"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down." —Mary Pickford
My first serious relationship after my divorce, I fell in love with someone who decided to leave the state, er….run away from his life (okay this is my editorial comment). In the process of mourning the end of that relationship, I went through a difficult period, as one would imagine. The mourning of a relationship’s end is never easy, unless you have no feelings for the person.
One weekend when my daughter was with her dad, I awoke feeling like a noodle stuck to the side of a pot, and couldn’t peel myself off the bed. Mind you, I had already spent days where I gave myself permission to feel sorry for myself, lethargic, and quite simply lost. You know how your normal routine is turned upside down at the end of a relationship? When you find yourself in this transition period between the old familiar routine and now having to develop a new routine, minus the person you love, but not quite knowing where to begin.
As I lay there, I knew that I was the only one doing this to myself. He’s out discovering his new world, his newfound adventure, while I clearly elected to lay there and self-impose this suffering. Meanwhile, I was wasting yet another day, and wasting my life. I realize that there is always a reason to get up and out of the house. Even if it’s pride, nudging at me. It’s better than laying in a dark room, pining away for someone who’s already on the road exploring a new life.
I’ll never know what awaits me, if I just lay lifeless, opting out of the day. I must be brave enough to reckon with the uncertainty of what lay ahead. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to get out of the house, but despite that, I knew I had to do something good for myself. It’s times like these that we have to treat ourselves like our own best friends, taking good care of ourselves and our hearts. Taking on the healing that we need to allow ourselves to partake in.
That morning I faked the energy to get out of the house, and did it despite my initial inclination to throw another pity party. I set out to do my own form of exploring……and went for a run.
Some 40 minutes after running, I felt so alive. I inhaled long deep breaths, and knew I was where I was supposed to be that morning. Not hiding in bed, but out in the wide open space, under the warmth of the sun, under the billowy clouds brush stroked across the sky.
My stride was energetic and I was encompassed by joy. It washed over me unexpectedly. It is what I so desperately needed to get back in touch with.
Later, on my way out of the park, I spotted a squirrel who curiously stopped to stare at me. Some 7 feet away from him, I decided to stop, and observe. This caused him to immediately start up the tree. I decided to make a sound with my mouth, unlike anything I’ve done before. You see, in my 40’s I hadn’t taken to talking to squirrels yet, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
It was a sound made with my tongue against the roof of my mouth and against my teeth. Sort of a “Tch tch tch” sound—Very odd, and very impromptu. I guess it was squirrel chatter, because upon hearing me, the squirrel descended and faced me. I got such a kick out of discovering this sound, which could captivate a squirrel.
Enchanted by his interest, I squatted to make the squirrel feel more at ease. I began having thoughts like, “What do squirrels eat? What can I bring my new friend?”
I caught myself and thought, “Oh great! I could become squirrel Lady! Sort of on the order of a ‘Bird Lady.’ ” I shook away the images of a Bird Lady at a park bench feeding pigeons.
I shifted my observation to how beautiful and graceful this creature is. I began talking to him. (Got to talk to the squirrel to complete the Squirrel Lady portrait.) In between the “Tch tch tch,” I was expressing, “You are so beautiful! God has made you, and me, all in this beautiful world of His creation.” I was engrossed in this spiritual moment, admiring God’s creation and the green majesty surrounding us. That’s precisely when I had my epiphany.
Respecting gravity, swooshing past my ear, in grand, white, pasty form, was a present from above firmly planting itself on my bare arm. It was truly great timing! While in grand admiration of God’s world, there was a present also from God’s world, which dropped on me directly.
It’s as if the relieving bird was telling me, “Yes, even this too is of God’s world. Take that!”
I thought it befitting to use God’s resources to wipe it off. I reached above and grabbed hold of some leaves to clean myself off. (Maybe I can write a book on 101 useful ways to use a leaf.)
What others might have easily concluded was a bad experience, for me, held such irony I had to laugh. I see my experience as a metaphor to the way life is. Just because I choose to actively engage life, observe and praise God’s marvelous world, doesn’t make me immune from nasty surprises.
None of us is ever exempt from experiencing life in its purest forms, which includes the high of the joys, and the disappointments of poop moments. Living is the blend of both, a medley of these many experiences. Ultimately it’s up to us whether we emerge cursing life or embracing it, in its own infinite beauty. If we wish to experience the beauty we must retain our sense of humor, remain flexible, and willing to adapt to change. When poop happens, wipe it off and keep going!