At the start of the year I made a list of women that I was bound on seeing this year. I was bound on doing life with them, whatever that was going to look like. Maybe it was walking with them to pick up dry cleaning. Maybe it was sitting with them as they picked out what logos they preferred for their company. Maybe it was preparing a meal together. Maybe it was people watching at their favorite place to people watch. The what I was open to, it was more of the with.
We make such a huge deal in life about what we learn, where we learn it, what we wear when learning it, how many people liked that we learned it, what filter to use to best show on Instagram what we learned, but focus so little on who we learn in life with. The “with” is where where the magic happens 😉
My trip to Portland recently was absolutely about seeing one of those women and spending time doing life with her. It was a short trip, just about 24 hours, if that, but we had plans- plans that included good food, good coffee (for her, chai for me), a visit to the new home she and her family ceramic showcase. And we did all of that, amid picking up her two super cute offspring, doctors appointments, physical therapy appointments, Kumon, homework, lunch making and packing, and everybody out the door getting.
As we rode in her black SUV to the ceramic show, post sweet treats courtesy of Kyra’s Bake Shop (seriously so many amazingly delicious sweet treats to not eat one, one and a half, or two) she asked if I’d thought about going back to the counseling profession or if my two year to date sabbatical was really my exit from the work altogether. “I’m not sure, but right now I’m not in a place to be present or give to people the way you have to as a counselor.” She nodded and scooched the vehicle forward a little more to make it known to the other cars she was intending to make a left turn before the light changed. “And are you seeing anyone?” she asked. I laughed trying not to choke on my sweetly frosted cinnamon bun. “I’m not really in a place to teach anyone right now how to be who I need them to be in my life. If they don’t come with those qualities- like knowing how to communicate, or reciprocate, or other things I really consider basic to the type of relationship I want- then I got nothing for them. Plus, seriously, I live in Chestertown.” She laughed and then she said-
“I get it. You need someone who can come into your reality for what it is. It’s hard finding those people who can truly enter into your reality, and you can enter their’s and do life together in reality. Not in what it used to be, not in what we want it to be, but in the present moment with the present situation. And I find those are usually the healthy people. The ones who don’t want to make things like they were or can only talk about what they want or wish and not really take ownership of what currently is struggle because they don’t know how to take ownership of the current reality.”
I thought she got it because her husband is a child psychiatrist as are one of the couples her and her husband enjoy spending time with. I also thought she got it because she worked in higher education as a resident director for several years and you cannot do that job well (and she was a rock star) without some serious counseling strengths. But in that moment I realized she got it in an entirely different but real way. She got it because she’s made a choice to live in reality, do life with others who live in their realities, and to be courageous enough to stand with folks in their realities as they work out their past and move towards their future.
She got it in the way that I am hoping you get it and I got it as my first lesson from the list-
“A simply LIVEd life is one that is lived in reality.”
I know. It’s simple. You probably think I didn’t need to fly across the country to learn it. But it’s true. It’s so so true. I’m still not completely in love with all of my current reality, however, the more I’ve dug my heels into my reality I’ve gotten a lot better at truly appreciating and protecting the parts of it that I adore. I’ve used those pieces that scare me, that I’m disappointed about, have been on what feels like the longest journey out of depression, and ashamed of to be thoughtful in the areas of my life where I need to be courageous again, hopeful again, softer again.
Absent of being present in our own present, real about our own reality, we really do jeopardize living. We sabotage, we setback, we steal from our future. We lose out on good relationships, opportunities, and moments- moments that become good memories, good memories that become foundational for our reality, and realities that allow us to build purposeful futures.