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Archive for April, 2012

I’m thinking a lot about changes. And not just the physical kind, but the way life changes.

My fiance and I both wrote drafts of our desired invite list for our wedding. I was somewhat horrified when my guest list – just mine! by myself! – reached 188. Of course, I am thrilled to have so much love in my life; I don’t know how to handle it all at one event though.

I’ve heard stories about cutting down guest lists, how brutal it is, and looking at my first-draft list, at friends and family from all over the country, I found myself asking painful questions: Who don’t I see that often anymore? And why? Is it because we’ve grown apart? Or is it just distance?

There are some people that no amount of time or distance really changes our relationship. People, like my best friend in New York or my cousins, who just belong to me and I to them. There are also those with whom, even when a lot of time elapses, when I see them again, we just pick up right where we left off.

But sometimes it’s not like that. Sometimes people feel really close and dear, and I think that even with time and distance, nothing can change between us. But then they do. Like the friend I worked saw daily for years, whom I would have asked to be in my wedding party if I’d gotten married a decade ago, who now I’ve spoken to only once (via g-chat) in the past half dozen years. I didn’t even know she was married until the pictures showed up on Facebook.

Things change, and there’s not much to be done about it. I used to think that I could control everything if I just tried hard enough, gave enough of my energy to containing it all. Life is ever changing, and it’s helpful to be able to acknowledge and accept that truth. But for years, I denied it even was true; I just held on tighter. Which obviously made me crazy. And then there were the things I could control – like what I ate and how much I exercised. They felt the most uncontrollable, whereas the relationships I had to other people were things I felt like I could wrangle, if I just tried hard enough.

It turns out the opposite is true. I cannot control people or events, but I can control how I choose to live each day. It’s a practice in being present, and as straightforward as it is, it feels harder than obsessive thinking about an abstract future that I might have the power to control if I just devote all my energy to it. Maybe it’s because I wish I could control the world. I do wish I could make it so that everything unfolded like a very happy, compelling story. I wish people never disappointed each other, and particularly me. I wish only good things happened, and the narrative arc always shot upwards on a clearly defined course.

But life is too many stories to create an easy narrative arc, and it’s only mine to live – not own. If I am to live it well, I have to accept the things I cannot change – people, mostly, but also, sometimes circumstance – and focus on what I can affect. Because I can have enormous sway over myself – how well I treat myself, how kind I am to my body, to my heart. How I use my energy, how I treat the people. How I fill my days and how I participate in them.

The more I do this, the better I treat the one person I know will always be there, will always stay my close companion and friend: myself.

 

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