It was a moment of silence in our house, which does not happen often. With the younger children napping, I was folding clothes on the couch while my 5 year old, enthralled with legos, silently lined up his men and their belongings into a settlement just like what we had read about in Daniel Boone.
Lying on his stomach with these plastic people spread out before him and with his chin resting on his arm, he looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, do we own land?” This question, for most, would invoke a yes-no answer. For me, it invokes that aching pain to my heart that only the absence of something can create.
I tried to explain to him that we do own land, just far away and useless, and for sale but yet won’t sell and that’s keeping us from creating a better life here. The questions kept coming: if it’s useless why did we buy it and if no one else wants to buy it why did we want to buy it?
I took a deep breath and grew silent. My five year old could hang a shingle and dispense better advice then that which we had followed long before the real estate bubble burst. “Why don’t we just live there?” he asked so innocently, and with the perfect common sense that only children can possess. We adults like to make things more complicated than logic allows.
My Mom always used to interrupt my whining with a simple phrase, “Bloom where you’re planted.” In other words, make the most of any situation. As my Dad would say, “It is what it is.” It’s so simple, so basic, that upon first hearing it almost seems nonsensical. But the truth remains: if you cannot change it, thrive anyway. Stop discussing the situation. Stop comparing, contrasting, mulling and obsessing. There is nothing new under the sun. Move past that and live.
Existing happens to all of us. Thriving is a choice. In another lifetime– one that seems like a distant fairytale– I used to help people with disabilities rehabilitate for re-entering the workforce. I learned much about human nature. I learned even more about the power of faith and the motivation of a dream. I saw those with simple, everyday illnesses and struggles (the kind common to most average people—let’s face it, we all have some kind of discomfort in our lives) roll over and give up. Why try? Why attempt? Vanity vanity, all is vanity, so to speak.
And then I saw some thrivers. I knew a woman, an older Black American who remembers the back of the bus; she had one of the most devastating life stories I have ever heard. She was an alcoholic once, she was homeless once, she had suffered great injustices, and she saw a child die once. Her illnesses were severe and her prognosis was grim. Her pain was great, but her smile was infectious. She would wheel her chair a great distance to visit me so that she could spread her joy and peace to this young and inexperienced war-bride. She filled her time with meaningful activities that enriched her life and the lives of others. She knew what mattered.
We have a beautiful, healthy family. We have an amazing community that has taught us much about life in the country. We’ve had chickens, a garden, and greater abundance from (others’) fruit trees than I can personally process! We have our dreams and goals that propel us forward and we are not giving up on those.
Right now I’m only seeing through a dark, cloudy glass, the shadows of what truly are. One day I’ll see the entirety of my life’s story as one who looks back from the finish line to see the race completed. This is the middle of my story. I can choose to stop here, or I can keep running towards those goals.
We live in both the now and not yet, and I choose to thrive.
“One day, son, we’ll have our land. For now, let’s bloom where we are planted. Who wants hot chocolate?”
The two photos from the Daniel Boone Historical sites can be found here.