Sometimes, when it's dark and late and quiet and Drew has gone Vitruvian man across the bed and I'm squashed fetal between his knee and armpit, there are questions that keep me up.
Why do the on and off ramps for 93 and 95 crisscross so problematically and inexplicably? What civil engineer can I
DESTROY! maimwrite a strongly worded letter to for that mess? (North-of-Bostonians feel me on this one.)
Where did all of my bobby pins go?
Did I move to the front of my Zumba class prematurely, setting unrealistic expectations for my skill and will that redhead I blocked resent and mock me behind my back?
Where are you, Jonathan Taylor Thomas?
Should I alter my running route so as to confuse observant stalkers and predators?
Why male nipples? Why?
How do I follow last week's blog post? What if I've set the bar at 3,000 hits and am forced to spend the rest of my days as the chubby kid, jumping to touch it, always just out of my reach. And the readers all point and laugh and pelt me with dodgeballs? What if I lose all of my new followers in a wave of disappointment and disgust? What if I never get "discovered" by some dazzling literary agent and end up blogging until I'm 70 and future technology allows me to write it with my mind and I start to lose it and end up revealing all of my darkest secrets to the world wide web?
NEVER. I will take that poop story to my grave.
Luckily, the answer to that last string of questions came unanimously and separately from two of my favorite people:
Brian, my boy-genius pal, as I was exclaiming to him over all of the hits rolling in last week said (and I paraphrase his nerdy eloquence) "You didn't write for the hits. So don't write for the hits." Pure wisdom right there.
And my kooky old man friend, over our ritual of high waisted pants and too-sweet coffee, told me "Be your almost-loveable self." Did he want to rephrase that? No, he did not.
I tend to drown in what-ifs, as illustrated above. I spiral out into abstract panic and erroneous fear. I get lost in my crazy little mind. So here's what I've got this week. A little self-therapy. I'll let you in on the little pep talks I give myself - they have become more and more audible the longer I work from home.
Calm down, Clark! (Yes, I call myself by my maiden name when she's in trouble) Shut up! No you listen to- HEY, I SAID LISTEN - stop flailing! Ok, ok, shh, ok. Are you ready to listen? Okay, let's review:
1. Baby steps - I am a big picture person. As I've clearly illustrated, I can go from "My eye keeps twitching" to "What color spandex should I wear to complement my glass eye while I am walking to fund research for Ocular Melanomaaa!?" in about 14 seconds.
(Why you gotta play me like that, WebMD?)
For my own self-conscious benefit, I'll assume this is a tendency that plagues many 20-somethings. We're on the brink of so many life decisions that it's hard not to look around and compare and feel as though every decision is monumental in a domino-like way.That the rest of our lives need to be decided tomorrow.
The careers and the real estate and the relationships and the debt - there is so much pressure to perform that it's easy to not spiral out into, oh, just FOREVER.
When I come to Drew, fresh off of Mint.com or SallieMae.com or Realtor.com , with that crazy look in my eye and a wail of dismay on my lips (How have I not considered the implications of Private Mortgage Insurance!!?? Our future children will never taste vegetables!!!) He knows that it's time to employ the bobble head shake and to simply say "baby steps."
"If you take this job and hate it, you can always apply somewhere else."
"We can cut back on our date night budget (which, let's face it, should just be labeled "AND EVEN MORE BURRITOS") so we can pay more toward student loans."
"Your bangs will grow, now stop threatening to shave them off and rock a deep side part."
Take a deep breath. You're doing just fine. Tomorrow is not forever.
(And it's weird because I think I've heard someone else say something similar, but just can't recall where...something about tomorrow having enough trouble of its own...)
2. God is always good and I am always loved. - This is the big one and the difficult one and the one I'll spend the rest of my days muttering to myself. My spiral tugs me into worries that He's forgotten me, or that He is writing me a story of misery and sacrifice, or that He is simply just and mysterious, with no real promise of Goodness. I'll finally get a grasp on the fact that He loves me, but I'll just assume that He loves me in a vague, caretaker way - the way I care for my plants and make sure they get water every week or so, but if they shrivel and die, I'll just toss them off of my deck. Or I'll remember that He's a Good Father who wants to give good gifts, but I'll forget that -by some strange and tremendous rescue- I am deemed worthy of those gifts.
Most of my fears creep in when when I forget that He's good or when I forget I'm not a career builder or a debt-payer or a role model or a future homeowner but I'm always ever only Beloved. I repeat this to myself almost every day. To ground myself in my rescued identity and to beat back the fear and forgetfulness.
Because He promises that Goodness and Mercy will follow me all of my days. He reminded David that in any circumstance, he could say
NEVERTHELESS, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:23)
On early mornings like this, when I sit on my deck with my withered plants and sip my coffee and listen to the two fishermen dropping F-bombs in the street below, the questions that keep me up seem so small and laughable. I fit them right here into a blog post, how can they consume me? But I know that at some point today, I'll forget and fear, as I'm prone to do. And I'll break out these pep talks and start all over again.