Friday, May 7, 2010

Messy Life

Lately I've been thinking about how messy life is, for everyone.

Maybe it's because my sweet girl moved home from college this week and her stuff is EVERYWHERE, only because there's no place to put it except the attic, and I'm scared to go in there. Remember the scene from Star Wars where the gang falls in the huge trash compactor and some kind of garbage squid-monster pulls Luke under, and then the walls start closing in? That's my attic. Plus it's already at least 110 degrees in there, and I'm a wimp.
So I think for now we'll be content to have a microwave by the fireplace. At least we can make s'mores without heating up the living room.

The shoe tree by the piano, however, is not quite as useful.


So, back to the larger subject at hand...
I once taught school with a fine lady who had this quote hanging above her chalkboard:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

At the time, I thought it was a perfect message for teenagers. After all, who else is fighting harder in life, battling to figure out what they want their lives to be about, what they'll speak up for and what they'll let slide, when they'll choose to summon the courage to go against the flow, and when they'll just close their eyes, shush that inner voice, and let life happen? Even the happiest teen is in a messy struggle, and their bodies and changing faces show it.

But lately I'm thinking Plato was right. His words really apply to everyone. I might just need to paint that quote on my living room wall, hang it at the food court at the mall, plaster it across the Town Hall, and hire an airplane to fly the message all over South Carolina and the world.
Everybody is fighting a battle of some kind.

It seems like lately I see the messiness of battles everywhere I go.
Moms and Dads watching their children struggle, unable to relieve their pain or solve their problems for them. Or the battle of want-to-be parents, positively dying to birth the children they already love, feeling the stab every time they see a baby. People who feel alone, invisible. Men and women trapped in the busyness of life, and others who long for the busyness our society requires to be considered a worthwhile person.

Being friends with several writers like myself, I see a lot of messiness. It's a messy business, involving great, seemingly unending periods of waiting. Waiting, which allows you plenty of time to question everything about yourself, your skill, your purpose in life. You wait to hear if your work (in other words, you?) is okay and acceptable. You wait, hoping that the part of your heart that you sent to them for their approval will be allowed to sing in public, rather than throb in your desk drawer. The trick, for me at least, is to use that waiting time to find both meaning outside of work and meaningful work. But still, it's a struggle. Some days I'm better at it than others.

Everyone is fighting a battle. Even the people I think are perfect.
I've always envied one particular friend of mine. She grew up knowing she wanted to be a doctor, and by golly, she did it. She has a wonderful practice and teaches at a med school as well. When we were college roommates, she had a long line of would-be suitors, and I remember one kneeling beside her as we put on our running shoes to go for a jog. "Gosh, even your teeth are perfect!" he said, gazing into her eyes.
I nearly gagged and had to leave the room before I bopped him on the head.
My friend lives a wonderful life, but I'm sure it hasn't been without times of personal pain and struggle and messiness.

Plato, was so right. Kindness (and love) is the answer.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. What struggles are you seeing over and over where you are? What acts of kindness? Have you caught those commercials where one act of kindness /goodness leads to another and then another? I'd post one, but I can't remember what product the commercial is advertising! (I guess I'm struggling with memory too!)
Lately it makes me really happy to see people being kind to cashiers. Dealing with the public is such a hard job, and it's fun to see kindness spread.

Have a great weekend, y'all!
Love, Becky

PS. That quote reminds me of another, from The Message.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.


Emily said...


I read your blog and am often touched by your observations. Your timing of this post is remarkable. Thank you for being brave enough to point out such emotional truths!

Jenny said...

Oh, woman you are hitting me on all points...not literally, of course, but truth and images wise, I mean. We seem to be on the same pop culture wavelength...'cause I "get" all your examples and references...anyway. Plato's quote is very Philippians chapter two of him and I love it. Just so recently in my life I have heard of two dear couples, who married young, and immediately had families, questioning and doubting their marriages and it has put a knot in my tummy. And in my little pea brain I want to "blame" and assume who is to blame, when that is not what is required of me. I don't know their battles as a couple or individually and can only be armed with Prayer, Love and Kindness to all involved. Thanks for the heads up.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What a good reminder. I need to remember that everyone has their battles--often private. And kindness is our best defense against spreading the bad mojo around. I am always kind to people in stores, restaurants and other drivers. I try to smile whenever people make eye contact with me. But this mantra belongs further forward in my consciousness!

CC said...

What a poignant quote. That Plato was a smart guy!

So many of those battles are ones I've faced or am facing. Don't forget disability and pain (emotionally and physically) in those battles!

Amazing post.

Rosemary said...

Lucky for me, I'm not seeing those battles around me. I really feel for those who are.
Now for your messy room, it doesn't matter, since your daughter is home now. How nice!
Happy Mother's Day!

CC said...

I felt so inspired by this quote and your post that I added the quote to my sidebar. And changed my "about me" to be more accurate as well....

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Love that quote!

My English high school teacher once challenged us to show compassion and tolerance toward that store clerk we may come across who seems testy and rude. "Maybe she's just having a really really bad day and she just needs a break," she said.

I never forgot my teacher's words. I even wrote her a thank you email a few years ago lol.

OMG, don't even get me started on how rotten people can
be to cashiers. I've been stewing over this
lately. Can't believe some of the rudeness i've come across.

Barb said...

Hi Becky,

I have missed stopping by on a regular basis.
You post was very timely. Life is messy and we all have problems. How we deal with those problems makes all the difference.

Big hugs,

P.S. Happy Mother's Day

judy in ky said...

That Star Wars scene really gave me the heebie jeebies!
I always smile and treat nicely the people who have to deal with the public. Usually, I get a pleasant response. It makes life much more enjoyable.

Angie Muresan said...

I believe so too. Kindness and love are the answer. Happy Mother's Day, Becky!

Natalie said...

Thank you.
Once again you gave me something I need, but didn't ask for, something I want, but couldn't find, something I want to share.

Jen P said...

I feel like I just received a virtual hug. I struggle to always be kind and forgiving and patient, but I must try harder as a role model to my three, three and under, as they squabble and push up my blood pressure. Thanks Becky. Happy Mother's Day.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

I'm glad to hear the amens, y'all! :)
Life's messiness does seem to be universal. I'm thankful for friends like y'all and others who make such an effort to be kind!

Dawn said...

Our daughter came home from college two weeks ago. I finally took the day off friday to help her put stuff away! Thanks you for reminding me about battles. As an educator, I and everyone else is getting testy towards the end of the school year and it's easy to take offense at anything and everything.