Beloved’s friend John said that he doesn’t have to believe in something just because he can feel it, see it, or use it. John says it is possible to accept something in the moment but not really believe in it or have feelings about it one way or another.
John is recently out of the military after spending several years traveling and seeing things the average person would never see. John has done things that Beloved could never imagine.
They were talking about John’s adjustment to civilian life when John announced that he doesn’t believe in things and can still use them and relate to them. He said that he never believed in violence, even though he was a part of a group that used violence for good.
John doesn’t believe in love, not the kind to sustain a person, nor does he think things have to last for long. His life and experiences have taught him to accept things at face value as they happen. He also learned not to expect anything from anyone or any place.
He has learned to make the most out of living out of the moments, and he knows that he can find things temporarily and have that be okay. Of course, he believes life is temporary too.
I told Beloved that I find this all a bit sad and wondered if John would change what he believes as he welcomes civilian life more. Beloved just shook his head and gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. I wondered where things went wrong for John, or if he has seen something wiser than I could grasp.
“Just a wee surprise,” he said as he thrust the coffee into my hand. A smile played just there, at the corner of his mouth, making him look like a schoolboy.
I wasn’t really in the mood for a wee surprise. I wasn’t in the mood for much of anything other than the coffee he had provided. It is a bit unlike Beloved to do “wee surprises” so early in the morning.
However, I hate disappointing him, mostly if he has gone to such lengths to make something special. So after a few sips of coffee, I followed him off for the wee surprise.
The “wee” was a bit of an understatement since it involved a boat and a few days away from home. It also involved luggage, books, and a quick lesson on managing the ship. Thankfully the study was for him, and I was a casual observer.
Beloved had planned for us to spend a few days on a boat, relaxing while going along the river. The current and the map would guide us as we lazily made our way to the next stop of the journey, another small village known for textiles. We’d take the boat ride back to where we started and be home with lovely fabrics and experiences.
Everyone needs someone to be there when the chips fall to the floor. Hopefully, you don’t have the four-footed one because her idea of helping you is to eat the chips rather than console.
I didn’t drop chips on the floor today. Instead, I dropped my mug of coffee. The four-footed one is good about avoiding the broken pottery to get to the good stuff. To the four-footed one’s way of thinking, almost everything we eat or drink is going to be good stuff, even if she’s never tried it again.
Coffee is delicious to her, especially if it isn’t just a coffee, but a latte. Lattes have lovely creamy milk. Milk that she never gets to have unless it’s hit the floor, and she’s fast enough to lap it up.
So when the mug shattered on the floor, she quickly assessed the fastest and safest route to the coffee. She also determined how much she could consume before I could get her out of the kitchen.
The four-footed one is smart. She knows to watch how I move to see if it’s a good day or a bad day for me. Her first sign, it wasn’t a great day was the coffee on the floor. The second sign was how slow I was moving. She got more coffee than I wish she had, but she avoided getting hurt. She helped clean up as best she could.
When I was a child, I could spend all day lost in a book. I would find a comfortable place to settle in and pull out a book. I would read happily, lost in the story until it was time for lunch, or I had to heed the call of nature.
Once I dealt with that interruption, I would greedily return to my book and get lost until the next interruption.
This past-time is something that I wish I could still get lost in for the whole day, but now as an adult, there are things that need doing. It would seem there are always more things to do than there is time in the day.
I’ve come to realize that unless I make time for this past-time or any other hobby, I will never get to enjoy them. I am very good at overscheduling my time, and I’m pretty confident most people are the same as me in this aspect.
We look with envy at those who still do what they want, who even indulge in their habits. Is it irresponsible that their grass is left a few days after everyone else has mowed their lawns? Or are they wiser than the rest of us?
The problem with passion is that it knows no timelines. It also knows no limitations, nor does it know boundaries. Passion does not care for anything or about anything other than itself. It runs on its own energy, time, and meaning.
When you have passion, when you are consumed with that type of energy and meaning, anything is possible. Provided, of course, that what you are doing is where the passion lies.
Try to deny that passion, try to ignore it or hide it, and it becomes an annoyance that cannot be ignored. It must be brought to light; it must be given a chance to flourish, or it will consume you.
Perhaps that is why now I have failed to stretch or take time for myself lately. Maybe that is why I am at my desk too much and not out walking with the four-footed one as frequently as I should.
The problem with passion is that it is selfish. It doesn’t realize that you must have time for other things besides its needs and wants. So how do you keep the flame of passion up and burning while you try to have balance in your life? How do you keep yourself in check, keeping the passion project in place, while you still carry on with everything else? Or do you become consumed?
He was the boy I saw standing there, his head down, all that time ago. He was the boy I saw with the red eyes and the anguish radiating from him. That seems like a million years ago, and every now and then I see a glimpse of that boy still.
I didn’t need to know what the person on the other end of the phone had told him, to know it was bad news. I didn’t need to hear the words to know the wound was deep and wide. No amount of tea would heal this or help the hurt.
I also knew, in that moment, that he would walk a journey on his own as he needed to. I’d walk a road with him when he was ready, but until that point, he’d go it alone.
That’s the thing with grief, we can be there for each other, but no one can take the journey, walk the steps, or ask the healing questions except the one who is grieving. All the rest of us can do is be there to walk with them when they need us to, hold their hand when they are flailing for answers, or struggling to reach the distant shore.
Someone once told me that you should always start at the beginning. However, this person never told me where or how to find the beginning.
Some things are easy to find a beginning, such as the start of one’s school career. The start of a new year, on the first day of the first month, naturally. These have evident and apparent beginnings.
How do you start when the beginning of the thread is raveled with other pieces of string? What is the start or the end, for that matter, when both pieces look identical?
The thing is, all too often in my life, beginnings happen in middles as well as ends. Perhaps my life is just rather messy compared to others. I am frequently starting things while I’m working on other things. In my world, projects sort of look like tangled bowls of noodles, but somehow they always get untangled when I need them. This is how I find the starts and ends. That is to say, I find the start partway through a project and suddenly chase two projects at once.
This is why I can’t always find the beginning of something in my life. Nor exactly where the middle of the project is either.
Beloved was talking about taking his yearly goal and breaking them down to something more manageable. I suspect most successful people do this. They have plans by the hour or day or week and months and years. They probably readjust their goals as need be, alter their schedule, or rearrange this to do what’s most important.
These people are probably exceedingly organized, from when they wake up to when they fall asleep. I admire these people in some ways, while in other ways, I feel sorry for them.
The goals are lovely. They are how dreams become a reality. They may require belief and effort, hard work, and determination. And they also require an understanding that sometimes, no matter how hard you work, they elude you.
I can’t help but wonder what happens to spontaneity, though, when things are so regulated and set out. I mean, how do you just drop everything for a picnic or a walk along the water when you have such scheduled days. How do you allow for time for surprises, changes of plans, and frankly just stuff that you cannot control?
To me, not having time for any of this means you are missing out on the wonderful randomness that happens with life. I cannot imagine missing out on things that are spur of the moment. After all, some of the best things in my life have come from those moments.
A wise person once told me to make time for adventure at each moment you can in your life. When I first heard this, I laughed. After all, it sounded rather silly to me.
Age, experience, and acquired knowledge have taught me that this was wise words, indeed. Another way to look at it is the adage of all work, and no play makes for a dull being.
Life is short, too short to spend all your time in school, followed by even more time working towards a type fo end. No, you need to sprinkle in some fun and adventure along the way.
It’s a bit like how people talk about having a reason or purpose for their lives. If you don’t have a sense, if you don’t have a taste for the odd adventure, what do you have? You have a lot of time working, maybe a very stable sort of arrangement. You have predictability, routine, and the calm that comes with that.
We each find our sense of adventure, purpose, and meaning in life as we grow. To some, that adventure is taking a morning walk with the dog while it is jumping out of airplanes for others. It really doesn’t matter, as long as there is something.
He proudly informed me that he was born here, he was raised here, and here is where he will die. He told me it was destiny, and it wasn’t one he chose. Instead, it was always this way for him.
These were hard words, adult words spilling forth from the mouth of a twelve-year-old boy. I don’t know what was more shocking, his words, or the flat conviction in which he delivered them.
Where I come from, this child should be running around with his friends. Riding his bike around or playing basketball. But this isn’t where I came from; instead, I came here. And here, this little boy was already well on the way to being a man in a challenging culture.
The careless whimsy of my childhood stands in stark contrast to this world, to these children with guns and familiarity with violence. Beloved, though, could relate to having to grow up fast, hard, and knowing where his place was. He may have outgrown where he came from, Beloved may have been able to slip past the violence, but he understands this boy in a way that I cannot.
Dig deeper, and you can see that everyone who came from here knows that they are supposed to stay here, living a similar life to his family, and being okay with it. There is a pride, though, in knowing this already, I guess.