It’s an understatement to say that we live in crazy, or as a friend says, “fractured” times. I have learned to be objective about it all – from the players, to the choices, to the outcomes. I didn’t arrive here easily and I can still get exercised from time to time about the sheer lunacy of what I observe and some of what I have decided is a healthy curiosity about how and what others are seeing that is so radically different from what I see. In those random moments, I chalk it up to a very close-up rather than a wide-angle view of whatever the situation is, among other possibilities, which I will not even begin to waste my time or yours attempting to explain.
It is a lovely day here in the SE United States. Aside from the Russian spy ship way off the coast, it is a sunny, 75+ degree day in January! Yes, everything is totally crazy! I drove into town to pick up some groceries and on my way home noticed a car driving beside me in the left lane, music blaring, windows down…someone enjoying the lovely multi-sensory experience that a day like this in January allows.
I was instantly transported to a very early time in my life when I did that. It was as if the music I chose would define me or at least let others know what I liked. Hair blowing in the breeze, I wanted to be seen, appreciated and hoped that the right guy might find it all interesting enough to try to find out who that girl was…except I was driving an old Ford LTD Country Squire wagon. Yep, real interesting. Hey, we all do what we can, right? It all brought a smile of appreciation to my face. I’ve come a very long way from then to now.
Then, I seemed to jump ahead to the period of time in my life when my children were teenagers and I was working. I had my hair highlighted with a soft blonde fairly regularly – about two to three times a year. It was a soft enough color that it could grow for a while – four months or so – before it was time to schedule another appointment. I also had my nails done regularly – every three to four weeks (gel nails…they could grow a while, too, before needing to be re-done). The story that I told myself about all of it was pretty shocking for the me of today. I felt I had to “look the part” of an executive. I talk with my hands…so they HAD to look good. Nothing flashy, just a clean french manicure look. And make-up? well, that was expensive too. Couldn’t be a pale face…
As I returned to the present time and considered the me that I see every day, I saw how clearly I so easily bought into the idea that I had to behave a certain way to be seen, appreciated or loved and I had to look a certain way to be accepted and taken seriously. I am still moved by reflecting on just how powerfully I fell into the societal expectations – some spoken and others assumed by observing others and how I kept trying to be what I thought I was supposed to be. The stories I created for myself about all of this were pretty convincing and kept me at the effect of it all for a number of years.
I am aware that there are others who never bought into all of that, and they were the happy outliers. I have always been a “late comer to the party”, if you will, including apparently my own.
I recently happened upon a poem that really brought all of this home.
As a child
I was told and believed
that there was a treasure
buried beneath every rainbow.
I believed it so much that
I have been unsuccessfully
most of my life.
I wonder why
no one ever told me
that the rainbow
and the treasure
― Gerald G. Jampolsky, MD
Our rainbows and our treasures are indeed within. They are colorful, beautiful, abundant and rich. Each of us is all of that. It is not outside of us. Learning that idea; embracing that concept; and feeling my way into the heart of me, has brought me great joy. Learning to accept life as it is right now, in this very moment, in this very place, can be difficult. For our stories can make us feel anything but joyful.
Today, I love my gray hair. I appreciate my heart and believe it shines even more brightly now. I have realized over the years that my heart was always leading me. I gave, I supported, I cared for and I loved…genuinely and often at my expense. Today. I still give, care for, and love, genuinely…and I begin with me. When I am heathy, I am stronger; when I am rested, I am clear minded. When I allow myself essential quiet, my heart is open…and I listen and hear more deeply.
We start from where we start – often before we arrive.
We learn what we learn – or we don’t. It’s always a choice.
Today, I reflect on all of this…and so much more, and I know that all of my choices have brought me to where I am right now.
On our evolutionary journey, let us learn to love all of our experiences – the painful and ugly, the joyful and lovely. May we all find our rainbow within, and the treasure buried beneath it.