I want to share a story with you.
Once upon a time there was a woman who was once a girl. From almost the time she began to remember things, she
She felt the strangeness and wonder of new countries, one after another after another.
She felt the newness and isolation of going to 8 different schools, each time needing to make new friends, each time feeling so very different from the people around her.
She felt the confusion and fear that came from a home life that was often unstable.
She felt the slippery path of panic when she thought about life, the meaning of, the inevitability of death.
She was 8 when she began to have anxiety issues. She was 13 when a family friend said, "You are too sensitive. Don't be." She was perhaps 15 when she thought, "I wish you could freeze time. Just stop this, this being. Take time to get your bearings, then wake again." She was a child when life sometimes seemed impossibly big and impossibly hard.
But she kept on.
She lived. And had some extraordinary adventures and made many mistakes.
She grew up and met an incredible man and had two beautiful children. She felt everything for them so big and sometimes so hard, that now and then she was nearly swallowed by feeling. She wobbled, she stumbled, but still she kept on.
In all this, nothing changed in how deeply she
To this day, to this moment here and now, nothing has changed in how deeply she
Which means this woman, the once child, is constantly heart-open and sensitive and sometimes laid bare with feeling.
It means that she has,
—that I have—
thought, "How do I live in a world so filled with things that hurt? Everywhere I look, there is suffering. The hardest to bear is the suffering caused by human choice. In the the treatment of children, of adults in crisis, in the treatment of animals, in the treatment of the land and the sea and the sky."
How does she
—how do I—
I suppose it is with
by tiny step.
And sometimes actually, by bigger steps. Sometimes skipping. Sometimes holding the hands of loved ones. Sometimes leaving footprints in the sand as waves roar beside. Sometimes with the wind at her back, driving her on, sometimes running with her arms out, dreaming of flight.
And sometimes, you make decisions that make the steps feel light, and sweet and fine.
Sometimes you make choices that put you on a path away from suffering. You choose the path that doesn't cause or bring hurt.
Those steps are beautiful.
Those are the steps that make me want to write my Vegie Wednesday posts.
Those are the steps that make us search for vegan cheese, and adapt to putting oat milk on our cereal. Those steps bring us to polenta and bean mix for dinner, and insanely delicious lentil burgers.
And there are other steps too.
When my kids see me donating to charities and organisations like Oxfam, Greenpeace and Medicines Sans Frontiers, they see me making choices that can help ease pain.
When my kids see my husband rescuing the enormous (enormous!) huntsman spider from a bedroom and releasing it into the garden, they see someone mindfully choosing a path away from suffering.
Those steps are
filled with light.
But you know, we aren't perfect.
Sometimes we mess up. Even if we don't mean to. Even if it's the last thing we ever want to do, we hurt others.
Sometimes the choices we make don't prevent suffering; they actually cause it.
Here, right now, is the path where I am walking.
Two days ago a friend, whose family we love, and have treasured being around, told me they no longer want to continue our friendship. It had been coming for a while, with them gradually slipping away. I didn't understand why—I was simply asked for space and gave it. So it's been a confusing and difficult time for me and a strange time for my kids. When the decision came, so very finally on Monday, it was devastating.
The reason? I guess it could be summed up as, "It's not me, it's you. More to the point, it's your children."
As a mother (as any mother knows), hearing criticism of your kids can be incredibly painful. But the issues raised were issues I believed we had resolved. When they came up a long time ago, I had spoken with my kids. They had listened, and agreed to change what they felt they could or should change. And then they (we) thought the issues resolved, let go.
I remember at the time thinking, "Ah, this is a bit tricky." I thought, "I guess this is the sticky stuff that life and interactions with other human beings brings you into. But the love gets you through, right? You ride it out, right? The hard stuff. Because at the core," I thought, "there is love." So perhaps I didn't work hard enough to sort it all out. I didn't realise that what seemed simply sticky to me, and would pass, was actually impassable for them. I made a mistake. I am so sad, so sorry about that.
My kids are not malicious kids; they are as sensitive as me and love as big and deep as I do. They would never have intentionally hurt their friends. But it seems they did hurt them. And I did. We did. And it wasn't mended in time, and now it's too late. Now, my kids are baffled and sad. As for me? Well, I am broken-hearted.
I wrote a post about this on Monday, and then deleted it. It felt too raw then. It feels too raw now. Thank you to Jessica and to Deb for the comments you left. Did you wonder where your words went? They were incredibly kind and supportive, and I am so grateful to you for them. I can put them back in the comments below, if you want? Just let me know.
And dear friends, I hope it's okay if I write about Vegie Wednesday on another day? I can call it, "Vegie Wednesday on a Friday" or something clever and inspiring like that. I'll be sharing my recipe for lentil burgers and writing about a book I read. I do hope you come by. It would be so lovely to have you here.