Not so long ago, I had come to a place in my life where I was “in the catbird seat,” as James Thurber wrote.
I was at a near-perfect place of being able to do each day something that was a confluence of where most of my talents, experience, education and beliefs met. Isn’t that what we all want, to be able to live each day out of our deepest hearts?
Alas, much to my crestfallen self, the situation turned out to not be a healthy place for me. And maybe I was not a good place for it?
I have been mulling things over. There are so many things to think and say. I’ve been so angry. I’ve been the kind of angry that requires attention and action, the kind that rots your soul if you let it.
What it boils down to is that I finally knew what I wanted. I wanted it with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. And I didn’t get what I wanted.
The most maddening part about it is that what I wanted was a good thing. I should be able to do the good things I want to do, right? But no, that is not God’s economy. That is not the true life.
The whiny little voice says, “I didn’t get what I wanted and what I wanted was a good thing.”
Even though I very much believe in free will, I see how very little we actually have a choice of in this life. I see now that the choices that we have that are actually ours are only concerned with the type of person we are choosing to become.
The truth is that we don’t always get to do what we want, even if we have determined to want a good thing.
And we want so much to believe otherwise, that we have control. But who hasn’t experienced something that they would give anything to change? That breakup, that death, that disease, that firing, that baby who was born too early to be healthy or who was not born at all.
The only good we are able to do is the good that presents itself before us in the moment.
So I don’t get to do what I wanted, but I get to help out a friend that has no money. I get to dress my niece, who is multiply disabled and take her to Botanica where she enjoys the fountains. I get to feed a dog whose owner is out of town. I get to watch my grandma sleep. I get to mow a lawn.
There is so very little we get to choose in this life—it is only to a slight extent that we get to choose our jobs. We can’t choose who will love us and who won’t. We can’t choose most of our circumstances. We can’t always choose to be safe, or from whence our safety will come.
We can’t even necessarily choose what good we will do when we have determined to do good.
We have to take what comes.
And sometimes what comes is so beautiful, like the generosity and soul-sustaining kindness of family and friends.
Like Warren saying, “I get to watch over you.” Like the sweet boy who loved my Raggedy Ann and took her home to live with him. Like a handsome man opening a car door for me on my ugliest day.
I have to let go of my intentions, even the good ones.
I have to take what is given. I have to do the good that is in front of me to do.
This is all there is—this is the life I am given.
It will be much harder and more beautiful than I expect and all I can do is to enter in.
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Assistant Ed: Laura Ashworth/Ed: Bryonie Wise