good soil

I found an Anaïs Nin quote the other day, “You live out the confusions until they become clear.” I printed the quote from an Etsy shop, the words scrawled across the page in calligraphy. The printed page was heavy with black ink and I had to cut away the edges so the little numbers along the top and bottom didn’t show. I folded the quote, put it in an envelope, and mailed it to my friend, Ellen. She texted me this weekend, “loved your note! thanks for thinking of me!”

I did think of Ellen when I saw those words, knowing that she was struggling with her boyfriend’s recent move to another continent and the general shittiness of her job (which is what jobs are, often, anyway). And guess what? The same day that I mailed that letter Ellen posted a picture on Instagram with her co-workers, “Thanks for a great two years!” Ellen left her job the day I thought of her. She has a new job and while we haven’t talked about it yet, I think it’s a big improvement from the old one.

Ellen lived out her confusions without my help.

So now I think of myself. I was walking around a frost-covered field this morning, feeling the cool crunchiness slowly start to seep into my tennis shoes. Cold and wet. I walked in circles as my dog ran in circles.

Yesterday, as I walked out of my office, the sun setting and the sky streaked with that golden hour light (airplanes leaving white streaks through the sky, like shooting stars that linger) I noticed a hump of grass across the street. I say hump because it’s kind of an ugly word, and this was kind of an ugly hump. The dirt and weeds were covered in something lovely, though. Red and yellow flowers stared at me in that golden hour light and I thought — Oh, shit. Yes, yes.

Those flowers wanted to grow in the middle of an empty roadside field because they said, fuck it, the soil’s good.

The soil’s good.

Recently I’ve been trying to force things: relationships, story ideas, hobbies. I push against my initial resistance and I think, “If I stick with this, it will get better.” You see, if you stick with some things, they do get better. In fact, that’s how you generally live your life. But sometimes it hurts more than it helps.

The clarified epiphany goes something like this: if you tend a garden, it grows. But some things won’t grow in certain climates — there are some seeds you should never even plant.

I’ve been living out my confusions, stirring in my discomfort, swinging from contentment to grumpiness to complete and utter befuddlement. And it’s only 8 a.m. Living this way feels organic, I’m not intentionally pushing myself into the purgatory of a Tuesday. (I would probably prefer the certainty of a Thursday evening.)

You get what you need when you need it. That’s my secular version of, “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.” Sometimes life (and God, if that’s what you prefer) throws you something that knocks you to your knees. You know that crippling feeling — we’ve all felt it, if only in our imaginings of what a more terrible world would be.

If you don’t feel like that, then you’re just having a Tuesday morning. And anyone can live through that.

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