Lost Causes

For the longest time, I saw myself as a lost cause when it came to living the right way, the way I thought I should. And it’s fair to say that some may see how I live as lost. But the lost little girl in the woods isn’t lost at all. Instead, she’s on a path known only to her and her maker. See, she’s lost sight of that path before because she listened to others.

Some pushed her onto a path in a misguided, albeit well-intentioned, way, thinking their path was the one and only way to travel. Others obscured the path entirely. The little girl chose to chat with these proverbial wolves for curiosity and the mere thrill of dancing with danger.

But what’s a cause if not an intangible thing of its own, often lost in the woods by those very people who pursue it, fight for it, die for it? I think losing a cause isn’t the worst thing ever to happen; if that internal struggle is for something personal, something grander than we previously dreamed, it was always worth it. Enough with the fairytale metaphors, right?

Sure, I might be the little girl in the woods. And I’ve certainly been incapable of seeing the forest for the trees before me, yet still, I wandered. And that’s the thing; persistence is in my blood. It’s a family thing brought up from the resilience and obstinance of generations past and modeled by their children (my parents). I grew up thinking that fighting for a cause, no matter how small, was the best and only way. The never-back-down mindset was, and still is, something I firmly believe in.

I grew up thinking that fighting for a cause, no matter how small, was the best and only way. The never-back-down mindset was, and still is, something I firmly believe in.

As I’ve “matured,” I’ve come to grasp how exhausting fighting for lost causes can be. If you’re so caught up in the fight, you might not even recognize you’ve already lost it. Or, at the very least, you’ve lost sight of what you’re even trying for. Although exerting all of that energy, demonstrating resilience and perseverance are admirable, they’re not the end. Life itself is a grind, a slow burn, something we’ve got to learn to take our time with.

I’ve already written about stopping in the garden of life, smelling roses, and nurturing what we’ve got. I’ve touched on embracing change and accepting what’s beyond our control. But haven’t touched on is making peace with our lost causes, grieving failures and mistakes, and, most importantly, how to move on from them. That’s what I’m addressing today because it’s one of the most important things we have to do as we grow up. Adulting successfully means finding ways to cope with regrets and our losses when we make tough decisions.

If you have the faith to live by your choices (regrets and all), then you’re doing something right. I’m not talking about bravado, but authentic courage born of sincere vulnerability. The kind you can’t fake until you make it. The kind you have to bust your ass for, swallow your pride, and face the wibbly-wobbly butterflies in your gut.

Serpentine maneuvers

Back in August, I mentioned what keeps life together. The glitter and glue in the cracks and crevices of ourselves are made of a thousand little things. These little things are moments, deep breaths (in and out), tears of joy and laughter, and every sideways glance of frustration, disappointment, and surprise.

It’s funny to me how we most often wish peaceful rest for the dead alone. Somewhere, we acknowledge that life isn’t about resting or settling into the same old things. But who’s to say we don’t deserve a working peace, the kind that demands patient intention every day?

I suppose some of us understand daily grind and hustle when fighting inner demons like addiction, suicidality, and the heaviest of depressions. But not every part of life is momentous. And, as I champion for significance in the smaller things, I can’t help overlook my struggle to make peace with past mistakes and current vexations.

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about family. With the myriad holidays on the horizon, certain expectations and disappointments are inevitable. But not every get-together and catch-up need to be a whole affair. Instead, little gestures like helping someone move into a new house or even a quick phone call on a birthday mean the world. It’s about taking that time out of our seemingly important daily for those little things that make all the difference.

For the longest time, I buried my head in the sand with “important” things. Although I love my friends, I love my family, and not taking the time to see them catch them up and include my life is just an excuse. I’m blessed to have a family who loves and cares as much as mine. And I’ve been such a child for not enjoying their gifts.

The same can be said for other parts of my life, too. For so long, I built up all these ideas in my head of what’s important (going off of many supposedly important paths). The problem with ideas is that they’re not real. And banking all your effort, energy, and intention on ideas leave you stuck.

The problem with ideas is that they’re not real. And banking all your effort, energy, and intention on ideas leaves you stuck.

Whether it’s working too much, partying too much, isolating too much, these are all excuses. The buffer between who we are and who we can be. They’re the bumpers in bowling lanes, the training wheels on bicycles, etc.

I look at the number of published blogs versus the drafts I have awaiting edit, proof, and release: 15 to 82. That’s a high ratio of incomplete, inactive potential. I wonder what catalyst(s) will cause me to consider these works “ready” for the world.

Last week’s therapy session was about flow states and feeling productive. It so often feels like I’m making no progress at all. So much of my life has been in what seemed like stop and start, up and down, slow and fast. I’d be crazy active, productive, healthy, et cetera for months at a time, and then I’d fall off. It would derail with an excuse or life event that often came out of nowhere.

One of the things I went to therapy for was intention. My faith and my God call me to live every moment with purpose. And I do truly mean every moment. Yeah, that’s exhausting, demanding, and impossible on my own. But if I want to participate in life fully, that’s how it is. It doesn’t make sense to live any other way to me.

The carefree life is, for me, that of the unattached, willfully ignorant, self-absorbed fool. Why anyone chooses to live this way is well beyond my understanding.

Back to therapy: that intentionality, that more than modern mindfulness, means paying attention to where I am in the here and now, anchored to every day, instead of getting caught up in idealist fantasies. That might be scary for some; it’s certainly intimidating, despite my willing embrace.

I compared this path of intention and progress to that of two snakes. One travels clearly and quickly across desert dunes. The other winds its way down, around, and across underbrush on a forested floor. Picture the ease with which the desert snake travels and the forest snake’s natural obstacles. I explained how the desert snake reached its singular focus with ease. The forest snake had to twist and turn, calculating each move, therefore moving slower, even with its natural agility.

Now, I may be a Slytherin, but I am by no means a serpent. Taking these metaphoric articulations as reality revealed something to me. The more challenging path means moving slower but also more intentionally. And if we travel the path of the forest snake in our own lives, taking the time to think before we move, to consider each new obstacle as a potential opportunity, we get the chance to live so much more. The clear and easy path is not the road to travel, any more than doing things the easy way.

My therapist put it another way: slow is fast; fast is slow. Each articulation of the snake’s spine naturally seamlessly glides into the next. On the outside, it appears simple. But underneath, there are hundreds of tiny bones working in unison with muscle and sinew. This is what is it to move through this life, balancing these parts in a harmony of intention, which often requires far more effort than it appears.

It’s been ages, but life moves on for all of us. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my ramblings. I write for you as much as for myself. If I’ve learned anything, the way I think helps people sometimes. Hopefully, this holds true for you.

If this is your first time here, thanks for checking out my facts and fictions. If you’re a long-time lover of my weird, thanks for returning. You can find past blogs on my homepage. Sign up for email if you don’t want to miss out on the next one (whenever it comes out).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s