A week before Thanksgiving I stood and chatted with someone I know only a little. We were talking about the upcoming holiday and she gave voice to a certain hesitancy. I should have been ____ she said. I should have been _____ by this time. I won’t say what it was because it feels too personal (and not mine) to reveal, but God, it stuck with me.
All of us with these invisible shoulds that we carry.
I hid in the bathroom twice on Thanksgiving Day, the weight of my own shoulds heavy and present.
Sometimes things are such that I feel like I can see the life I want, but I’m standing behind a glass window, my fingers pressed up against it, watching other people live that life.
Today in my email to Laura I wrote, “How does a person have faith in the face of so much...history? I suppose that’s the point--it’s a practice, an attempt. It’s the pursuit of a belief when so much seems to contradict it. This is all an attempt, and that’s okay. To act as if, even in the face of disbelief.”
The route I take to work is such that I walk east on 53rd for a stretch and often I see the same man walk his little girl from the lobby of their building to a bus just outside. He is slightly older than I imagine most fathers of ten-year-olds to be, and it seems as though she has different challenges than most children, but I am always--without fail--struck by their joy, by the levity with which they carry their load.
I seem them and my heart breaks open and I think, Lighter, Meg. Lighter.
Just before turning 30 I wrote the following: This is not the life I chose for myself. This is not the life I imagined or planned or dreamt of. But it's the life I have.
I got an email from someone saying they’d hoped I’d written that line by mistake because so much of what I write here has to do with choosing life. And I wrote back that I think those are two different things. I never heard back. I couldn’t have predicted this life at eight or eighteen or even twenty-six and I will not berate myself for a lack of prophecy. Life is often one blind-curve after another and that is beautiful and exciting and also just how it goes. This is not the life I chose for myself, no. But this is a life built on choices I’ve made and sheer dumb luck and quite a lot of things not-working-out. It is a lucky life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel the weight of the-shoulds-that-will-never-be. And yet I wouldn’t change a thing. Because, well...faith.