Two Rich Links for You

“…the control we want to think we have over our lives is…an illusion. It is an illusion we are accepting of because the opposite of it is hard to bear. The truth of the matter is that life can change on a dime, tragedy is merely a phone call away. But what that made me understand is that not only do I not have control over everything, but I am also not responsible for everything. Life happens and we move into the changes, like it or not. It doesn’t really take courage because we have no other choice. Every day the sun comes up and the sun goes down and we get through another day.” – Marilyn Jean

That is from Marilyn’s blog, ThereMustBeSomeMistake. Marilyn, a former RN, speaks with such a moving, rich voice about her experience with breast cancer, and her new online friends are checking in with their experiences. I thought you might enjoy getting to know her. I’ve never had cancer but I’ve had a lot of surgeries and several cancer scares, so I relate to her words. What she says above just hammered my heart. I feel the same way, so much so that I made up a scene in Dakota Blues about the exact same thing, and I’ve included that excerpt at the end of this post.

I also want to turn you on to a helpful friend, Dr. Melanie G. Dr. G is a psychologist, and you might want to follow her on Twitter. She is such a curious, thoughtful reader and prolific linker that you could almost follow her alone and still have a cornucopia of helpful articles to read every day.

Finally, here’s my excerpt, where recently fired middle-aged workaholic  Karen Grace sets out from the Dakotas in a Roadtrek 190 camper van:

“Room enough, and time.” The phrase tickled around the edges of her memory, something she’d read in a book or heard in a movie, a blessing proclaimed by the Native Americans about places such as this. Here on this highway in the vast freedom of the Northern Plains, her mind uncluttered by a daily agenda or the demands of a casual populace, she could permit herself the luxury of thought. She slowed the van until it came to a stop. The wind blew in the windows, rearranging her hair until she was blind and thrumming past her ears until she was deaf. It rocked the van but Frieda still slept, and the highway was deserted for miles in both directions. Karen put the van in park and eased the door open. Her bare feet touched the blacktop, warm but not hot. She filled her lungs with the dry, clean air, right off the plains and miles from any town. She heard a squirrel chirping and saw antelope walking along on the other side of the barbed wire fence, tearing clumps of grass from the rich earth. The wild fields on both sides of the road revealed an astonishing palette of light yellow, orange, pink, blue and three colors of green: pea, mint, and forest. The rippling grasses were topped by feathery beige flowers that resembled wheat.

“Insignificance: for the first time she considered that she need not accept responsibility for everybody and everything within range in her world. In taking on that responsibility she had not only overburdened herself, but shortchanged those for whom she worried. Why had she assumed them incapable, taking that weight on her own shoulders? Other people surely carried within them their own strength, their own resources, and she finally saw that she was not responsible: not for her parents’ satisfaction with their lives, not for her relatives nor her former employees at Global Health, nor for what happened to the planet after she left it.

“Instead, she saw herself as a bright, vivid figure standing on a timeline, her ancestors barely visible behind her, their small beloved bodies dim and fading into history. In front of her she saw only stick figures moving into the unknowable and impersonal future, as anonymous as the ancestors. As if she slid a magnifying glass along the ruler of history, the figures became larger and clearer as they edged nearer in proximity to her own life. They gained names and identities, but only for that small space in time they shared with her.

“In front of the van she stood on the center line of the deserted highway, her arms outstretched, eyes closed. The wind embraced her with its clovered breath, wrapped itself around her waist, between her legs and under her arms, lifting her. She turned in a slow circle, her arms reaching out, her fingertips lengthening to touch all that she could see in three hundred and sixty degrees of solitude and peace.

“It was enough. It was everything.”

Comments

  1. says

    I love Dr. Melanie’s quote about letting the inner child play! So often, when we “graduate” to adulthood, we leave behind the part of us that was spontaneous and creative and fun-loving. What a shame! Oh, and thanks for more Dakota Blues — looking forward to reading that (and telling everybody I know that I’ve met its author!)

  2. says

    Jean and Ereline (and all who have commented), I was running errands this morning and my brain kept going back to our “conversation.” I love being able to talk with you about these things. Life is crazy and weird and sometimes horrible, but thank God we can share our humanity with each other, because that feels like the ultimate, the very best part. Thanks all for joining in.

  3. says

    Lynne, thank you so much for sharing this post with us! I love the quote from Ms. Jean and look forward to learning more about and from her! Isn’t it wonderful that we are at an age when we are able to appreciate the wisdom of our peers? I so look forward to each day seeking the lessons of life that we all have learned and continue to learn. Gone are the days of our youth when we had all the answers and didn’t need anyone to share anything with us. Thank God!
    As you both have said so wonderfully, it is such a pleasure to know that we don’t have to know everything and are not responsible for everyone else! I, too, worry about my now 19 year old son and the choices I made through the years. Thanks for the encouragement in the words about your son!
    Blessings to you!

  4. says

    Another great post, Lynn. Thank you for sharing it and the excerpt. I look forward to the publication of Dakota Blues. Sometimes we do forget that everything can change in a minute, but life will reminds us… “It was enough. It was everything.” Wonderful!

  5. says

    Marina, you said, “…one of my aching points is that my dysfunctions will affect my kids…” Maybe they will, but how your kids react might surprise you with joy.
    Back when I was a single, hot-tempered, depressed and stressed young mother, I let my son go live with his dad, rather than risk blowing my top with him (plus his stepmom was an angel who longed for kids of her own, and they lived a couple blocks from me). Now that he’s grown, I’ve lamented my guilt over that decision a bunch of times, until one day my now-6’3″ son, who holds an MA and is entering his 8th year of teaching elementary school, said:
    “Mom, if you keep mentioning my terrible childhood, pretty soon I’m going to start believing I had one.”
    Is that not the greatest gift?
    And I pass it to you, dear Marina.

  6. says

    “Instead, she saw herself as a bright, vivid figure standing on a timeline, her ancestors barely visible behind her, their small beloved bodies dim and fading into history. In front of her she saw only stick figures moving into the unknowable and impersonal future, as anonymous as the ancestors. As if she slid a magnifying glass along the ruler of history, the figures became larger and clearer as they edged nearer in proximity to her own life. They gained names and identities, but only for that small space in time they shared with her.”

    I love this passage — I’m seeing you in a different light now — your writing flows beautifully and your descriptions are wonderful. As to your links, I am only now realizing I cannot control anything — or other people — and that I am not responsible for everything — although one of my aching points is that my dysfunctions will affect my kids in different ways, and this scares me.

    I just started a blog/web site for my book — not really blog, because I’m not updating it. I didn’t realize I had signed off as drowning squirrels. Somtimes, if I’m signed into wordpress, it uses my book site as opposed to marinagraphy. Annoying. Lovely post, Lynne.

  7. says

    Yes — courage. In these tsunami days, I am reflecting once again on the nature of courage. considering that I have less of it than I once had, and wondering if that is simply a result of having less of a need to take risks.

    I’ve never been a young man, of course, but one wonders too if the “courage” that is lauded on the battlefield and in rescue, as much as we value and are grateful for it, may be in large part a result of rising sap and adrenaline rush.

    Marilyn’s words ring true: what is not a matter of choice need not be called “courage.” So…does a mother have a choice about rushing into danger to save a child? No. Does she have a choice about saving another’s child? When we are older, we realize there are so many other questions behind the one asking us to act.

    Thank you for the opportunity to bring this together.

    • says

      Linda, first of all, I love your website. Somehow, optimism leapt off the screen at me, and I will visit often. But re your comment, one of the mixed blessings I’ve received as a result of getting older is realizing that what I once saw as heroism in myself was really based in a need to nurture others beyond a point that was healthy for me. In other words, if I wasn’t a martyr, I wasn’t a hero. Now that I know where that drive comes from, I curtail it but since the need is hardwired I also don’t think quite as highly of myself as I used to. I’m not saying this very well, but I hope you get the idea. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. says

    Wonderful post,Lynne.It stopped me in my tracks and made me pause and consider what I have at this moment. Love the last line”it was enough. It was everything.” And I want to know more about Karen Grace. :-) Thanks for the rich links,too.

    • says

      Kathy, I wondered how this post would affect you, as you have your own battle and survival history, and are a nurse to boot! I didn’t know if you would be drawn to Marilyn’s story, or, having suffered enough, would be happy to never read another post about breast cancer again in your life?

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