Note: I know this is not exactly adhering to the "simple significance" theme, but it is about me learning big things. Enjoy the tangent.
My mom and I talk on the phone a fair amount, mostly about life and love and friends and our family. But recently our conversations have been more on the weight of death and divorce and unemployment and rejection and loneliness and crushed dreams and broken trust being experienced within our life and love and friends and family. "Is anyone in your life not going through a hard time right now?" she interrupted. "Well, uh. Uhhh... no. I think everyone is going through a hard time. Maybe all the time is a hard time." "Amy, life IS hard."
The only way I can think to escape the pain, to stay safe, avoid the conflict, and/or control your future is to never be in relationships, never love, never challenge yourself, and never expose yourself to things uncomfortable or unknown. But how are we human if we operate in this self-protected comfort/fear-bubble? We were created to be in relationship and to feel love and to need grace and to learn from diversity. It's against my nature to give that up. But I want to, because then I don't have to...
Life is hard.
No matter what, the older I get, the more complicated and chaotic and unexpected and straight-up painful life gets for me and everyone around me. That's just how it is, and how it's going to be. I know that now.
But, I also know that the deeper I dig into people and my dreams, the fuller I embrace life, the greater potential for joy. The better story I live. Vulnerability and "the unknown" are risks. But the choice to risk is worth it, because I don't want to be haunted by my decision of not trying at all or avoiding the pain or giving up my passions. To "play safe" is to be left with a boring or uneventful story.
I love what Jeff Bezos said in his 2010 baccalaureate address at Princeton: "...when it's tough, will you give up or will you be relentless? When you are 80 years old, narrating your life story, the telling that will be the most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end we are our choices. Build yourself a great story."
Life is hard. I choose to risk. A good story is worth it.
Sometimes it's when I'm on a run, or sitting at my desk, or wandering in the park, or even when I'm in the middle of talking to a friend. It's a sudden moment of epiphany. A stark realization. A humbling lesson. A simple truth. This little thing- that no one would think twice about it "meaning something"- maneuvers its way, somehow, into revealing a life lesson. A little thing that teaches me something big. Quite simple significance, I like to say.
This unique interpretation of every-day-life-stuff being like big-important-significant-stuff happens in my mind quite often. So... I decided to start writing the simple significance down. Read it if you want. I hope you enjoy and learn and grow as I have while walking through this journey called life.
Friday, September 17, 2010
July was the start of berry season here in San Francisco. It's about the only thing that reminded me of summer here. Even on the foggy cold days, I would see people walking around chomping on their farmer's market purchases: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries. Delicious!
About a week or so into peak berry season, I started noticing people were spilling their cherries all over the ground in my neighborhood. I observed this more than a couple of times. "People! Hello! Stop dropping your cherries all over the sidewalk! ...Or at least pick them up like you would for anything else you spilled (SF is a pretty tidy city). They are getting trampled on and crushed into the cement and my shoes and can stain!"
I was on a run one morning in Golden Gate Park and I saw the same thing- cherries smashed all over the ground. There is NO WAY people are spilling their farmers market purchases here too! Barely anyone ever comes through this part of the park! So for some reason I decide to look up and notice there's a tree above all the cherries... with cherries on it. Yeah. Turns out there are lots of cherry trees all over The City, and the cherries just drop on the ground when they are ripe. I was wrong- people are not spilling their cherries and leaving them to get trampled on. Humbling moment.
Sometimes, we are so narrow minded and jump to conclusions and assume things (like that people are so inconsiderate that they drop their cherries on the ground and don't even bother to pick them up so that everyone steps on them and they stain everything) without looking at the bigger picture (it's a cherry tree). We are so focused on what's right in front of us (the ground full of crushed cherries) that we don't even see what's really going on (look up and see the tree).
Sometimes we blame too quickly or assume unrightfully and really just get ourselves into a lot of trouble. Sometimes we think we know what's going on and we convince ourselves we are right without knowing any more than a piece of the story. Sometimes you have to ask questions or look up in order to see the whole picture, or you risk making false conclusions and unfairly pointing fingers. All the time, it's good to be unassuming.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
There's a guy on Market Street that sets up a table outside of his Japanese/Chinese (I think they sell both) restaurant in the afternoons and sells sunglasses. They are all "foakleys" (that's what my friends in high school would call the knockoff shades you could buy in Mexico). He's got hundreds of pairs all lined up and tries to attract shade-less customers while the restaurant isn't hoppin'.
Who knows if he ever sells any, but he sits there and tries. Everyday. If the statistics are true, people aren't going out to eat (ie spend money) as much as they used to, especially in the mid afternoon. Its a tough economy and this Japanese-restaurant-owner is not raking in the dough. So, he's taken it into his own hands to make ends meet. He is using the resources he has (his store front and his time) and found access to some additional resources (sunglasses) and started a little side business.
Now, I'm definitely assuming at this point, but it seems that Japanese-restaurant-owner is filling his "non-productive" time at the restaurant and putting effort in to his end goal- sustaining his business/ life. Earning cold hard cash. Meeting his needs. Its probably not fun, but he does it. And he keeps doing it, which means it is probably working (or he is an extremely perseverant and patient man).
Sometimes, you've got to get creative and do something boring or additional or different or hard or crazy-looking in order to make things work. To make ends meet. To survive.
Sometimes, in order to meet your basic needs, you have to suck it up and sell sunglasses outside of your Japanese restaurant in the afternoons.