(Note: I wrote this while sitting on the bleachers at my daughter’s basketball game. My butt hurt, as did my back. Those bleachers are not comfortable for a middle-schooler, let alone for a 39-year-old mother of two, even one with ample butt padding. I rarely write by hand, with actual pen to paper, so it felt different, and I felt I needed to share all of that with you. People were looking at me strangely, too. This is all likely completely irrelevant information, but there you have it. )
(Self can be me or it can be you. You get my point.)
You can’t fix shit whenever you want. Actually, you can’t fix shit most of the time.
I don’t mean shit like a vase or a flat tire or a squeaky door.
I mean big shit. Like a broken heart or a wounded ego or deteoriated relationship or a dead-end job.
You can’t always fix that big stuff. Especially when it is someone else’s shit.
And guess what? In most cases, no one is asking you to fix any of it.
When someone tells you about their problematic relationship or the crappy job or the missed mortgage payment or the parent who is one more fall away from a nursing home or their square-peg kid who just doesn’t fit into the round-hole of school, chances are you cannot do a freakin thing about it.
Not about any of it.
You want to, and if you are anything like me, you feel the pain and the anguish and the heartbreak of those you care about. And you carry it with you. And you want to use all your skills and expertise and greatness to just make that shit go away.
But you cannot fix it.
You cannot solve it.
You cannot neaten it up.
You may be good, but you’re no Fairy Godmother.
What you are, though, is even better and it its own way, infinitely more powerful.
You have tools, but they always don’t erase or solve or fix or perform miracles. There is no ‘quick fix” so, frankly, your power doesn’t feel all that satisfying in the moment.
Nevertheless, what you can do and what you are is magic in its own way: You are a friend. A best friend. A lover. A life partner. A spouse. A parent. A neighbor. A sister or brother. A coach. A stranger.
You can listen.
You can support.
You can be there. Really be there.
You can offer a safe haven.
You can laugh. And you can remember (and remind) that even the most serious shit offers some lightness, some brightness, some joy.
You can reserve judgment and dispense love. Lots of love.
You can remember that our greatest lessons, our best moments, our deepest laughs and our highest highs don’t automatically appear on the doorstep of our lives. They are born – always, though in so many different ways – from our lowest moments, from our tragedies, from the moments we may ask that question of “Can it get any worse? “ or “Why me?”
There is a profound perfection in all of the things we wish would go away, in the lows and in our worst moments. There is a profound perfection not in the fixing, but in the broken itself. It is right there, in the midst of the broken, that we find our way, that we do save ourselves, that we help and guide and support the ones we love.
It is in the broken that our finest hour can, finally, begin to emerge.
I’d say, “And that’s it!” but it’s more like “And that’s more than enough.”
That, in fact, is everything.
Love, Your Self
P.S. Reminds me of the Matchbox Twenty song “Bent:”
If I fall along the way
Pick me up and dust me off
And if I get too tired to make it
Be my breath so I can walk
If I need some other love
Give me more than I can stand
And when my smile gets old and faded
Wait around I’ll smile again