on in your life right now. It takes it toll on you, and all the rushing to do this, that, be the perfect mom, wife, loose the weight, etc. sounds so familar. I love the lesson, it is not in the do-ing, as in the be-ing, please remember that everyday! Live in the present, see the perfection of each exerience then you are never hurried or delayed, you are always in the right place at the right time and all is well. Create your own security by trusting the process and flow of your life. Slow down, take care of yourself and get that to do list, that runs throughout your brain over and over our of your brain. I know easier said...I struggle with this all the time, but we can do it!!! Love you lots!!!

Kim said...

This I know for sure: if you are looking for beauty, it lives right here, in this post, in this magnificent writing, in this busy, hungry, loving heart. In this woman. In you!

And absolutely, in the be-ing. Brava for this post.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Pretend everything you are living/dealing with is happening to your best friend. What advice would you give her? Now TAKE that advice because it's good ass advice! Get a match and burn every To Do list around. So cathartic!

Scott from Oregon said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ9DCRl6hbA

You reminded me of this--

Deb said...

Such heartbreakingly powerful writing. Oriah, in her book, The Call, talks about this very thing. You can't be a better you - you're already perfect just as you are. And you've expressed it perfectly - pea vines trying to become dahlias.

Love your courage. Love your writing. Love you.

Sue said...

I love Carrie's advice -- we all need to do the same!

"...my ankles grabbed by the twin sea serpents of depression and anxiety as I swim..." ... what an precise image of how you feel ... how I feel ...

Pandora's box ... we all have ours ... interesting that when Pandora opened the box for the last time, hope escaped from the box, and as horrible as life can be, as dreadful as whatever is in our own Pandora's box, she gave us hope.

Oh, how I love your writing!!!

grammer said...

Wonderful way to get there, Kari. No metamorphosis required. :) Perfect just the way you are; sometimes depressed, sometimes anxious, sometimes on the ball and sometimes elsewhere. Love Carrie's advice; take it if you can! xoxo tg

Jerri said...

Those things you want to do better? You already do each and every one very, very well.

Thanks for writing this. All day I've been trying to coax dahlia blooms from my pea-vine self. My tomorrow will be so much better for having read your words.

Miss Devylish said...

Um.. love this one too.. You have really jumped to a new level sugar.. and I totally missed it. I'm so sorry. This is beautiful... really. xoxo

holly said...

beautiful writing! let me be the next to say - listen to carrie, great advice.

Love the description of sticking one toe in feel for your answer "I'm OK" just in the present moment.

Love the flowers and the peas.

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