UPDATE: I wrote this (obviously) pre-baby. Since writing this, we welcomed our first child, a daughter, into this beautiful and terrible world. All the feelings I express here — the helplessness and the gratitude — ring all the more true now.
My daughter was due last Wednesday. Currently, it’s Saturday. The doctor claims that all systems are “a go,” but for some reason, she’s pretty happy in her cocoon. She could be an introvert. Or, she could just be a comfort seeking creature and doesn’t feel the need to make quick movements. Either way, I’m waiting and I’m not so good at waiting.
There’s a lot I still need to learn in life — but trusting in the waiting could be at the top of the list. As a 30-year old woman of privilege (self-identified), I get to make a lot of decisions, primarily because of the place I was born into. I get to choose where I live, what job I want, what I want to do with my free time. I get to plan trips, negotiate my pay-scale, get a good interest rate on a new car. I can drink without excess, eat without over-filling. I can buy organic, or order my $4 coffee through a drive-thru.
And while this abundance of choice belies my own privilege, it also fools me into thinking I have some semblance of control here. But I don’t. I’m fully aware that I have the gifts of access and choice and was born with bootstraps from which I can pull myself up (many are not), and that what I will have to spend my life learning is the undoing of me. It is the unlearning. It is that I do not have control. It is accepting all of the things I cannot do. I cannot will peace into existence. I cannot force someone to change. I cannot take on humility like a habit. I cannot just get a better handle on my anxieties by sheer force of will. I still cannot seem to help from putting myself before others, and I cannot make this baby come into the world.
This is my life’s work: to equally express gratitude in all my choices, and yet to also acknowledge my utter helplessness in so many things that matter. I have certainly been given much, and from me, much will be asked. Like understanding how weak I really am, how dependent I really am, how — dare I say it — needy, I really am.
I don’t want to be the person who always thinks they can stronghold life into getting what they want. I want to be present to pain — not just avoid it. I want to be an advocate for what is true, just, and right — even if my impact is small. I want to work hard for what is good — even if what is good will not return dividends and maybe actually just deplete me.
This is the contradictory nature of life — understanding that I play both a minor and a major role. Becoming less and becoming stronger. Letting go and holding fast. It’s the upside-down kingdom, and I am learning and unlearning how to be here.
Thanks for this. Really well said.