I received two bolts of lightening once I hit the bottom of the last valley--and I'd like to share them both with you. A tad more serious than my standard fare, but my readership has dwindled to the people closest to me, and subsequently those who will love me just as much for writing serious matters of the heart. (I can't flood the bathroom at work every day, I'm sorry!)
My first bolt of lightening came by way of email. I'd written a quick plea to a friend, seeking a bit of advice and comfort. The response that she sent wasn't what I explicitly asked for, but rather a piece of sage wisdom I haven't stopped thinking about since:
it seems in this age of technology, our lives are transforming from slow burning, relational coals to 30 second highlight reels. we see the best and brightest through facebook, blogs, twitter, and so forth. we make instantaneous musical likes/dislikes from a few seconds off of itunes or the spin of the radio dial. how many people enjoy the previews of movies more than that movie itself? and more and more, i'm finding that this mentality is not solely applicable to our technological interactions. it's becoming a way of everyday life and increasingly a stained perspective as it spills over from how we make judgements to how we view ourselves in general. i'll admit that as i read friends blogs (especially couple's blogs) i can't help but to think "John and i need to do more, why can't we be more like them?" a virtual 'keeping up with the Jones'. i have to remind myself that this is just a glimpse into someone else's live - a few of the peaks congregated together making their life seem like a constant high point. missing are the average moments, the un-picture worthy moments that although undocumented, are still very much apart of their lives. i of course see those moments hundreds of times a day in my life to the point where it seems they far out weigh the peaks, obviously.Zap. I had to read it several times over the course of the next day or so to pan for all the gold nuggets. I've taken the advice to heart and have been mining for the small and insignificant acts that won't ever hit my blog or Twitter stream, but are imprinting themselves upon a happy heart.
lately, however, i've started to mentally log the moments that although would not make it in a facebook album, still indicate a great and satisfying life. driving with the windows down and the heater on, sitting at Rubios on dollar fish taco night with some friends laughing at a joke we took too far, chasing down a frisbee, watching Duel II with john and a rootbeer. i know you have as many of these moments as i do throughout the week and none of them seem to be anything outstanding, unique, or really obscure - they are just average moments that are good and that connect the dots - sometimes even outweighing the dots... i think being around people who can find the good in the ordinary or joy in the everyday is much more appealing than obscurity and i think you are a great example of this. it's easy to get down and feel like you are the only piece that is sitting still in some complex motor system with everything changing and soon there will be no use for you, but it just doesn't work like that. you can never be fully aware of just how needed you really are or how you affect others. but you can become irrelevant if you refuse to see yourself otherwise.
Barely a day after the email exchange above, my Visiting Teachers came over. They've been consistently coming on the last Wednesday of each month, 9:00 (my kind of visits!!). This is the first set of VTers who come regularly, and are actively involved in my life. I made the decision when they were assigned more than 9 months ago to be open and honest with them--and we've subsequently all felt engaged and committed to our relationship. I look up to and admire these women; they've challenged me many times to be better, and to do better. This month, I was expressing some of the high level drama of my month, but how I was certain I was coming out of it (thanks in part to the advice above). I may very well have had the same Visiting Teachers for the last 9 months for this next exchange alone--
"But look at what you have done this year Natalie! You decided you wanted to go to the temple, so you prepared and went. You decided you wanted to train for and run the Half Marathon, and did it. You decided you wanted to be a better scripture reader and are working on that. You've done so much this year in terms of bettering yourself!"
Zap. I'll be the first to admit that I've always shrugged my shoulders in church when they talk about being to hard on yourself. If anything, I feel like I'm probably not hard enough on myself. But in hindsight, maybe I need to give myself a break and cut myself some slack. Things haven't been perfect, but I've been making significant growth. I've never really considered myself a goal-maker, but it looks like 2009 might be the year I actually become an adult.
Don't think my life is a highlight reel, because I've cut out all the bloopers; believe me folks, there are more than enough to go around. The trick is to learn to squarely face them and then laugh. America's Funniest Home Video isn't an international sensation for nothing.
I willingly give myself a C+ for the organization of this article, it's no where near my finest. But this stuff has been rattling around in my brain for several days; and frankly, it's now or never. I feel like I need to write the thoughts down; maybe one day I'll rearrange, but for now, it's good enough. I'm good enough.