Sunday, April 3, 2011

Don't forget to brush.

June and Kat
I remember asking my grandmother a few years back what she wish she might have done differently with her life. Wife of a lawyer, mother of two successful boys, grandmother of 4 and now great-grandmother to two - she is a woman who has aged with the grace and dignity of an amazing bottle of Bordeaux - although she traditionally prefers Chardonnay. Her hair was stark white by age 35 but it didn't stop her - part of the charm behind grace is the complete lack of vanity.  Instead she was such a respected member of the community, that she sat at the table with JFK in Richmond, Indiana as he toured the country (for what purpose I assure you I cannot remember.) All of this, two world wars, Korea, the Vietnam conflict, Iraq, Cuba, The Cold War, The Depression.... first steps on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, TV, Color TV, etc.... She was born in 1916 - before women had won the suffrage movement pushing through the 19th amendment.  Today, at 94 years old she sits a registered Democrat with family deeply entrenched in politics.   She's an icon - an old woman now with arthritic hands and painful joints - but an icon representing everything I should hope to be in my life.  (Even if she does shudder when she thinks about how I have two tattoos, my hair is too long and constantly tells me that the holes in my jeans make me appear impoverished.)  So what else do you ask an icon besides what you would change in your life, if you could? Do you know what she said?  "I'd take better care of my teeth."

So it's the little things.  And it's time.  It's the passing of time that takes all the major events that shape what we think is the end of the world and turns them into something really rather mundane.  But the little things, they stand out.  The people in your life - they stand out.  Time has this magic about it - and as I get a little older every day I start to see more and more clearly the benefits of trusting in it.  You know that line from The Stones - the epiphany lyrics that tend to rattle around life lessons and painful loses? "You don't always get what you want - but if you try sometimes - you just might find - you get what you need."  It hurts me to say this but maybe this song needs to be redone by some auto-tune no-talent hack of a pop icon... I feel like it's a concept that is getting lost under a sea of falsely-entitled pre-pubescent brats and if we aren't careful, may become extinct within two or three generations.  Let's get real though, from time to time we are all guilty of the systematic eradication of patience. Well, I know I am.

You don't always get what you want.  It's a fact.  But the secret is that just because you want something - just because in that moment your heart is staring at whatever it is like it's the Red Rider BB Gun and tomorrow is Christmas - it may not be the best thing for you.  Hard lesson to learn but one of those you have to conquer at some point.  And to those of us who get a little emotional about what we want, well - sometimes we make mistakes and push boundaries.  And sometimes we push so hard that like a 45 year old trying on her prom dress, we tear the fabric and seem to ruin the whole damn thing.  You don't always get what you want.

Then time happens.  You grow a little - you realize that what you thought you wanted, what you thought you had to have.... the dress you had to wear again after two children and 25 years of morning donuts and biggie sized french fries.... it wasn't meant to be.  You don't realize it but you've been getting over it. The first week was legitimately awful - although at this point you don't remember it thanks to a little help from your friend, The Captain.  The second week was a little better - you switched to wine.  The third week you thought about that dress once... maybe twice?  And then somewhere along the line, you moved on with your life.  Look at that! You grew.  You boxed up the dress, put it back up on the top shelf and hit the gym.

If you try sometimes....

Actually - you don't always have to try (although sometimes, you totally do!).  Sometimes all you have to be is humble.  Sometimes you have to wait until waters calm down, the storm is now a distant memory... and you have to say - wait for it - "My bad." Well, that and you have to mean it.  But here's the really fantastic part.... once you've done that the universe has your back.  You get what you need.  I don't expect anyone to understand this - but I'm extremely grateful for my humility in the last few years, months, days... ha, you name it! It is so funny where and in whom you can find your smile again once you let go of the reins a little and let life wash up like the tide.

Look, life is definitely a crapshoot.  Sometimes you're gonna get snake eyes, sometimes you're going to get bitten by the snake.  There are going to be rough patches - and you will have to rely on your friends without letting your ego get the better of you.  And yes, you will make mistakes.  You have to laugh though. Otherwise the world is a dark, miserable place with walls collapsing in on you and all your dreams.  Not much fun. So you have to buckle down and get through the muddy parts with that style and grace of a generation almost gone. I mean, I think about my grandmother - about all the life she's lived and how many times she must have thought she was witnessing the end of the world or that her sanity was just about run out.... and in retrospect you ask a woman who has 94 years of life to her name what in the world she would change.... and all she laments about is her dental care - well that's gotta tell you something right there.

Universe - I hear ya.  And yes, today I totally flossed.

- Kat

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