Ask me why I’m teaching myself to juggle and I can give you three reasons, just like that.
1. My dad can.
2. I want to have a party-trick in my back pocket, ready to bring out at a moment’s notice. Should I ever be on a game show in need of a stupid human trick? Should I ever get involved in a game of two truths and a lie? Would you ever believe it? I’m a fantastic juggler.
3. What rings most true though, is this: Simple Avoidance. When there’s a house full of boxes to be packed, a body full of big feelings to feel, why feel those when instead you could be in your driveway tossing some bean bags in circles as high as the sky? Which one sounds more fun to you?
So I go to my driveway and practice juggling, I get out some nightstands that need painting, I sit in the driveway and trace the girls’ bodies, ready to be filled in with color and pink-tinged chalk outfits.
I do anything I can.
It’s similar, actually, to the other week when I run into a friend and she asks how I’m doing.
“Oh me? I’m fine. We’re fine. You?”
Deflection, works every time. Avoid, deflect, next batter up.
Except for when it doesn’t because this friend, she knows women and the cost of walls built high and she knows me and she knows that our story right now is a few clicks away from fine so she presses a little more.
“No…” she laughs. “I want to know. Like, how are you really?”
I’m not sure why- it’s the same question she had just asked with the addition of one single word tacked on to the end- but that one single word changes it. I don’t want your song-and-dance, she seems to say, I don’t want your facade, I don’t want you to say what you think I want to hear, I want to know how you are.
She asks, she pursues. I apparently feel safe, tears spring instant.
“Well really? I think this is about how I’m doing,” as I point to my now-crying eyes. “Autopilot, keep it together, surface is calm and strong but the second I pause and think about how I’m really doing, I crumble. And who wants to crumble? So I avoid it all.”
She asks a few more questions, offers some thoughts of her own, says she wants to talk more- lunch maybe?
And we each move on to our next thing, go go go life seems to demand, but that little pause, that little question how are you really? stays with me.
I remember seven years ago, sitting in a living room with my girlfriends, five-week-old baby in my arms, sleepless and tired and no clue what I’m doing and nursing was hard and we were struggling but I didn’t know how to say any of it without feeling like a total failure and what-in-the-world-was-I-ever-thinking that I could take care of another human?
One of them, wiser, kind, on her third baby versus my first, looks at me with all of the I’m-with-you kindness a friend ever could and asks “So how’s it going? How’s your first baby going?”
Here’s where it changes, as she adds: “And if it’s not going well, you can say that too.”
Glory Hallelujah. My soul, one sleepless night away from breaking, is seen.
Liberation, one living room at a time.
Women who give each other freedom change lives, I tell you.
I think that we all feel our own degree of pain, of suffering, of this-is-just-too-much, of this-is-more-than-I-signed-up-for. I think that life is hard and it’s all hard and is it always going to be hard?
I think that we feel like we need to go it alone because surely the cost of letting someone actually see is too high.
But is it? Really?
What drives this? I’m not sure. Pride, sometimes? Fear, sometimes? Insecurity, sometimes?
And then, women step in as they always do and when we see nothing but a canyon, deep and large, they build a bridge to the other side and look back, saying “C’mon, it’s fine, I’m with you.”
As it turns out, women are the best. Girlfriends, sisters, neighbors, mothers, we all mother each other, really.
Build up those walls, my heart wants to shout- protect, defend, deflect. Us? We’re fine. You?
But then I remember that thing I read about freedom: Free people serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.
I think that we need each other more than we’re willing to admit and of course it all comes back to love. I give you love when you need it, get a little bit of yours when I need it, the cycle continues, freedom grows.
I think we can all agree that we want the world to be a better place. Enough with the brokenness, the pain, the disconnection.
Big feelings mean big fixes, yes?
Most of the time, restoration begins much smaller than that.
The woman who asks how are you doing, really; the friend who says and if it’s not going well, you can say that too; the neighbor who crosses the street from her driveway to ours, building a bridge of her own.
We need each other, we need each other, we need each other.
As it turns out, we tend to complicate matters but really, all it takes is a little I’m-with-you-kindness.
And I think we’ll feel a little freer than we did yesterday.
Liberation + love, found in the smallest of movements- but always toward each other.
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