My kids had a project in school where they cut a piece of paper in the shape of a boy and mailed him around the world for people to send back with a summary of where the guy had traveled and experiences he may have had in these various places. His name was Flat Stanley. These stories were shared at school, and, in that way, students were educated about various destinations. Flat Stanley usually went to places like Garner, Iowa, but sometimes he went to more exotic places like Texas, and I think he even went to Siberia. The stories he brought back were intriguing.
You know how you brace yourself when you think you are about to be in a car accident? This usually happens to me while in the passenger seat, and especially if the steering wheel is in the hands of one of my teenagers. Every so often, I realize I am braced like that during regular times. At the grocery store, I am braced. As I walk my dog, I am braced. And the moments turn into hours and days, and I find that I am braced for days on end. Braced in fear of something bad happening? Or braced because something scary already happened? I’m not aware enough to know, but, I think I do it in an attempt to be unaffected by the things going on in life that I can’t control. And it makes me feel like Flat Stanley.
I don’t want to go through days and around the globe Flat Stanley style. I want to soak it up.
I recently went to a concert. It was outdoors, and it began sprinkling. Then it rained like someone had built an ark. Sometime between the sprinkling and the downpour, I realized that I was braced. I knew it because I started getting a headache. I stood in the crowd and chuckled at myself because it dawned on me that I was bracing myself against the rain – as if my pure tension would scare the wet away from my skin, and I would be able to enjoy the concert moisture-free. I laughed at my ridiculous effort. I relaxed and soaked it up. And I’ve rarely had such a riveting experience.
I made a deal with myself after that: I will get wet when it rains. And I will get tired and cut and sunburned and I will probably laugh at inappropriate times. I will let people around me mess up and stumble, and I won’t try to fix them. I will mess up and stumble. I will stay up too late watching movies, and I will feel the sting when my kids don’t want a hug. I will grind my teeth when they defy me and cry when they move away. I will roll my eyes at my husband when he irritates me, and melt when he smiles at me. Enough with the bracing.
It will be riveting.