The other day I was reflecting upon the day as I drove home from work. As I rounded the corner into my cul-de-sac, I recalled that during ‘check-in’ at our staff meeting, I had reported that for all intents and purposes I was doing “really good”. I remembered acknowledging that I felt like I was in a period of grace given all the challenges that had been landing in my life over the past few years. As I parked in my drive-way, some of the unfavorable realities I had neglected to acknowledge in my check-in spontaneously popped into my awareness and I thought: “Hey … wait a minute. I need a re-do on my check-in.” Upon deeper reflection, I had to concede that things were not really as rosy as the picture I had painted for my colleagues. I mean …
- How could I say I was “really good” when my dryer had just broken down and left me with two heavy wet loads threatening to mildew in my basement?
- Wasn’t it a bit of stretch to say that I was “really good” when my husband’s computer was still crashed after two attempts to replace the mother board by really techno-savvy geeks had failed … ?
- How on earth could I say I was “really good” when my house was covered in a ¼ inch of rock dust that was perpetually drifting down from the seemingly snails-pace renovations?
- Was it really honest to say I was “really good” when I have been somewhat indignant and grumbling about having to park outside ever since my garage was converted into a workshop for the renovations?
- Was it “really good” that I had just spent the lunch hour in the washroom trying to dislodge some chicken that had caught in my esophagus and was causing painful spasms?
- I wasn’t feeling “really good” about choosing to be courageous in the face of an ethical dilemma … I was feeling downright vulnerable.
In light of these realities, whose ‘really good’ life was I telling my colleagues about? I found myself curiously wondering how all that stuff had completely fallen off my radar during the meeting.
And then … I remembered.
I remembered that it started out like a usual day. The sun was shining and the day was planned …BUT … things don’t always go as planned. On this particular day, a very cherished friend/colleague of my daughters had been hit head-on in a horrific accident that promptly claimed the life of her best friend. Her own precious life was miraculously hanging in the tentative balance between staying ‘here’ and going ‘there’ to join her friend. No one knew what the next moment would bring. Tears flowed … spirits gasped … and … fears all but eclipsed the tenuous hopes timidly trying to prevail amidst the uncertainties that no one dared to sputter aloud …
They said her prognosis was grim. They said most people could not survive the extent of her injuries. Pelvis broken in 3 places, back fractured in 3 places, all ribs crushed, a punctured lung, a perforated aorta and every bone in her face pulverized. It seemed though, that the feisty spirit of this most beautiful soul was determined to defy the odds as the minutes turned into hours turned into days. I carried her in my heart as I went about my usual routine. I know I was not alone. She remained foremost in all our thoughts and prayers.
As I reflect on it now, I am guessing that during ‘check-in’, I was subconsciously taking my own inventory from this humble, tender and fragile space. I’m speculating that I neglected to mention the realities that were irritating me, because they were simply that … irritating. I can live with irritating. My choice is whether I decide to do it begrudgingly or not. I’m guessing that somewhere deep within my psyche, my testament to being “really good” reflected my perception that, in the grand scheme of things, irritations are preferable to crises … but only 100% of the time.
I am recognizing, more and more, that in each and every moment, it is not what we are looking at that matters, it is what we choose to see. Our perspective frames our interpretations. Perception creates reality and as Debbie Ford points out in her book “The Right Questions” we can spend our moments looking for what is right or we can spend them focused upon what is going wrong. It all depends upon the perspectacles ( a term coined by Glennon Doyle Melton) with which we choose to look … we can see things as desirable or undesirable in any situation, event or circumstance. I don’t consciously remember putting on my rose-colored glasses before the meeting, but clearly something inside me was wisely adjusting the lens through which I made my assessment. I wasn’t lying to my colleagues or to myself. I wasn’t in any kind of Pollyanna-ish denial. Despite the irritations that could have shifted my perception to an unfavorable place, I can see that I probably was feeling “really good” … all things considered.
When I am looking for what is right, I can see miracles are unfolding around us with each and every breath. In fact, my daughter’s friend continues to affirm my belief in miracles. So far, she is still ‘here’ … and … so many hearts are holding her with much tender love and eager hope for brighter moments ahead. She is teaching me to believe that a prognosis does not have to be your reality. She is teaching me to not let the moment define you, but rather, to define the moment. She is teaching me about never giving up. She is teaching me that there are blessings worth living for … but only 100% of the time.
As for me, when I am looking for what is right in this very moment , I can see that my the dryer is fixed, my husband’s computer was replaced free of charge by DELL (Yeah DELL!), my esophagus is not currently in spasm so I can eat again and the dust is mostly cleared.
When I am looking for what is wrong in this moment, I can see that the door of my medicine cabinet broke off in my hands, there are a few imperfections in the renovations and I am still parked in the driveway … I guess I’ll be scraping ice and snow off my car for a while yet.
Although it’s tempting to let the ‘wrong’ steal the ‘right’ from my view, in the final analysis, I am ‘seeing’ that I don’t need a re-do on my check-in after all. Despite what I am looking at in my life (at any given moment), the truth of the matter is this: I really am “really good” … until I decide that I am not. But only 100% of the time.
Looking for what is right and seeing so many blessings that tears have filled my eyes, Karen
P.S. Since writing this yesterday, we had a big dump of snow and my husband very unexpectedly cleared the garage. We just never know what the next moment will bring. May we be looking in such a way that we miss not a single blessing as we all see our way through the days to come …