No one ever promised us safe keeping.
No one ever promised us a painless passage or a smooth sail.
Living a full life means building an appetite for adversity, in one form or another. I know now, more acutely than ever before, that the plans we lay perfectly at the feet of the universe will eventually be thrown in our face. Gut wrenching grief will find you. Misfortune will rear its ugly head. And Happiness – with a capital H – will be a hard decision that you have to make every moment of every day lest it slip from your reach completely.
But the choice is ours to make.
And the brevity of it all is so painfully clear.
So we take risks. We hoist sails while we batten down hatches. We learn to live side by side with strangers. We push, and heave, and fight for our own happily ever after. We build friendships and families. We say vows and we set tables. We throw birthday parties and dinner parties and any party that will give us the chance to taste the joy that flows from this sweet marrow of life. In those seasons, when the winds are calm and the joy is flowing, we learn to celebrate, to grow, to nourish. We lay ourselves raw in the hands of our lovers, closing our eyes tight against their chests, choosing to trust. To love. To live.
And when the ground tremors – which it inevitably will – when our carefully laid plans are thrown back in our face and the unimaginable is painfully apparent, we draw down the courage we’ve been building up. We link arms with our allies and step up to the battlefield. We draw lines in the sand and whisper never again’s, deep down knowing we have no other choice.
Not if we’re going to keep choosing Happiness.
Because it lies somewhere between aging armor and wild abandon. The vulnerability that we muster to live a full life is both our greatest threat and our deepest opportunity; new growth flourishing in the cracks it creates. It is all we can do to show up, day after day, to feel it all – the joy and the sorrow – and to make something beautiful with the time that we have.
But creating beauty in this mess of life is not for the faint of heart. The heavy seasons will come and go, but in their wakes lie the clarity and resilience that great lives are made of. We just keep our heads down. We step carefully into the great unknown. We look for grace. We hold our breath while running full speed ahead. We nurse each other’s wounds, bear witness to each other’s battles. We cling tight to the ones we love while they are within arms’ reach. We wake up with battle wounds from yesterday’s wars, torn deep across hearts that sleepless nights couldn’t heal.
And we try again to trust. To love. To live.