What is it about last minute projects that come in at Christmas?! Yesterday I spent the afternoon unravelling, cajoling, and managing clients and I had quite a lot of time waiting around at my laptop. So I decided to reduce the draft email box from 150+ to a more manageable 20.
While doing this, I found the following quote by Alfred D. Souza that I’d ‘saved’ there…
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”
I saved this in early 2016 when the outlook was grim. My daughter was depressed. She couldn’t leave the house for her crippling anxiety made it impossible, as did her weight. She felt the cold so intensely we lived with the heating on and she’d wear layers of clothes in an attempt to get and keep warm. We were living moment to moment and the future, well, that wasn’t happening in the Alderson household.
Reading this quote stopped me in my tracks. At first I was indignant. Alfred D. Souza had clearly never lived a challenging life. He’d never had a child beg him to let her die. He’d not coped with desperate, sleepless nights. What did he know about my life?
But his words kept coming back to me. What if I could see this experience as something to be embraced and not something to want to get out of the way? What could we gain and learn from that approach?
None of us want to see our children ill and incapable of living the brilliant lives we imagine for them.
We don’t want to have to explain to a society that doesn’t get it why they can’t ‘just’ go to school, or order their own drink, or make eye contact.
We don’t need to have those conversations where we justify why they can’t shower or sleep.
We don’t deserve to have to fight for their wellbeing, their peace, and their future.
But you, like me, were called to fight that fight and overcome those obstacles. Yes, of course it would be better to have an easy run. But life isn’t like that.
Issy’s mental illness isn’t the only challenge to have been chucked into my life. It wasn’t all skipping through the daisies until she got ill. And so, approaching life as a series of obstacles and highs and lows and challenges and triumphs and ever changing circumstances stops us being jealous of those with seemingly perfect lives ( they don’t exist) and allows us to see the connection and benefits (yes, benefits – not a typo!) of being placed in a dark place.
Another of my favourite quotes is:
Sometimes when you think you’ve been buried you’ve actually been planted.
And like a seedling, you need to be fed and watered and nurtured to grow in spite of these situations. Gratitude is one way of doing this, self care – from saying no, to sleeping late and everything in between – is another. And having a growth mindset – believing you can and will get through this and you’ll become a different person. It takes time and patience, but better to be optimistic about the future than frustrated by the present.
We’re all becoming every day.
Becoming stronger. becoming compassionate, becoming more connected and aware.
Alfred’s quote shows us that we can get comfortable with the becoming that is happening now, and embrace being in the dark, rather than waiting for the ideal becoming, when things are settled and life is perfect. You have been planted. Time to bloom.