Ya’ll know about my superstition of how you should never say things are going well out loud because it invites trouble. Ya’ll know my code words for LIFE IS SO GOOD RIGHT NOW are “Things could always be better”. Well, for a few beautiful weeks, things could always have been better. I knew it couldn’t last forever. But in my bliss I chose to tempt fate and say how good things were out loud. (Life being good doesn’t mean perfect or easy, because life is never that. But you know, when there is nothing catastrophic happening and your routine/schedule seems manageable and you actually enjoy the weather.)
The pro to having a smooth patch is that I regain my strength, I see the beauty all around me, I have capacity to reach out to others, and I can simply breathe easier. Seriously, breathing is easier. (There were a few weeks this summer where I would try to meditate but it was like I was exhaling and inhaling at the same time.) The cons to having those smooth patches are that I have no creativity. I try to write or paint or something and I just stare at it with nothing to get out. Also, and this is a big one, when things are going smoothly, you think “YES! This is what life is supposed to be like. This is normal.”
People say “When things calm down I’m going to ___.” or “When life gets back to normal…” I’m realizing that “normal” is actually quite rare. “Calm” is fleeting at best. “Normal” is what we tend to call the ideal. REAL normal is actually pretty hard.
A while back, I was moaning to Harmony about normal, and her genius son Colin said “At least you’re not in high school.”
I laughed. She laughed. Colin didn’t laugh.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on the top or the bottom of the social totem pole in high school. Its a rough few years for everybody. No one comes out unscathed. Colin’s lack of laughter gave me some instant humility and gratitude for where I am in life.
Sure, this stage of life is like running a marathon but never knowing what mile you’re on. But this stage of life has also given me blessings beyond what I ever dared to imagine.
So I’m going to attempt to define “normal” and “ideal” in my life the way they should accurately be defined. I’m going to stop expecting things to be ideal all of the time. I’m going to embrace that normal is full of unexpected expenses and illnesses, but also unexpected laughter and companionship and self-acceptance.
So many of us are on this quest for happiness, and yet forget that happiness doesn’t always feel happy. Sometimes happiness is trusting things will be okay. Sometimes happiness is a belly laugh after a really heavy day. Sometimes happiness is the satisfaction of knowing you did your best, even if it didn’t work out. Sometimes happiness is pausing amid a mundane task to notice how the light dances on the wall, or how the trees gently sway, or how the warm dishwater feels on your hands. Maybe happiness is the curve of a child’s cheek, or the smell of your clean laundry pile.
Happiness is tucked into every pocket of normal life, not just ideal life. And maaaaybe its even tucked into high school. (But I’m still glad I’m done with that crap.)