Yesterday I lifted my baby girl (who is really more on the verge of toddler) into her familiar place in my left arm, and my wrist made a popping sound. It felt weird and hurt a little, and as I rubbed the spot where it felt out of place, I noticed how tiny my wrists are. I poked my fingers in between the long narrow bones, looking for a muscle or tendon to rub, to set things right. I realized that I use that skinny wrist to hold my girl for hours every day, and I never once questioned whether it was strong enough, or if I might hurt myself, I just did it. This is a good, childlike view. Strong and confident until surprised with evidence otherwise.
I also had a conversation with a thoughtful friend about what it takes to be happy. I said, “Is there a way to be happy in this crazy world?” She said something along the lines of, “Sure, you watch a lot of TV, buy the things you see, get a burst of happiness, then when it wears off, buy more things, and just keep all of your thoughts and interactions very surface.” I said that I don’t think that anyone doing that is really so happy. As I said it I realized that it is a similar cycle as what I’ve been working on breaking out of, but with the opposite inputs. I feel good about my health or my choices until I get used to them and then I move on, looking for the next best thing, the next healthy choice to make, the next issue to work on. Just before that, my “rub some garlic one what ails you,” relaxed, sneaker wearing friend had told me that a doctor mom in stilettos at story hour asked her to meet up for a play date. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to. Was my friend being a snob? Or was she just not interested in hanging out with someone she didn’t seem to have much in common with?
The answer to that question is the same as the answer when I ask myself why I’m interested in a new healthy way to do something. It’s the same answer to the question of whether I should be eating this, that, or the other thing. It depends. It depends whether I’m excited to try a new recipe or healing technique because I think it will “fix” something that’s missing or broken in my life, or because I feel like it is genuinely a good idea. It depends whether I’m eating a cupcake at a celebration with friends, or late at night standing over my sink because I’m stressed out. It depends whether my friend judges the the mom-in-stilettos’ values, or she just wants to hang out with someone she can chat with about organic food and personal growth (me, obviously!).
The more I wander down this circuitous path of healing and discovery, the more difficult feelings I confront, and the more honest I have to be with myself about my motivation. This honesty makes it easier to grow and change, because I’m not hiding from myself or my own true reasons for doing things. I don’t need to figure everything out, or be the healthiest person on the planet, but I want to be clear on why I’m doing what I’m doing, and that’s what makes the difference, to me.