hard words today and hard words tomorrow

June 12, 2010

Emerson writes that one should, "Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what
tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today."

Sometimes I'm aware that you catch me mid-stride. Further, I'm aware that we all catch each other mid stride. This feels one way, that feels another - tomorrow, perhaps, is a new bend in the road, and it looks different. 

I know that I often speak out of emotion, mixed with conviction. Other days, conviction changes and then returns. I know some might read this and bring down the gauntlet on my process. But you're, really, not the reader I'm looking for. Just last week, a dear friend said, "I relate to you in so many ways." Last night, outside the fountains in the Town Square in Long Beach, another said, "I'm where you are. Thanks for making me feel like I can be." 

I believe that's what writing is for - not for the people that read and scratch their foreheads. It's for the "aha!" moments, the people that write a quiet - "you put my feelings into words" later that week. It's for the people thought they were alone.

Last night, we picked up a lost girl wandering around the parking lot, blocks away from where she parked her car. After watching, "The Killers," I was worried she might whip out a glock and blow my friend and I to smithereens, but we decided to take a chance on her when looked at us, worried, and asked if we knew where In-N-Out was. "I can't find my car," she said. My friend touched my arm as she walked away, and said, "Shan...". 

I nodded, "Hey! Do you need a ride?"

She hesitated, shook her head, and then nodded and said yes. Three terrible navigators and four parking lots later, we found the all-familiar palm tree X, and let her off. 

The middle of a story. 

I wondered, as we drove away and left her, searching, outside our favorite fast food stop, what her story was. We caught three minutes, a drop in the bucket - a few words about being, "terrible with directions." Nervous laughter. 

I don't even know her name. 

Blow it up - larger scale. You and I have a conversation. Lapse in time. Conversation number two. Then conversation number five is in the middle of a different place, at a different time, and things feel different, or, better yet, they are different. 

I remember this happening with a friend doubting a relationship she was in. We had a deep conversation about her doubts, and I supported them. Five months later, and she was texting me about her wedding date.

She's happily, happily married. I drug my feet for a time, wondering about her doubts, wanting to bring them back up, dig them back up, ask to be filled in on the details. Something, deeper in me than curiosity, reminded me that it wasn't my story.

Andree Seu puts it this way,

"You have a story with God, with its own plot development, and recurring themes and tension points. No one knows your story like you and God know it. Sometimes other people, who see only five minutes of your story, get annoyed with you, and don’t understand why you are the way you are. They fail to consider that they are catching you in the middle of your story and that God is working something out between the two of you that takes time to accomplish."

I was tempted to be black and white about a situation last weekend. I told Gramps a story on his back porch. He listened, intently.

I finished with a conclusion, but I'm still in the middle of said story - still living it, waiting to see what happens, waiting for the ending.

He looked at me and said, "Well, we'll just see what happens, won't we?"

His words caught me. I had interjected a conclusion before it had actually come. Instead, let's see what happens. Instead, let's believe that some things take longer than a conversation about the nuts and bolts of it.

Sometimes it's a year of nuts and bolts, two years of unknown - seven months of not a lot of knowing.

Sometimes it just isn't so tidy.

I'd like to be one of those friends that takes your story in stride - one day it's a mess, and the next it's tidy. One week it's all a blur, and we're gathering, mob-like, to rally behind your heartache and anger. The next week we're rejoicing in changed minds, triumphs - changed emotions.

(photos from a friend's birthday at Huntington Beach. I was in the midst of a different story, and a decision about moving. My six month stint in Washington, DC began just two months later).


Kelly@TearingUpHouses said...

I think about things along these lines often. Especially in retrospect.