It could be the heat (92F in November)
It could be the construction noise in my backyard
It could be an overwhelming empathy for Sandy victims
Or sadness for this family
Or, the fact that Miles started preschool, and I miss him
Or the constant push-pull of work and family
It could be any of those things. Or all of them. Or stuff that I can’t even name. But something is…off. I’m feeling the weight of things. And I don’t think I even knew it until my husband sat me down this morning, put his arm around me and asked what is wrong. "You're unhappy," he said. I am? "Yes, you are." How long have I been unhappy? "About a week," he said.
And then later, a woman I had just met said my eyes look sad.
As if on cue, I started weeping.
I truly hadn’t realized. I’ve been doing what so many of us do – keeping busy. Smiling. Carrying on. I’ve been in constant motion, checking items off a never-ending to-do list, moving swiftly from one urgent matter to the next, pushing away any nagging sense of sadness, loneliness, fatigue. It’s all too inconvenient.
But then, someone names it, someone sees me, all of me, and I realize my plan isn’t working.
Have you been there? Are you there right now, running the gauntlet alone? I have to wonder, because I look at everyone around me, and we’re all so FREAKIN’ BUSY. Each one of us, more harried than the next guy. It’s like we’re all running a parallel race, sprinting as fast as we can... but to what finish line?
I worry that we’re too busy being busy. We’re too busy to slow down and feel joy or sadness and support one another (beyond a thumbs-up or sound byte on social media). I worry that we’re all hiding.
Like many of you, I’ve been using November as an excuse to count my blessings -- which are in fact too numerous to count. I went for a run Sunday morning and felt some of the first cool breezes of the season across my skin. I felt gratitude for a strong, healthy body…and for the loving family who welcomed me home with fresh coffee and breakfast.
I have so much. I am fortunate.
But, for me, it’s not enough just to list everything I’m grateful for. What if thankfulness is sharing who we are and receiving the same from others? I want to be actively grateful by being open and honest and giving of myself…and creating space for others to be more open and honest and giving of themselves.
Of course, this is not without risk. Vulnerability is not championed in our culture. I know this well. I have been honest and vulnerable and I have been punished by those who would rather I not rock the boat. Maybe you have been too.
But I think about who I am and who I want my children to see, to model. I want to stop going it alone. I want to be real, to be open to grieving with those who have lost so much, even if that makes me the strange lady weeping at the post office. Because, while some would avert their eyes and walk away…others – like this woman – might grab your hand and give it a little knowing squeeze without saying a word.