G. and me when we first met
You know sometimes when life seems to stop along the pathway and you can see how beautiful it is where you have been travelling? That is the effect that watching my birthday DVD has had on me. My dear niece, Lizzy, wrote to me and said that she found herself smiling so much at the images that her cheeks hurt, but that “it was a good kind of pain.”
Of course a birthday celebration movie doesn’t contain all the sad and bad parts of one’s life in it. Who wants to watch images of all the things that hurt or were disappointing despite your best efforts? Who wants to rake through all the times you fell on your sword in the name of doing the right thing, or maybe doing the wrong thing because you didn’t know any better?
Someone I didn’t know very well said today that the movie seemed “idyllic” as though nobody’s life could or should look that good. It was a slightly cynical, somewhat sardonic way to describe it and it took me aback a little. I thought about it afterwards and decided that the many images of nature, food, flowers, the ocean, Christmas are at the center of my consciousness and what my life is really about, not merely decorations or extras: they are intrinsic and intentional to these moments that have made up my days for me and my family.
Someone else long ago had commented, also a little sardonically, that my home was like a “still life” and that there were many of them all around. While I might contend instead is that it’s a kind of messy still life as I pick up and move things around, trying to find a place for everything. What this illustrates to me also, is that I want to live the idyl every day that I have left. I’d also like to look a little trimmer as I have in earlier photos, keep growing my hair long and stay healthy.
That doesn’t mean that the areas of my life that have been disappointing are swept under the rug. They aren’t and God knows I have belabored most of them to death, second guessing myself, wondering if I could or should have done something different that would have resulted in a more positive outcome. I have sometimes reached out against my better judgment and thought of ways to gain closure for unresolved loose ends. I am satisfied that I have indeed beaten it to death, one way or another. And that those hurts are behind me, even better, they’re just not in the frame of my life anymore.
I hope that’s okay with the people who want me to know that my life is not an idyl but I’m afraid they might be disappointed that my life does happen to look a lot like the DVD. . . pretty much, I’d like to say.
Postscript: I was reading about a woman in South Hadley who was dying of pancreatic cancer and after a number of unsuccessful marriages, found “the one.” Her advice: “Don’t yell at each other unless the house is burning down!” She lived for six years after her first diagnosis and offered herself up to nursing students to visit and ask any questions they might have liked. Here’s a link to that article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/us/fatally-ill-and-making-herself-the-lesson.html?hp