Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Great Expectations

I was tearing up when I walked in the door. I was starting to cry when I sat down on the couch. I was definitely crying when I started talking. What's the right way to talk about death? I'm not sure. It's never easy, but I'm beginning to believe it's incredibly important.

Twenty minutes before, I had called and asked if I could come over. I imagined in my head that if someone close to me died, I would want to know their life mattered.

"I just thought you might like to know your mom mattered to me," I began. "I wrote a blog about her last year. I printed it out and I'm willing to leave it for you if you'd like, or I can tell you about it."

They asked me to come in. I sat down and started to tell them about a particularly low day when I needed to connect with another human being to know I wasn't crazy and someone else understood. That's where I met her on the road. We talked and we connected. I wanted them to know that I was so sorry she was gone, but that day mattered to me and I won't forget her.

We cried. We talked. Death is not an easy conversation. Never will be. Everybody copes differently. But honesty continues to be one of the best ways I know of to get through life, to connect with people, to heal.

Writing this blog has changed my life. That may sound like a bold statement, but really, what doesn't change our lives in some way, big or minutely miniscule. I think everything matters somehow. Like the fact that it snowed 4 inches last night and I missed my yoga class, that made a difference in me. Or the gluten-free cookbook I leafed through this afternoon, somehow, that mattered. I might not know how, and why, where and when. I don't think that fully understanding our experiences makes them meaningful. Life comes fully loaded. We don't need to assign meaning, it's actually quite difficult for me to imagine how the little things don't matter.

Life is a cumulative test. All the material is fair game. Our experiences build and compound the longer we live. What happened to us ten years ago, may finally make sense tomorrow. Or, perhaps more accurately, we may never understand the little interactions and symbols and songs and decisions that impacted us. But we aren't designed to figure out life, we're only put here to embrace them.

Sure a little understanding makes for the AH-HA! moments in life, when all the pieces come together and we learn something new, something different that changes us. I search for these in my life. I keep my eyes open for the little experiences that change me. I need them in my life. I write about them here. Some are more profound than others, but all are important to me.

If I had never started this blog, I wouldn't know how much I enjoy writing.
If I had never started this blog, I would've suffered even more than I did in Camdodia.
If I had never started this blog I'd still be hiding an eating disorder from the world, I'd still be striving for perfect (and being quite convincingly too), I'd still be stuck in a quite meaningless existance where I couldn't communicate with people and I couldn't admit that I'm human.
If I hadn't started this blog, I wouldn't be as good of friends with Janelle, Kevin, Roger, Jim, Tim, Tyler, Jen, Cherise, Sarah, Katie, Sierra, and many more who have shared who they are with me. We've started conversations that will go on.
If I hadn't started this blog, I highly doubt I'd be dating Jeremy. We disliked each other my freshman year and that wouldn't have changed. We built our relationship on an honesty that continues to change my world.
If I had never started this blog, I wouldn't have written my book that will come out July 2010, entitled, appropriately, Honestly, I'm Struggling.
If I had never started this blog, my life would be very different.

I could trace this to Ben and Ashley for encouraging me to start a blog. But who invented blogs? Who invented the internet? I guess I have Al Gore to thank for the lessons I've learned. It's actually quite dizzying to stop and consider the chain of events that brings us to where we stand. This might be one of my strongest reasons I believe in the existance of a god.

As Charles Dickens writes in Great Expectations, "That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."