Let’s just admit it right up front, my 2016 has continued to be closer to chaos than perfection. I feel we do too much. Does anyone else feel like this? Actually, the feeling I get from my immediate universe is that pretty much all of us feel we do this. We are tired and busy more often than we are not those things – even me, though I hate “tired and busy” as an answer to “how are you doing” so much that I consider it a part of my life’s purpose to usually not have to say that. I truly believe we should avoid busy at all costs, mean every thing we commit to, and unregretfully say no to everything else. It’s a mission statement, not a resume. All I can really say is, I’m working on it.
With that intention not quite being met lately, my days and nights are blurring. I am way too relieved when Friday comes. I pray on the way to work that I would please for the love of all I find meaningful, not miss life while I’m living it. Because sometimes it feels like that, like I’m missing it. As in, “there’s a gorgeous thing on the side of the road, Mom, and you’re missing it.” Fortunately, along with that desperate prayer, life has its own way of centering us occasionally.
Life’s way of pointing us north is often painful. We get sick, and the truly important comes screaming to the forefront. We lose someone we care about and are suddenly given time to reflect on what we want our own short life to be. Or we lose someone we had built everything around and have to ask, what now? Those are life’s gentle (painful, almost unbearable until they’re past) reminders. I experienced this every time I faced cancer. I re-visit the feeling every time I have a check-up. And sometimes, I get the reminder without the hard parts.
On Tuesday night, February 9, our school and community came together for Pink Out night. At the half time of each of our varsity basketball games, the dance team did a routine to Christina Aguilera’s Fighter, while cancer survivors walked between them holding signs about how long we have been kicking cancer A. The night was feely and powerful and stuffed with togetherness, and it shot me straight back to perspective. I felt all my old philosophies returning, as Anne might say. (Didn’t Anne say this, Katie? Help me out. My Anne books are in storage while we’re renting. I miss them so much I could cry.) Because of this night and its reminder, unimportant stressors slipped away. It was so flipping awesome to be alive.
The Sunday before that special night, I walked straight from my chaotic life into the school gym with several fellow survivors to rehearse our march through the dancers. The organizer of the event came to rehearsal with us. She brought the big, white boards on Tuesday night so we could write on them. She filled in the edges with “I am a” and “Survivor” for us to fill in the middle with our years. She sent personal invitations to more than 90 survivors, made a banner on the bleachers, stayed for both games, and told us again and again that we were special, we were fighters, we were an inspiration. She wasn’t the only one who made the night possible, and I felt so grateful that they had chosen this.
I believe in protecting our schedules and saying no and not doing too much and keeping at least some of our evenings and weekends free so we can recover from all the chaos. So I noticed when people created work for themselves in order to make that night possible for me. It meant the world that they were so selfless with their Sunday afternoon and their Tuesday night and whatever nights and afternoons they gave to the preparations. Those are precious hours, and they gave them to us.
This night was an anchor in my year. I’ve started to see my years this way, with anchors, something to tie them down in my memory and mark one emotional season from the next. I am so grateful for this particular anchor and for a gentle, beautiful return to perspective.