Archive for April, 2008
My awesome writer-mom-of-four friend Melissa at Making Things Up tagged me for a meme to write a “six-word memoir.” Now, being the Having Enough gal, you’d think it would be easy to come up with a few pithy words to encapsulate my life.
But, alas, I’m late on this meme like my Odyssey book report in 10th grade because I just can’t seem to get my brain there. Rather than drag out the procrastination, though, I’ll just throw one out, and not worry about the grade:
Overachiever turns happy by letting go.
I got one of my ultimate joys yesterday — sitting in a restaurant with three old friends, us four grown women laughing so loudly that others in the restaurant looked at us. It puzzles me when people are annoyed by laughter. I simply love the sound. (Except when it is at someone else’s expense.) But, generally, a group of friends laughing, to me, is just beautiful, one of life’s great gifts.
And, this particular group laughing was especially poignant. One friend lost her husband less than two years ago. Another was recently diagnosed with MS. And, I was just awed, talking with these women, looking at these women, so strong and so connected and so alive despite their hard times. I felt privileged to be laughing with them, and to be learning from the way they are handling their situations. Laughter not as denial, but as a way to experience the spectrum of life’s emotions, not just give into one. As a way to face challenges with grace and perspective. As a way to get through scary stuff with people we trust.
As I drove the 50 minutes home from this brunch yesterday, I thought about how I could’ve talked with these women for many more hours, how we barely scratched the surface in our two-hour, yearly catch-up session. And I felt lucky for that, too. How fortunate to feel that way, that the time spent together felt short.
I’ve written here before about how none of my closest friends live close enough to come over for tea. How some of my standby friendships have been shifting, even disappearing, as our lives change. And, yet, how my female friendships feed my soul in a way I feel I’d starve without. So, in the spirit of Having Enough, rather than focusing on my hunger for old friends in my neighborhood, or the loss of friendships I cherished, I decided yesterday to just enjoy the two hours with some amazing old friends 50 miles up the road, enjoy the connection and the laughter, and quit lamenting that I don’t experience it more often these days.
Funny enough, too, in working on my Having Enough attitude lately, and just letting go of focusing on any lacking, I am finding myself slowly connecting with more women in my community. I’ve had some great moments lately with women I’m just getting to know. It takes time to know others well enough to be the loud, laughing group of grown women in the restaurant. It takes shared experiences. Openness. And great good fortune.
A toast, to the laughter of friends.
My daughter is obsessed with dandelions. She wants to pick dandelions daily. She collects them like priceless treasures. She wants me to make up stories about dandelions (which now also usually involve fairies that live among them).
She calls every flower a dandelion and every picture of a flower a dandelion. Not because she doesn’t have the verbal capacity to name other flowers (in fact, she can say “rhododendron” quite well), but because she loves the bright yellow flowers you can find anywhere and everywhere, and because they turn into wish-makers when they get old.
I know, they’re weeds. That’s what makes it even cooler. Her pure joy over a simple weed. It’s so Buddhist, so Thich Nhat Hanh. To see the wonder in a weed. Talk about having enough.
So, to celebrate the joy and beauty of simple flowers, and weeds that pop up to remind us of the real colors of life, here’s a little surprise for you. Just roll your mouse and click, and think of the thrill of a two-year-old over a dandelion.
Have you heard about the Last Lecture? It’s a thing universities do, where they invite popular professors to give a lecture as if it will be their last, giving sage advice from their experience, even if they are nowhere near the end of their career.
One physics professor was chosen to give the Last Lecture last year at Carnegie Mellon University, and found out sometime between his selection and the lecture day that he was dying of pancreatic cancer, at 49, with a wife and young children. He was told by doctors he had a few months of good health left.
This lecture, on his life lessons and achieving his dreams, has taken on a life of its own on the internet and beyond, and apparently ABC News is doing a special on the professor Wednesday night. (The text of the lecture is there, too.)
The bulk of his message? Follow your dreams. Think of others. Ask for what you want. Take feedback. Don’t give up. He considers his life a success, in large part because he followed his own unique path. Not everyone will share his particular dreams, but his lessons on how he achieved them are clearly resonating.
And, he is yet another person who reminds us that life is fleeting and we must embrace each day fully. Decide to be a Tigger not an Eyeore, he says. Keep a sense of humor. Learn. Love one another.
What would you say in your Last Lecture? Something to think about.
Thanks to my friend, Naomi, who sent me this powerful video that’s truly the essence of Having Enough. Please take a minute to watch; it’s short and well worth it.
If you are reading this, chances are you have not only enough but so much more than enough. If you want to help out the majority of the world’s citizens who don’t have enough (as in, live on less than two dollars a day), check out the End Poverty 2015 Campaign, part of the UN Millennium Goals.
It’s so hard to know where to start. Just wherever we are, I guess.
Thanks to Sharon for sending me this Salon.com article, which harkens back to the classic “Having Enough” discussion of how we define success and “enough” in an overachiever, uber-consumer culture.
The article is a Q&A with author Pamela Paul, as Salon describes:
“As the market for infant products grows ever more absurd, author Pamela Paul takes on $800 strollers, Gymboree and the bamboozle that is Baby Einstein.”
You get the idea. Challenging the “need” for all this crazy stuff (more, more, more) for our kids. Challenging the marketing machines and their “research” on what kids need. Challenging the values. Challenging the producers and consumers, and the choices we make.