I'm going to a memorial service this evening for a friend who died way too young. He had just turned forty. He has an equally young wife, who is a dear friend, and a very young son. Every single thing about the end of his story is wrong, especially the fact that it's the end of his story. It should be the middle.
This, I tell myself as a forty-something, is where it's supposed to get interesting. It's where we pick up steam. Where we figure stuff out. Where we get to apply all that stuff we learned by stumbling through it in our twenties and letting it sink in during our thirties. This is the where the good stuff is supposed to be, right?
Except there is no unadulterated good stuff. No purely bad stuff. I know better now than I did before that it's all mixed up together. There is no toddler plate that separates the hard, sad stuff from the joyous, amazing stuff. It's all blended together. It's all a chance to nourish and be nourished. It's all a chance to show up at the table and try our damnedest to bring something worthy of sharing.
It's all, as my mom used to say, another $#%ing growth opportunity.
Some days I'm full of gratitude for the opportunity to grow. Some days I ask for the willingness to just show up and be useful, and I hope that the gratitude will appear later. Today is one of those.
Today is one of those days when I look for meaning and fail to find it but keep moving anyway because I'm forty-something and I have responsibilities. I know just enough today to be useful in spite of myself and my sadness. I know just enough to let myself have the cookie and keep focused on what's really important in this moment.
And I know just enough today to know that what’s useful is showing up and loving the other people who are hurting today.
Here's to being useful. And to growing. Because it turns out we're #$%ing lucky if we can.
I'm interested in what keeps us engaged in our work, the world, and each other.