by Laura Crum
Well, this blog post has gotten a little convoluted. I wrote it a week ago and it started out just like the title sounds. First I whined a bit about the negative stuff in my life, and then I described the stuff that brings me joy (with photos). I reread the post a couple of days later and the whining sounded irritating, even to me. So I deleted that part. But then the post sounded very Pollyannish—all roses and sunshine, as if my life were one long idyll. Which it isn’t.
At this point I began to contemplate the larger issue (I have a habit of this). Was it better to be truthful about the downs, or just express gratitude about the ups? Not only in blog posts and facebook posts, but in conversations with friends and loved ones…etc. I thought about how I view others. I don’t care for those who do nothing but whine, but neither do I care for those who seem to have their heads buried in the sand and refuse to acknowledge reality. I do not admire the Pollyanna mentality.
So I rewrote the post again, adding back in some of the negative stuff I had deleted. I tried to make it as honest as I could. I also found a few more positive things that I’d forgotten to acknowledge the first time. What you see below is the result. I’d like to ask how you feel about this. Do you like the notion about being truthful about life’s ups and downs? Or would you prefer this post if I’d eliminated the whining and stuck to the gratitude (and the pretty photos)? I’m really interested in this topic in an overall sense. Is honestly and openly acknowledging the negatives a good thing or not? I know we all have our share of negative feelings. Even the best of us “pace restlessly between longing and gratitude,” as my friend Elizabeth Speth so eloquently put it (Mostlybeautifulthings). What is the best approach to that which brings you down—not just in blogging, but in life?
Anyway, here is what I ended up with—I would love to hear your thoughts.
There are times I feel sad. There are times I feel pissed off. I don’t tolerate injustice meekly. My family has gone through a tough year. Some of the adversity that befell us was nobody’s fault. Just fate, I guess. Health issues and the like of that. Nothing anybody could have done to prevent it. But some of the problems were quite preventable. They were caused directly by poor behavior on the part of people we trusted, that we thought were our friends. The hurt and bitterness from such a betrayal of trust lasts a long time. I do my best to let go, forgive, and move on. But there is no denying that anger, like a bright flame, burns in my heart from time to time when I am reminded of how false these friends were.
There you see my downs. I acknowledge them. I don’t see any point in hiding from reality behind some kind of pretense that “it’s all good.” Paradoxically, it is truth that sets me free. Because I can feel the downs I can also feel the ups. Each and every day my main emotion is joy and gratitude. I have a good life and I know it. It is so because I actively create it that way, as do my husband and son. We are, all three of us, very good at appreciating the beauty around us and choosing to create more beauty in engaging ways. The world can hurt us, yes. But it cannot make us unaware of how lovely our life is.
There are times when my faith in humanity in general is pretty low. But there is no day when my trust in the glory of the natural world ever falters. There is no day when I do not find much to delight me here on my property. My sense of connection to what is good and true and beautiful remains intact. My ability to make choices that make me happy is a very real part of me. And I can readily see that my husband and son are the same. We know how to tell the truth—both to ourselves and to other people-- and we know how to see the truth. I have a feeling this may not make us comfortable people for much of the world to hang out with. But I, at least, am willing to pay the price of rejection by those folks in order to have the delight of connection with the reality of plants and animals, wind and water, stone and sky. I honestly do not think this sort of connection is possible without a spirit that can recognize and acknowledge truth and respond in kind.
I am so grateful for my husband and son and the lovely place where we live and the animals and plants who share our home. I am also very grateful for the good people in our lives—of which there are many. Both real life friends and internet friends. Not one day goes by that a friend doesn’t make me smile. And one of the greatest recent gifts I’ve discovered is the pleasure of seeing snapshots of other beautiful lives on the internet.
So today I want to go through a little exercise in gratitude and sharing. I know, I’ve done this before. But it makes me happy to dwell on the beauty around me, and some of you have said that you like my photo posts. Perhaps these pictures will make a few people smile.
Here are some shots of the life that gives me so much joy. (All of these photos were taken in the last couple of weeks.)
Our new little pool is a real gift on hot days.
Every single day when I walk down to my barnyard, I smile to see my horses. Here Sunny is on the “tree tie” to be groomed while Gunner and Henry play “bite face” in the background.
The greenhouse is producing more vegetables and salad than we can eat. We do not buy these things any more. I am so grateful to have healthy food that we raise ourselves.
The vegetable garden is just coming into full production also.
My husband begins making tacos with veggies that all came from the greenhouse and garden and beef from our own grass fed steers—and a whisky sour for the cook.
My son and I ride together once or twice a week. It makes me very happy that we can still share this activity on our good horses, now that my boy is thirteen--just as we have been sharing it since he was a baby.
The world we ride through is beautiful.
My son and his 26 year old Henry enjoy the coolness of the redwood forest on a hot day.
My husband is a piper and every year on Memorial Day he plays his pipes at the old Soquel cemetery to honor the veterans.
I see spotted fawns out my window.
There are butterflies. What more can I say?