Monday, 21 December 2015

Getting - And Giving - At Christmas

Seek and ye shall find? Or whine and ye shall be reminded why your life and every breath in it is a gift?

I was sincerely out of Christmas Spirit today—hell, I could barely scrape up a smile that didn’t look like a sneer, much less any sort of goodwill to my fellow man. I felt put-upon, undervalued, invalidated and then, to top it off, I felt deeply insulted and a whole bunch affronted.

Oh woe-is-freakin’-me. Someone please cue the violins.

Life—or, maybe more accurately, this effervescent thing we call Spirit—has a way of executing a wake-up call just when we’re drowning in the stench of our own pathetic pity pit, don’t you think? And when the Spirit speaks, it rarely—for me, anyway—takes the form of a candy cane, a gingerbread man or a lit up Christmas tree. Just when I think I have become as caustic and cynical as I can possibly get, The Spirit always seems to bitch-slap me with silence…and it is then, upon some inwardly/outwardly driven reflection, that I come face-to-face with true giving and getting, and what they feel like when they touch the heart.

Such as…

Getting:  A text message first thing this morning from a friend whose loved one has suddenly landed—and will remain—in the hospital for Christmas…meaning that she will now be celebrating (if we can call it that) there too. We swapped messages all morning, then shared a phone call late this afternoon as she was traversing the QEII to head home, wrap up work and plans and life before traveling back to the Hospital, several hours north on the highway, where Christmas won’t smell like stuffing and gingerbread and spruce trees but instead like antiseptic and boiled & bland cafeteria offerings.  We discussed her concerns. Fears. Possible solutions. And it was a gift, I think, for both of us; to recognize that our age and stage creates so many similar circumstances, worries, questions-with-no-answers and, thank God, absurdities that we can at last collapse in laughter over.

Because life is serious. But it’s so damn ridiculous sometimes, too. And laughing is a gift that feels good.

Giving: A little container of peanut butter balls and eggnog fudge to the Edson Friendship Centre because as simple as it may sound, it is the highlight of my day to work out in their gym—where I am greeted by happy smiles, and enveloped by a kind and welcoming mojo I have felt at EFC ever since I was a brand new social worker some 20-odd years ago.

I am so grateful there are still places in this world that you just know, intuitively, are pure-of-heart.

Getting: A picture posted on my facebook wall of my novel for sale in a retail shop in eastern Alberta. My sales are slow and my marketing has been a process akin to climbing up Everest (with no Sherpa in sight) yet to hear my friend tell me she felt “so proud” to see my book on sale in a store flooded tears into my eyes.

I’ve been given the gift of my novel in print, something so very many talented writers, by virtue of a subjective business, may never see. I am grateful—and humbled—by this profound, thrilling experience.

Giving: My time to my 12 year old who came to the gym with me today (here we are when she conquered her first triathalon)

There will soon come a time when it is no longer cool to work out (or go anywhere, really) with Mom, but for now she is my shadow, and everything I do seems to be something she holds in far higher regard than it deserves to be.

I’m my daughter’s role model. I think she deserves a little better than a sneering scrooge.

Getting: A girlfriend who, more accurately titled, is actually the soul-sister the Spirit gave me more than a decade ago. She is my confidant, my litmus test, and, thankfully, she is often also my conscience. (Because I can assure you I need one more often than not). When life gets a little too ridiculous or crazy, or insulting, I can always count on her to listen, redirect, and pull my humor up from the depths of the pit it has fallen in.  I don’t know what I’d do without her, and it hurts too much to imagine my life without her in it—so I won’t.

In a life spent in loneliness by far, far too many people, my circle may be teeny-tiny…but the people in it are so much more amazing, and brilliant, talented and compassionate than any I deserve. I love them all with every cell of my heart.

Is it too cheesy to end with a meditation? Mind if I do anyway?

Today I was bitter and hateful and cynical and fed up. I felt forsaken and used and judged harshly. And then….

And then silence, and within it sounds slowly resonated and I heard—

Voices as familiar as my favorite songs.

Laughter that sounded the way being young used to feel.

Rock and roll in my ears and the whirr of the bike spinning beneath my feet as I sweat and catch the eye of my youngest, pounding out stress and energy and life on the treadmill and then…

And then silence again, and within it the deep, soundless resonance of being grateful for getting. For giving.

For being aware of both in a way that allows me to say "Amen".

And "Peace".


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  2. Makes me want to toss a few colored stones into a jar ;)

    1. Ha! Sounds like you've read Divinity & The Python. Sometimes I'm very sure I need to adopt more of Shaynie Gavin's meditative practices.... ;)