“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.” – Brené Brown
This is life, currently.
The boys and I sit around on the living room couches waiting for friends to come for a visit. They gaze out the window, watching, waiting. All of a sudden we see the first snowflakes falling. The scene is pure delight, and we jump around the room in excitement singing Christmas carols off-tune and not minding one bit.
My husband and I just spent a night away with a our closest friends. The cottage sat on a cliff at the edge of the ocean. The wind howled, the house creaked, the white caps rolled and crashed, the fire in the wood stove blazed. And we sat, and sat, and sat. There are very few people in this world you can do that much sitting with (even when there’s chocolate and wine and prosciutto and five types of cheese). But these friends are those people. The ones with whom you can experience what the Italians call “Dolce far Niente” (“the sweetness of doing nothing”). And sweet it was.
Dallas wants to play Go Fish almost every day. As the rain pours outside he runs downstairs to get the cards, one deck for us and the other for his brother. We sit on the couch with our pairs of kings and queens arranged around us, occasionally having to retrieve the ones my youngest has snatched for his own use. Bing Crosby and the Vince Guaraldi Trio play softly in the background. I gaze outside at the wet streets glistening under the street lights, this is the good stuff. We bake cookies and sit down at the table to eat them, melted chocolate splotched across our fingers and lips and not minding one bit.
I think about how all of these small moments that make up my life, not the extraordinary but the absolutely ordinary, are exactly where I find joy and peace and love. Celebrating these moments is my road to fulfillment. And it’s not about everything going seamlessly (because it never does). The conversation will lull, the cookies will burn, the kids will start to fight (always), I will disappoint myself in one way or another.
But love can survive all of this; it does not need perfection to exist. Love asks just a few things of me: show up, engage, pay attention. Be grateful.
I used to be too scared to really enjoy the good things that presented themselves in my life. I worried about what would be stolen from me, or what would go wrong. I believed that if I expected the worst, if I refused to fully embrace happiness, then I could never be disappointed. Negativity was my armour that shielded me from pain. But this also blocked my heart from beauty.
Yes, opening yourself up to love — to life — is opening yourself up to the possibility of brokenness. The possibility of rejection. The possibility of failing.
But opening yourself up to life is opening yourself up to the another possibility — the possibility of complete and utter joy.
That’s what I am after. So I’m going to keep showing up (imperfectly) and trying to be present in each moment, and keep whispering a prayer of thanks every time I remember.
These are the only things I have to give. And it turns out they’re not nothing, they are actually everything.