“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
I drive on a two-lane road on an early, but not ordinary, perfect seventy-two-degree morning. No other cars vie for nature’s attention on this still sleepy hour, where I navigate curves undulating in all directions and honor the trees across the asphalt path, touching each other like star-crossed lovers holding hands.
I did not grow up in a place I’d call “serene.” It was noisy and overflowing with my beloved parents plus six younger siblings—all born within one decade—nine people in a house with one tiny bathroom. It was my family’s “normal.” Sometimes, I’d be at friends’ homes where there were much fewer children but many more rooms.
The bitumen seems out of place with the maples still wearing red, the towering evergreens—their pinecones draping down like Christmas ornaments—and the mighty oaks, solid and steady, the ashes casting sun shadows.
Dig deep into
the well that seems bottomless
to see your amazingness,
to recognize your value,
to shout out loud your importance.
Listen to the voice reminding you
that you are valuable,
that you are loved,
that you matter,
because you do.
I open the windows, inhaling my favorite time of year, trying to freeze-frame the solitude and weather for when the cold and dark blows in and ice forms on the windows and the fire needs to be stoked to keep the house warm.
L.I.F.E: four simple letters, a magnitude of meanings:
breath—inhaling and exhaling
élan vital—life force, energy.
I pull into my garage—which I believe is where vehicles should live if there’s that luxury—and walk into the kitchen with my blueberries, strawberries, and a few ears of freshly picked corn, three of summer’s generous gifts.
“Life.” How elementary it sounds this one uncluttered syllable. How complicated it is when we try to unpack it; to see the right and wrong, the “good” and “bad.” I imagine our definitions are likely not the same because we don’t see eye-to-eye as humans.
An American Robin—very adaptable, eating fruits (berries being their favorite) and the ever-present earthworms, grasshoppers, and spiders—hops onto the fern outside the kitchen window, and we make eye contact. I imagine he knew our connection was fated: me from the inside, him free on the outside. How I wish I could fly untethered, completely free.
F.R.E.E: another four-letter word; it appears to offer rights that are equal to all humans. Alas, we know that is not the case. And sadly, those of us who experience independence sometimes forget to truly honor its sacredness.
I watch the other birds at the feeders: the bright yellow American Goldfinches, the mostly grayish Mourning Doves, often seen as spiritual messengers, and the Northern Cardinals—a reminder that my Dad still walks alongside me—the males with more colorful plumage than the females due to sexual dimorphism. Different colors and languages and ways of being, just like us humans.
What is your truth? When you’re broken, what words mend you? When you are alone, in the quiet, in your quiet can you see the truth of who you are: brilliant and sensitive, loved and necessary. Because (and you know this at your core), you are all that and so much more.