On occasion, I’ve done this in the past, here on the blog, where I’ll post very brief paragraph, sometimes it is a poem, other times it is the beginning of what could be a short story. Today, I’m sharing another:
In some ways, she knew it would be him the moment she saw his eyes; deep pools of blackness, like a rich, sinful dark chocolate the color of the midnight sky.
Not a speck of color, yet their depth was greater than she could fathom. Staring into them as the rest of his face was concealed in mask, it was all she needed to know. They spoke for him, his eyes, drinking her in, settling on her gaze and fixating on the way she waved her arms as she spoke.
He was hers before he knew, before even she knew, capturing the strings of her heart often left dangling and longing, but with him, they twisted loosely around him and her, bringing them together in theory, but still miles apart in reality.
Everywhere she looked and still, she could not find it.
In an apartment of less than 700 square feet, yet still it could not be found.
No matter where she searched, who she asked or what she recalled, still she could not uncover the missing piece.
High and low, near and far, in logical places and the strangest ones, those concealed and highly visible, still it could not be found.
Searching and searching for hours, weeks, months and years, she feared she would never find it.
In time, she stopped, convincing herself it would cease to be found.
Closing the door to an impossible enigma, she continued on, leaving behind the idea of one day finding the elusive piece.
Then, just as quickly as it left, suddenly, without warning or even an initial realization on her part, it appeared.
Sitting there, calmly and justly, quietly summoning her attention, it appeared.
Without noise, without a single motion, it waited patiently for her to take note.
It was unassuming, but as she noticed, she felt the void she perpetually nursed within her finally filling and the concave gap swiftly closing.
A disintegrating gaping hole rendering her whole again, she cradled the piece in her hand.
The jigsaw puzzle that is her life with pieces scattered throughout, the most fundamental one of all – the building block, finally found.
Watching and feeling as it all came together, uniform in many places, but still unique and distinct in some, she marveled at the epiphany that had become of her and exhaled the past, inhaling the present and future and all that was to come.
Today is as much about remembrance as it is about togetherness and reflection. When someone (maybe even us) is hurting or going through a challenging time, it can be difficult to know what to do or say to help, or how to identify what we or someone else may need. This morning, I stumbled upon this passage written by Winnie the Pooh creator, A.A. Milne, which I think sums it up quite perfectly, without much doubt. When we have no words, sometimes the quiet presence and awareness of another who waits or listens patiently, is all the remedy we need.
Pooh’s Difficult Day by A.A. Milne
“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.
There was a pause.
“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Piglet.
“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”
“That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.
“What are you doing?” asked Pooh.
“Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either.
“But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”
And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right.” A.A. Milne
Sending thoughts to those having a Difficult Day today and hope you have your own Piglet to sit beside you.
She decided to walk away from all she was unsure of, because she knew it would not serve her.
The uncertainty, the hesitation and reluctance, all of it came full circle and she realized it would never be hers to claim.
She walked away with her head slightly down, still hoping that in time, all she aspired to would be hers, but realized if it was not, she would stand tall in spite of it, continuing on her path.
Wise she was, with her mind focused on who she wanted to be and the places she would visit. Sometimes, she was a stationary traveler, experiencing and moving to places she would never physically encounter.
She was quiet, but not afraid to be loud. She was small, but not afraid to stand tall. She was herself and for her, that was enough.
A few weeks ago, I wandered the outdoor garden center at a local home improvement store, perusing the flowers, perennials, herbs and plants. Some were abundant and in full bloom, others were starting to bud or about to bloom, but all were equally beautiful and poignant. They were gathered together, each of them offering something different; sometimes they served primarily a function, others served as both function and decor, but all were equally as remarkable to take in. Walking the aisles, I took in the vibrant colors, sights and smells. Some were more fragrant than others with their sweet notes bringing back memories of childhood when I’d wander the neighborhood as the plants and flowers started to bloom.
As cliche as it may sound, it was enchanting to take the time to simply be in the presence of botany and nature at its finest. Sometimes when I look at the flowers and plants in bloom or just beginning on their journey, I think of how easily it can be related back to life in general. We are all always at different steps and points in our journey of life, encompassing recovery, wisdom, healing and strength.
Many may question or not understand our journeys and choices. They may contemplate or grill us on why “we’re not past what ails or troubles us.” They may ask why our personal demons still rear their destructive heads. They may ask why we still feel the pain of something that occurred so long ago. Truth is, each of our respective journeys do not require explanations or justifications. Much of the healing is internal and invisible to the eye, but can be dramatically felt within. Sometimes the external scars are the last to heal, or persist, but they are not there for judgment and chastising, but rather to remind us of our strength and just how far we’ve come in our journey.
Sometimes I think about the herbs that can be revived even when looking so sparse and ready to be disposed of. A mint or basil plant with leaves that are nearly browning, or wilting, or even celery can be revived with a little time, care and patience; just as people can.
Give people the chance to heal in the way they need; in the way or process that complements who they are. Offer help in a gentle manner, or be the sounding board or helping hand. Like how plants, flowers and herbs derive their benefits through patience, hydration and a little bit of sunlight, for us as humans it can also make all the difference.
We ask why, but there often is no answer, or at least one we aren’t privy to and even if we were, would fail to suffice our questioning. There are actions, choices and decisions others make that we will never comprehend, no matter how hard we try. What makes sense to another and is in other words, “justified,” to us, is nothing of the sort. Sometimes, it’s things that are minor, such as a choice to wear a particular outfit, hairstyle, or decision to shop at a particular retailer. Other times, it is of grave circumstances, such as an action of violence, disrespect, or some other type of choice with negative and detrimental impacts.
For me, the place I frequent the most and always have since childhood is the grocery store. It is a place with memories, ideas, and nostalgia; it is a place I recall visiting on certain days alongside my mom, happily situated in the shopping cart, interacting with products, store employees and dreaming up ways to incorporate my own ideas into recipes. There are people working within the confines of stores who put forth every morsel of effort they have, spending hours on their feet attending to customers, fielding questions, stocking shelves, resolving register and coupon issues and now, completing online orders and shuffling them into cars and from place to place. In other words, they are part-hero, part-lifesaver. Each time I complete a grocery store pickup, or have a positive encounter with a grocery store employee, I leave feeling a bit better, grateful for their knowledge, expertise and help.
So many of us run into grocery stores without even thinking, or while loved ones wait patiently in the car or at home for us. We run into these stores more often than not, without a thought of anything beyond what we need to pick up or what tasks remain to complete the day. Maybe we get a craving for something special, or spot a recipe that piques our interests and long to create, while other times, maybe we’ve run out of something and need to quickly replenish. No matter the case, the grocery store is a communal setting; whether someone is of a higher income, moderate, or the lower-end, unlike certain clothing or department stores, a grocery store serves as a common ground and meeting place, housing what we ALL need; nutrition, hydration and basic needs.
We run into these stores sometimes on autopilot, or anywhere for that reason. Sometimes we walk into stores or public settings distracted and focused on the thoughts in our minds versus what we are actually doing and aspiring to accomplish at the moment. We assume it will be the same; the cereal boxes lined up next to one another down their respective aisles, the milk and yogurt situated close to one another, the meats existing in their respective section. Until one day, something isn’t the same, as it wasn’t yesterday afternoon on an unassuming, otherwise typical Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, NY.
Countless families and people in general choose to shop on the weekends. Sometimes they have more time, or maybe, it just so happens that day and time works for them, or they find they need to pick up a couple items with an immediate need. Given how much has already been spoken of the tragedy that transpired yesterday in Buffalo, I don’t need to explain the specifics, but what I will say is how much it hit home; how much of it sat in my mind as it still does, thinking of the number of times my mom and I visit the grocery store each week, as we are often cooking not only ourselves, but others. The grocery store is a place I think of as almost a second home; a reliable, trustworthy staple that is familiar, affording me with the items I need and want and familiar faces.
A nod hello or an acknowledgment of some kind, familiar signage and items; sometimes, it can be a comfort visiting the grocery store and seeing something unchanged or something I know can be a constant in this ever-changing world. When feeling isolated and alone, the grocery store can even be a place to be around others and provide comradeship.
So many in this day and age and even in the past, strive to take away rights, choices and decisions from others, who are innocent, who have done nothing except exist and be a respectable individual. All of us are more than a body, more than our skin and hair and appearance in general; we are human, first and foremost and it’s time to start treating each other as such.
Respect each other; see the differences, but instead of judging or assuming, notice. What lurks beneath is and has always been more important than an exterior. Nothing can replace the kindness and beauty of a grateful heart and a space to be who we are and how we want to be.
Every day we see and meet people, whether in person, through a screen, a phone call, or as a thought and memory within our minds. Sometimes, the messages go unread, unanswered, ignored, or are forgotten. Sometimes, the conversations end, or are abruptly halted, or they simply dissolve. Sometimes the birthdays or the important moments are forgotten. Sometimes, they hear us speak, but aren’t really listening to what is being communicated at all. Other times, the hands are no longer held, the embrace is no longer feasible, and the connection is severed, maybe permanently or perhaps temporarily.
Maybe we’ve created these “truths” or “realities” within our minds and it is more about how we feel about ourselves versus how others perceive us. No matter the case, the way others feel or see us is not within our control. We can only be the person we choose to become or allow ourselves to be and even though we may desperately want to be perceived by others the way we see fit, ultimately, their thoughts, perceptions and decisions are their own.
Sometimes, we don’t realize how we really are; we may lack the insight of how our behaviors, actions and words are being portrayed or received by others and vice versa. Someone’s actions, words or lack thereof, more often than not, has nothing to do with us. There is a poignant quote that reads, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle we know nothing about.” Some battle their demons privately, others publicly. Words and behaviors they say or enact may feel callous or directed towards us, but usually, they are not intended for us at all, but instead a manifestation of the internal hurt and anguish.
Sometimes, I look at myself and I consider and focus on what I lack, who I wish was or what I wish I’d done differently in my life. Sometimes I hold back because how others see me, or how I could be received by them; do they question why I’m not a certain way, why I’m single, why I haven’t achieved many of the goals so many my age have? Will they still want to interact with me if I’m not the person I feel I SHOULD be?
Friendship, family and love is not about what we have achieved and what accolades have been bestowed upon us; but rather about what we give physically and emotionally. The quote below is one I saw yesterday and one that resonated deeply with me, having recently experienced another birthday. It’s been a full 17 years since my life dramatically changed; a full 17 years of growth, change and transformation and though much is still the same, so much is not. On that recent aforementioned birthday, in the evening, I listened to the dial tone of a call abruptly ended in my ear. Listening to its drone, I shook and felt years younger, remembering a similar moment many years ago as a college student, feeling lost and uncertain. Brushing myself off, I confronted the truth – being proud of myself is not something that comes naturally to me, but when I struggle, I think of my niece and nephew and my hopes and wishes for them. My hope is for them to be proud of who they are; proud of their strength and wisdom and their ability to help and care for others, as well as themselves. Though they are both young, I can see and identify it in them, even from the beginning. It leads me to think, if I am proud of them, I can surely be proud of myself instead of fixating on how others could see me, which is beyond my control and power.
Self-worth is internal. What we see on the outside is not always reflective of what is internal. No matter who you are, you’ve fought hard to be here and still are; be proud.
Often times, all I ever feel I regularly see is “anti-aging,” how to avoid the inevitable, the lines, the wrinkles, all the pieces that render someone to be “aging.” As I’ve grown older, a year in fact as of yesterday, I realize more than ever, aging is not something to be feared or avoided, but more so the contrary. To me, aging is a privilege and an opportunity; a reality that affords us with the chance to continue on, the chance to keep going, to inspire ourselves and others, to do better, or to keep on doing the best we can.
As my 34th birthday rapidly approached in the preceding days, I started to contemplate all the ways in which I felt behind and stagnant in my life, having not achieved the goals I always aspired to or believed I should have. There I was, the age my mom was when she brought me into this world and my own life couldn’t be more different, but then another thought surfaced; who’s to say my path was wrong? Truth of the matter is, the paths we take are not wrong; they are our own and we navigate them as best we can, given the circumstances we are presented with. The infamous quote reads, “It is not the years themselves that matter most, but the life in those years.” For me, my 34-years of life has been nothing short of growth, learning, changing, adapting, pausing, losing, but also finding and discovering. Sometimes I feel scattered in pieces and the only thing I can do is inhale, exhale and pick up those aforementioned pieces, slowly but surely. We pivot each and every day, and for me, life has become more about quality over quantity. A life and heart can be filled to capacity in love and passion without needing an abundance of tangible “things.”
Yesterday, I crouched on the floor as my 2.5-year-old nephew embraced me in a bear hug, handing me a balloon and flowers. There aren’t many, if any physical and tangible gifts that can replace moments like those. They are the ones that make aging all the more sweeter; the ones that make me grateful for another day, year and moment. To watch my niece and nephew grow and discover themselves and life is a gift I get to unwrap each and every time I am in their presence.
Walking into stores, viewing social media and advertising in general, we are instructed to fear aging, but yesterday and today, I strive to be free of the fear; aging gives us the privilege to still be, to feel the sun on our backs, to experience the tastes of our favorite foods, to hear the laughter of dear friends and family, and to hold the hands of those we love.
Late last night, as my head hit my pillow and I reflected on the hours of the day, I realized how lucky I am to have people in my life who make aging an experience to be desired and strived for, who make those lines and wrinkles tokens of memories.
Sometimes it’s a simple bag of dog treats, a couple magazines, a coupon, or a text saying hello. Other times, it’s a walk around the neighborhood, a wave, a comment on a social media post or a simple acknowledgment, overall. A lot of people talk about the “grand gestures,” the sweeping acts that often make someone jump, recoil, look deeper or reconsider. Some might think those are the ones that matter most, but not me; for me, it is those aforementioned acts, the dog food drop off, the magazines and the small acts and nods that are most impactful and demonstrative of love, care and understanding.
My thoughts today were inspired by this very article (https://witanddelight.com/2022/04/how-to-show-love/) I stumbled upon this morning, which details five simple ways to remind people that you love them; they aren’t something completely out of the ordinary, but they contain acts that some might consider “nothing,” or commonplace, when in reality, they mean and convey much, much more than that.
Imagine my surprise when yesterday, such an innocent act of shopping in my local grocery store for a neighbor led me to an experience of being bullied as a woman in her 30’s. To me, it conveyed, we can be 3, 8, 12, 16, 33, 60, 80, or even older, and STILL fall victim to being bullied. Though, what I had to fight through and eventually accept, is that though I FELT victimized, I didn’t have to BE the victim; instead, I could choose empathy, feeling sorry for the woman who imparted that bullying upon me. She was a woman with children, perhaps her grandchildren, I’m unsure, but in any case, her actions towards me persisted the entire shopping trip. Our actions have power, whether they are towards a loved one, a friend, acquaintance, or a stranger. That person with the pained look upon their face, or the one who is desperately steamrolling through the grocery store, or who is impatiently tapping their foot while waiting in line? Maybe they’re anxious, maybe today is the first day they managed to leave their house, maybe today is a challenge set forth by themselves or their therapist, maybe they just lost everything they owned in a fire; maybe they ended a relationship; maybe they were fired from their job and have no idea how they are even going to PAY for those groceries in their cart, the one she could barely get, because a woman was refusing to make room her cart down the produce aisle. In any case, we only see the exterior of people when we don’t personally know them and even sometimes, this is the reality, when we actually ARE personally acquainted with them. In most situations, we only know what we are told, but often assume we know because of what is visibly seen.
So much more lurks below the surface and so much more can be done to help but also hurt, in countless situations. It is just as easy to be kind, understanding and accommodating to others, as it is to be cruel; or actually, to me, it is easier to be kind. Though I don’t always feel the best about myself, being kind to others and doing something nice for them or acknowledging them in some way, is often the best remedy and source of medicine and healing I could ever employ.
The moral of my post today, if you’re wondering, as I rambled much throughout, is to emphasize the meaning and significance of kindness and care; of a small act, an acknowledgment or gesture. Sometimes these acts are the ones that give someone wings to fly, hope to believe in themselves and the future and the strength to push on when the skies are dark and stormy. The grand gestures? Those can surely be welcome and wonderful, but all the same, those “small” ones matter, too, often more than one would think. Today is a great day for one of those; today and everyday.