A long time ago I went through a life event that knocked the wind out of me. I was a little confused and a little disoriented. Nothing particularly bad had happened, but the way I thought things were ended up not being true, and I had to grapple with reality being a little different than I expected.
I had an older friend who said something simple yet encouraging, a statement I still think about.
“It’s okay to be a little mad,” she told me. “Because this isn’t how things ‘should be,’ and it’s okay to be upset with that.”
It was okay to feel a little angry, a little bit of grief for what ought to be, but it was also important not to let my frustration ruin the equally valuable reality of what was. And soon I was able to let both things be true: my frustration at the reality I had lost, and my gratefulness for the reality I had.
I think about this concept for a lot of things, but no where is it more timely than now, at the end of March, as we see snow fall from the sky when the groundhog told us spring was coming early. We have visions in our heads of green grass, pink and yellow blossoms, sunshine lighting up glossy new leaves, the air smelling like every hope and dream. We’d like to wear springy clothes without pairing them with a sweater and thick socks. But when the reality we want is nothing more than a dream birthed from the mind of a Pennsylvanian groundhog, and the reality we get is a lot more… cold, we are angry. We grieve a little bit. And you know what? It’s okay to be a little mad.
This blog has helped me—and I hope, you too—be a lot more mindful about being grateful, to try to find the good in weather I usually wouldn’t appreciate. But there’s also nothing wrong with being honest with how you feel, with admitting, “Hey, I honestly don’t appreciate frozen mud anymore.”
It’s okay to grieve for what should be, but it’s not okay to let it ruin what is. We can hold those two realities: the one we want and the one we got, in each hand. They can exist together, and they can do that without stealing our joy.
Thankfully, of course, with the weather it’s as easy as waiting for it to change. I mean, spring has to come some time, right? Right? …Right? But with other things: illness, family issues, job opportunities, etc, it’s not always as easy as riding it out. Sometimes we have to navigate the balance between our desires and our reality a lot more actively and delicately. Sometimes it takes a lot more thought and angst and perseverance.
But the good news is, that in the midst of those two realities, there is hope. Even when it’s spitting snow on Easter, the birds are singing. Even in the midst of something really hard, there are little notes of hope, little markers of change. If there’s anything this blog has taught me—and again, I hope, you—it’s to pay attention, to look for those things, so that the world doesn’t seem so bleak as it did before, so I can start making something of the mess, so I can have hope.
(But I still really hope we don’t have snow on Easter.)