“Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.” -E.H. Erikson
Seconds and inches. That’s all that separates our paths from each other, from our fates. One step to the left, one step behind, one second later, one second sooner. Timing is everything. The funny thing about timing is that we have absolutely no control over it. Our lives are shaped by the decisions we make. Our lives are shaped by who we surround ourself with, who we date, where we choose to work, and where we choose to spend our free time. Life is fluid, ever changing.
I read recently, in a book called To Heaven and Back, that life is like a tapestry. This book is a lovely account of one woman’s journey through death, heaven, angels, and back to life again. I highly recommend it to anyone who is exploring their spirituality, faith, and relationship with a higher power.
Life is like a tapestry. A million different threads make up the tapestry of life, yours and mine alike, and your individual thread helps shape the unique design that is created by all of our different threads. Your life, your decisions, the moments that define you, determine how the thread is weaved into the pattern. One step to the left, or right, and you shift the pattern. Each step is neither right or wrong, for without your thread which is weaved by these steps, the tapestry will be incomplete. The point is that every single individual, every person you meet in your daily activities, has meaning. This got me thinking. What is the meaning for my life right now? What does my thread mean to the tapestry? What is my purpose?
Recently, life threw me yet another curve ball. I watched a man have a seizure right in front of me. The whole day leading up to then had been off. Weird. Odd. I was not even supposed to be where I was. A last minute decision, someone else’s last minute decision incidentally, freed up my evening so I could end up there. I was sitting, completely immersed in my own thoughts. My own worries. My own crap. Sitting. thinking. Thinking of how unclear my current path is. How not okay I am with how unclear my path is. And then, the man started to tense. I watched as his body became rigid and he started to shake, and I knew immediately it was a seizure. My mind went on autopilot. Was he epileptic? Was he overdosing? “Get him on his side!” I thought to myself. There were people around. Hundreds. About ten of us in immediate proximity. I always want to help people. I want to be the fixer. I want to be the hero. But I was blocked. I was blocked by chairs and the three people already surrounding him, doing their best to help. Everyone was terrified of the situation. Not only was I blocked by physical objects, I was blocked by my own fear. My own self-doubt. I knew to get him on his side. “God please don’t let him bite his tongue off”, I thought. “I should go over there. I NEED TO HELP.” But instead I stood there, less than five feet away, and I called 911. I stood to the side rather than putting my hands on his body to steady him, to help, as I really truly wanted to do. I thought for a moment, deep inside of me, that I was going to watch this man die. He was going to die and I would have done nothing to stop it.
The horrific event continued on for two minutes or more. It seemed like hours. Then his movement began to calm down. His breathing became more regular. The paramedics came in heroic splendor. Within twenty minutes the man was responsive, his color returning to normal, able to answer questions. He was going to be okay. He was alive. I was flooded with relief. Flooded with gratitude that he was . That he would recover.
It hit me. The reality of my situation. Where I was sitting, unable to provide that man with the medical care or knowledge that I thought by now I would posses. Remember that seven year old self that I referred to in the last post? The one that was positive that by this age I would be well on my way to being a doctor? Well, reality is I am not. Reality is I have no idea what I want to do. And reality is that while I appreciate my life as it is now, and have immense gratitude for the blessings I have been given, I am not where I want to be. I am aware, however, that there is a plan for me and I do not get to know what it is. Being the control freak that I am, it does not sit well with me to not know that plan that is my destiny. It seems more often than not I am dealing with what life throws at me defensively, rather than being able to play offensively. I seem to be fixing the problems that are constantly thrown at me rather than attacking those of my choosing. I know, deep inside of my heart, that I will flourish. I will be great. I will kick life’s ass. Someday.
We carry on. Progress, not perfection. Maybe it is our mistakes that make our fate, our greatest miscalculations that mold us into the people we are destined to become. Remember, we are only separated by seconds and inches. Seconds and inches separate me from who I might have been, and from the woman I am becoming. Because becoming that doctor, or becoming that dedicated military wife to the man who turned out to be the person that hurt me more than I imagined was possible, or becoming any other person than who I am at this moment, isn’t my fate. My seconds and inches that comprise my history, the same seconds and inches that brought me in front of the man having the seizure, are weaving my tapestry into something completely unique, beautiful, and meant for me. And at my weak moments, when I feel like everything is falling apart, I have to hope that holds true. When I cannot BELIEVE unfalteringly in the tapestry, I have to HOPE for it. After all, I am only seconds and inches away from who I will become and realizing the beauty of my dreams.
What do you believe in? What gives you hope?