We’ve got two lives

One we’re given and the other one we make

And the world won’t stop & actions speak louder

Listen to your heart and your heart might say

Everything we got we got the hard way…

–Mary Chapin Carpenter

 

Staring at my computer, in an office in downtown DC today I had an “A-ha” moment.  Its one I have had before, but then I conveniently forget.  Its so easy to forget it.

Life is hard.

Once upon a time, when I was just a youngster I truly believed it when my father said “The difference between a hard life and an easy one is all about choices.”  I interpreted this to mean that if only I made the right choice I would be rewarded with a life of bliss, ease and good times.  I interpreted the struggle I faced as a young person in the world as a result of bad life choices.

And there was some truth to that.  I made a lot of bad choices over my years.  But I have also made some good ones too.  But many times over I have been amazed to learn that good choices or bad, life has been no less hard.  Good choices led me down some pretty difficult paths but ultimately took me in a direction I wanted to go.  Bad choices sometimes were exhilerating but took me away from my true north.  Both of those paths were filled with hard work and difficulty.

Sometimes, I get very grouchy when I am stuck in a hard-work kind of place.  I want it all to  be so SIMPLE so very clear cut and easy.  I want to breeze through life the way I breezed through elementary school, without a care in the world and three steps ahead, and someone to solve it all for me when it got to sticky.  I just want to do the one thing that will make it all fall into place.  I revert to my childish notions that good choices lead to easy-peasy paths to joy all around.  And then, when I realize that there is nothing that you can do to assure an easy journey I get mopey and disappointed,

Lately, I have made lots of good choices and I have to say the path I have taken has been laced with much joy.  There are these moments I have, when life seems perfect.  I am surrounded by a community I love, my job is exciting and we are healthy and well and then–BAM it hits me.  My amazing and beautiful loved ones are human, imperfect people, just like me, and we sometimes struggle to see eye-to-eye.  Or I make a mistake that needs to be fixed and fixing it takes everything I have got and more.  Or sometimes life just throws a curve ball.  And it takes hard work to set it all right.  Or doing something fun turns into a ton of really tedious work and I want to give up.

Its hard to be a single mom and do it all alone.  But I know its also really really hard to make a healthy relationship work and to keep it fresh, open and moving in the right direction.  Doing a job I hate can be really hard.  But as I am learning, sometimes, doing a job I love can be miserably hard too. 

And sometimes when I realize all this I feel cheated.  I am pissed off that there is no way around the difficult.  But then, sometimes with a bit of grace,I have one of these aha moments. 

LIFE IS HARD.  Trying to avoid (or believing I can avoid) the difficult is what leads me to disappointment and sorrow.  Picking up and slogging through the hard work with optimism, eyes on the lovely scenery and a sense of humor can make it all so much more pleasant–and joyful– and fun.

Dad was right in some way.  Life IS all about choices.  Following your true north, making choices that ring true in your heart can lead to joy.  But I have found I can also choose to rob myself of joy by mucking around disappointed and grouchy that I have to work through some hard stuff. 

 So, whats a girl who just had an aha moment to do?  Crank up Mary Chapin Carpenter, slip on some boots, and dance dance dance…

Caught up in our little lives, there’s not a lot left over
I see what’s missing in your eyes; you’re searching for that field of clover
So show a little inspiration, show a little spark
Show the world a little light when you show it your heart
We’ve got two lives, one we’re given and the other one we make
And the world won’t stop, & actions speak louder
Listen to your heart, and your heart might say
Everything we got, we got the hard way…

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