I wish I could go to the store and buy a bottle of perspective as easily as a jug of milk. I desperately need it and just can’t find it anywhere. I can purchase anything on Amazon, I can download a book in seconds. Everything seems readily available, at my fingertips before I have fully felt the wanting, yet I cannot get my perspective back. I am lost in a mess of remembering and wishing, usually cured by a spate of travel to mountains or valleys or beaches or to places where others are really hurting and my wounds look less like gaping oozing death-at-my-doorstep slashes and holes and more like pinpricks that itch or irritate but oh look at the view kind of sores. Good Lord, I need some perspective.
I’ve noticed an emptiness, a wandering sort of wanting, that leaves me lost in my head lately. Conversations swirl around me, I forget that I was reading or the show I selected is still playing, I am somewhere else. When I reach for the thoughts that seem to have captivated me so, I can’t quite grasp anything, sliding through gliding away. Daydreaming, unfocused, words float out and away, images hover, this is the edge of the abyss. I know, I have visited here after every hurtful text from my son, after every holiday my daughter is silent. My losses are real, the wounds won’t heal and each month seems to bring another damn holiday to highlight who is missing and what I am without. Some are easier for me, a slow pull to the edge that allows me time to fight back before I ever get close. Others, just too powerful and I am leaning over the cliff before I have pulled in enough breath to last me. I get woozy, I grow weak, I lay down and rest and forget I am supposed to get back up. I wander about in my mind. Sure, memories of joys and laughters and platters of food can threaten my mental health, but I forget I can choose not to breathe my slow breaths at that altar. I can take in lungfuls of goodness and new joys and the aroma of a smaller platter of brunch as well. The only way back is through, maybe, but sometimes it is just to turn around. Turn right around, open my eyes and see what is in my lap. That maybe is my bottle of perspective, awaiting me.
Yes every year, every month brings more opportunities to feel the ache but also the same can be said for chances to notice what is not hurting. Do we ever notice our elbow except when we have banged it on the wall and it throbs? The same can be said for all the things that go right, do they get our attention or only when they break, leak, chip? How many mornings have I gazed out of my office window at the bare bushes, longing for spring, wishing for the lilacs to bloom. Yet here they are, gloriously scenting my entire yard and I stare past them into the darkness. Feeding the birds throughout winter was an obligation, now they are flying eagerly about, singing chirping calling and I hear them only from the distance I have created. Patio furniture is in place again, I sit on the couch inside. This is misery chosen. Perspective cannot be found on the couch in the dark curtains drawn to block out spring flowers.
I recognize this pattern, when I breathe deeply enough to regain consciousness and I remember I can still survive. There, another deep breathe, up we go. Step away from the edge, let’s rejoin our life. My self talk awakens me, again I must remember the path back, breathing isn’t enough. The darkness that threatens to overtake, I must seek out the Light. Then I remember the way: gratitude. Yes, I ache for the losses in my soul. Today is the new morning, the day to awaken from my self-imposed joy sleep by breathing in lilac air with a nod to the birds building nests of blue string Plum and I littered throughout the trees. I am seeking out my blessings, the only way back into the light. Perspective doesn’t come easily when I am not packing my suitcase, when no mountain top reminds me of my smallness and God’s bigness. Wildflowers surely are blooming on the Colorado countryside but they are also sprouting in my own backyard. Noticing, seeing, hearing, I cannot leave all this behind in search of the God who visits far off places, forgetting He is here, right here with me in my sorrow. He knows I am just stuck on the emptiness of the tomb, missing the hope and the promise, mourning still still I am just not done mourning.
Songbirds call to me, the breeze brings my favorite scent from the bushes around my yard. God I think understands though that I cannot buy perspective and I am cannot rush through this pain. I sit at tomb weeping and longing, slow deep breaths until I remember that I can get up again. And then I will. With my new perspective.