I am mostly over my cold. The cough apparently will remain with me for a while. I don't know what changed, if it is just age or happenstance, something I did or didn't do when caring for George, but somehow, my colds have evolved from being mostly head colds, to being mostly chest colds, colds that seem inclined to develop into bronchitis. I'd like to blame it on Tennessee, because the first time I had bronchitis was my first winter in Tennessee, but I am sure that is coincidence more than anything else. But I'm here and doing pretty well, and I wanted to write this post, although it is not really very finished and really isn't likely to be. I ask your patience with unfinished thoughts and random musings, all I really seem up to at this point.
I've been thinking about little things, perhaps a series of random little things, yes, but the way little things can sometimes lead us toward insight. The path may be slow, it may be even a bit circular, but eventually we hopefully get where we are supposed to be.
For example, I walked into my office the other morning to find a good sized piece of glass sitting on the floor. I certainly didn't expect it, and initially I couldn't figure out where it might have come from. It seemed as if it had just miraculously appeared. But it was early, and I had not yet had my coffee, so perhaps my neural synapses were not quite up to full speed. It was also the first day of this recent cold, although I wasn't yet aware of that either.
Later, when I sat at my desk, coffee in hand, I noticed that there were fine glass shards on my desk as well. It was then that I noticed the candle, which I had been burning the previous evening, and which had obviously broken after I extinguished the flame and the candle was cooling. I was somewhat saddened by this loss of my favorite candle. It had not burned too low, according to the directions on the candle at any rate, I had not burned it over 4 hours (as directed) and I wasn't sure quite was had caused the problem. It is a small thing, and I yet I was saddened by the loss, and spent a disproportionate amount of time fretting about it.
Why was such a small thing so important? Things break. Life changes. Sometimes it is simply time to move on to something different. But I think we all hold on to the familiar, we all want to hold on to comfort, to what we know, to past happiness, and we tend to be nervous about change. We all hold on to things that are symbols of love, or warmth, or comfort, and sometimes we put too much weight in the small thing, and perhaps not enough weight in the big thing that the symbol commemorates.
A month or so a job I used to do was sent out. I wasn't consulted, and really there was no reason that I should be consulted. It wasn't my decision to be made. But that doesn't mean that I wasn't sad. I had enjoyed this particular task; I found it relaxing and grounding in a way, although truthfully there were also times when I was busy and it was time-consuming and I would have done other things. But when faced with losing that task, all I could think about was what I had lost, and it took me a little bit to recognize what I had gained.
Perhaps the candle was simply a metaphor. Perhaps I need to stop doing the same things I've always done the way I've always done them. I know this is true. I know that there are particular skills I have, skills that I've used in my career and my life, skills that have gotten me where I am now, and sometimes people ask me if I want to use those skills to help small business or do certain things, but at the same time I realize that although I do have those skills, I have not perhaps used them in the way that is best for me. I have used them in the way that is best for others, for what my job needed, or what I perceived others to need, or to help other people realize things that they needed, but I haven't used those same skills in ways that let my other gifts and talents flourish for my own growth and benefit. I keep repeating the same patterns because I am good at those patterns. And forging new paths is somewhat unsettling because I don't actually know that I will be good at these new things. But that doesn't mean that I don't need to try them.
Like lighting my familiar, favorite candle, I keep repeating the same paths, because they are comfortable and fulfilling enough, and I accept that good enough is perhaps all I need. But perhaps this is a mistake. Perhaps I need to stop treading the same old paths, wearing down my resources until my own glass weakens and breaks.
I was at a funeral yesterday. We sang Amazing Grace. I've written here before about how I held George's hand and sang Amazing Grace when he was dying, how he died during the final verse. A door was opened and he slipped through. For a long time after George's death I physically could not sing Amazing Grace. I would start to break down in tears, and then I would just shut down, lock the door and drop the key, afraid that I would fall apart. I couldn't sing, and because I couldn't sing I couldn't cry. I was thinking about what I had lost, and I was holding on desperately to that loss, trying to keep the door from opening again.
Eventually I let my sadness in, let love in, let grace in. And I was able to sing that song, and share my loss and sadness and also my joy, because there was joy mixed in with all that sadness and grief. That is what the song is about. And I remain grateful to those who stood by me and held me and helped me to sing again, and again, and again.
Yesterday, singing Amazing Grace, I wasn't sad at all. I realized that I was singing for the opening of the door, and that is what grace gives us. The bridge between those universes. As we all sang, it was as if a bubble in time, a bubble in dimensions even, had opened, and for that moment we could be in touch with all those universes, all our loved ones, together, singing. Not broken glass, but open doors.