Thursday / April 28 / 2016
Broken crayons still color
I hear the word, ‘stain’ and immediately think, “uh oh! How will I get that out?” Embarrassed to leave it and allow it to mirror my life and what I’ve been up to, I’d rather flip cushions and scrub yoga tops than admit I’m less than perfect to a world that is — oh yeah, imperfect.
What if instead of scouring, I dared cherish my stains, mistakes and character imperfections the way I embrace my scars? On display, would my flaws offer hope to a red-faced someone else, who just spilled mustard on herself? How liberating would it be for both of us?
When I was 10 years old, my Grandpa lay in an Albany, New York hospital, dying of stomach cancer. My Mom’s Dad was the most tender man I’d ever known. I remember sharing time in their Loudonville home, feigning interest in a television program, all the while spying on Grandpa’s adoration for his wife. Sitting on their plush velour couch, he’d use his aged fingers to gently pet wisps of hair from her forehead and lace amorous circles of love on the back of her neck. Grandma lived 18 more years after he transitioned into his new adventure, never marrying; never dating. She had found such true, perfect love, she desired no other.
With Mom and Dad at the hospital by Grandpa’s side, I paced circles around the dining room table with fierce 10-year-old conviction. I refused to rest till I had ground a circular impression into the garnet berber carpet. It became my mission. My tenacity, I thought, would somehow prove how much I loved my grandfather. I wanted the world to know. I wanted the family to remark years later, “Wow, look at that worn carpet. Donna sure loved her grandfather.”
What do you do when transition is imminent; relational, occupational, death or otherwise? In my darkest times, I often hide behind smiles and words of encouragement toward others, convinced it will lessen the torment of my own demons; or perhaps, simply slow their approach.
They say life is so hard it brings death. I’m struck by that sentiment. Such negativity, beauty and honesty entwined in a perfect knot. Indeed, death is mandatory and in unpopular ways, can be an answer to healing. In the meantime, we fuddle our way through days and moments, wrestling with ‘what if’s, fantasizing utopia, relishing the touch of a loved one as they draw circles on our hearts.
Change is inevitable. Seems I’d know this by mid-life. Yet, I resist it. I like to pretend I’m advanced and progressive and welcome change. I type memes on my Facebook wall like: “FEAR: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise” as if I’m triumphant in what I choose. Change is difficult mostly because we overestimate the value of our current reality and underestimate the value of getting UNstuck from the place we no longer belong.
Life is hard. People will hurt you. Situations will bruise your ego, your heart, your paycheck. Once it’s done, it’s done and you’re forced to move on to do SOMEthing. But what?
I guess that’s the beauty. You hold the paintbrush to your life’s tapestry and can splash color on it any which way you choose. For me, I’m gonna make mine messy (she proclaims as if she can help it). And I’m definitely getting paint on the garnet berber carpet. I’m determined to make my mark on this world colorful, if nothing else. As former NFL wide receiver Trent Shelton shares, “We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same.”