Even when we’re sure we’re doing it right, and it goes wrong, it can end up RIGHT.
Last month (oh! And last YEAR!) was a month of strangeness.
Our porch and backyard had accrued too much stuff (long boring story), and it was made clear we had to do something about it. I volunteered to find homes for the more-usable items.
I thought the easiest item to move on would be our big ol’ recliner.
We found it a few years ago, on a neighbor’s tree lawn, free. In great condition, and from their description, I thought it was real leather, from an upscale furniture store here in Santa Rosa. We were so excited!
But it turned out to be one of those swivel rocker-recliners. I’d just had knee surgery (my 6th!) and being swiveled when I tried to stand up juuuuust didn’t work for me. And it was big, too big for our small living room.
So we put it on our porch (protected) and it sat there for several years, until recent circumstances forced us to move some stuff on.
I put it on a “Buy Nothing” group on NextDoor, where people can post free items. No takers. Not one.
I put it directly on NextDoor. Many, many interested people, dozens. But when I picked someone, every single person bailed. One because it wasn’t real leather. (Okay…..) Several, who seemed really excited for it, said they’d pick it up at a specified time/date. They never showed.
So after two weeks, I took down the offer.
Next, I tried a group called Welcoming Home, who ask for donations of furniture and household goods for formerly-homeless people who are newly-homed. After many attempts, that finally fell through, too. “Too big”, “No need for one right now”, etc. “Oh, wait, yes, we want it oh no we don’t nevermind.”
Then I turned to Restore Marketplace, which sells all kinds of home goods in support of Habitat for Humanity. Same story. They could pick it up. They said they won’t pick items that are “up stairs”. (I told them our porch has THREE STEPS, and we would help if they really needed assistance.) Then they said they came by, but they couldn’t find it. (I had told them it was on our porch, in plain site.) You can see it from both streets. (We live on a corner.)
So now what???? Will no one rid me of this troublesome recliner???? (Apolgies to Henry II.)
And a few days later, my husband told me he actually now loves sitting on the porch in that recliner!
It’s sunnier. (Not in direct sunlight, just facing south).
It’s more private. ((We have neighbors who are not…evil…just hugely annoying. I removed the rant, let’s just leave it at “they are incredibly self-absorbed to the extent that even my extremely-tolerant-to-awful-people husband can no longer bear to talk with them.”)
So in the end, my partner is very very happy with a recliner that meets his needs and wants, that I spent ages trying to rehome.
I’m now glad I didn’t succeed!
I have several more similar stories this last month, but I won’t bore you with all the details.
Just sharing that sometimes….
Our biggest roadblocks, dead-ends, set-backs, turn out to be exactly what we needed.
Such as my struggle to find a teaching job in the 1980’s, during the recession, even going on a three-week road trip to visit Native American reservations who were the ONLY schools hiring. (Turns out they had so many applicants, they couldn’t even consider more.) I resorted to temping, working in kiddo daycare and being a substitute teacher for several years. And finally walking away, devastated, about giving up my dream job.
Only to realize 20 years later that I’ve always hate hate hated having to be someplace at the exact time and place, every day.
I would have made an awful elementary school teacher. Not even ‘summers off’ would have changed that.
(Similar story: This is also why I never want to be in Sundance catalog, either. I took on one mail-order client back in the recession of 2007-2009, and made several thousand dollars. But I had to make hundreds of the exact same jewelry item. I thought I would lose my mind. Never again!)
Now, to clarify…
When we are in the middle of this shit, it’s really really hard. There is no “gift”, no “blessing”, “so-and-so never gives us more than we can handle”, nada. Just the feeling that we aren’t good enough, we’re never gonna have what we want, and that life isn’t fair.
It can take a looooong time to realize that maybe our new journey is the one we were really meant for.
I now see so many people who set aside their creative desires to pursue a career that was kinda-sorta-ok and paid well, and only return to their creative work when they retire.
To be clear (again!), it’s great to find work that is “pretty good” and even better if we make room for our creative work. Even in small doses.
But totally postponing the yearnings of our creative hearts until we’re in our 60’s or 70’s? Sad.
Though I never returned to “real work” after having kids, I did find my place in the world. It’s become my creation story. And I still tear up every single time I revisit it.
So yeah, sometimes we need grit, and endurance, and determination to achieve our creative dreams. And even then, we may never get there.
And sometimes, we just have to accept that we can’t change the past.
But we can hope there’s a chance to retell it, see it from a different perspective, in a way that lifts our heart and allays our sadness.
How to tell the difference?
I have no idea. Except, maybe, give it time.
And, if an angry bear is involved, it’s probably not gonna get better…..