I have a confession to make. Smelling the Sneezeweed is supposed to be a space where I make a regular effort to acknowledge all of the beauty I see in the world. It is supposed to be a place where I come to share my happiness and my love for life even when I have no clue where life is taking me. Smelling the Sneezeweed is a place where I envision myself writing with the same fire and passion that I have always written with, and using that fire to spread the happiness to others that are walking in the same moccasins that I am walking in. But like I said, I have a confession to make.
I started to look back at my recent posts and I realized- they are fireless. They just sound like I sat down to my computer and felt compelled to write something. anything. And well, it really began to upset me because I realized that this firelessness was not just a part of my writing, but it is a huge part of my life right now. I realize that finding the happiness and the beauty in my day to day world is really difficult for me now. I feel like the little things that make each day bright are getting littler, and I am getting buried deeper and deeper into this state of "fire-free."
There are a whole slew of things in my life that are suffocating that fire. Pillowcase on top of pillowcase of suffocation. From my hectic schedule to my claustrophobic home, I know what the pillowcases are. But instead of having all of you read on and on about what is putting out my fire, let me just tell about the epiphany of a moment I had today.
My bear is back in my life, and well, he sure is after that lovely picnic I had set up in the woods. It is amazing to me how the person who makes you feel that happiest you have ever felt and the person who makes you feel the worst you have ever felt can inhabit the same body. But he does, and lately the high of the happiest is coming down. And it is coming down hard. Today I was driving to my class that is about an hour away from my home and I was texting the bear (only at stoplights, and yes entirely illegally in NY). I spent the last few days in a total funk because of him circling my lovely checkerboard blanket, and I was ready to do my best to either invite him to stay for some lunch or shoo him off when it hit me. I mean, it really hit me. CRASH. I was rear ended at full speed by another car. My phone flew off my lap and into the back seat. The faceplate of my stereo went flying off and I clenched my eyes so tight I thought they may never peel open again. When I did finally pry back my lids and peel my hands off the steering wheel I glanced in my mirror to see the other cars hood completely smashed in with smoke pouring out. There was a man reaching in the back seat and pulling out his baby twins; they were four years old and screaming in sheer terror. I climbed out of my car, nervous to look at the damage, and was glad to see that it was minimal. If you want a good bumper, drive a jeep. The other man was apologetic, and nervous. A man from a pizzeria across the street came running out offering to help, offering to take the children inside where it was safe and dry and warm, even though the man kindly declined. The children calmed down and his wife showed up. But after three long hours of phone calls and police reports in the rain, the ordeal ended with the man in the other car being arrested.
Suddenly my bear didn't matter, and my dented bumper didn't matter, and my suffocating house didn't matter, and my hectic schedule didn't matter. All I could think about were those two four year olds. Those two little sneezes being told that their daddy wasn't going to come home with them. My mom pulled up in her car, because yes I am 22 and I still called my mom to come be with me, and she came rushing over but my mind was still on those two sweet little faces. My fire started to burn a little brighter. Not because this was a happy, beautiful moment, it was anything but, but because I realized that maybe I'm looking for that happiness in the wrong places.
I am looking for happiness and beauty in my bear. I am looking for happiness and beauty in my suffocating home. I am looking for happiness and beauty in my hectic schedule. I am looking for it in all of the places where it simply doesn't exist right now. I haven't been looking for it in the golden trees, or in the faces of the children where I intern. I haven't been looking for happiness and beauty in the smiling clerk at the coffee shop or in the crisp wind that blows outside my window. I haven't been looking for happiness and beauty in the world around me, I've only been looking for it within my own little fireplace.
In a moment of ultimate sadness, two small children unable to understand why their daddy wasn't going to come home tonight, I saw beauty in the face of that man who works in the pizzeria. I saw beauty in a stranger reaching out to help, offering the warmth of the pizza shop and warmth of the soul to those sweet little faces. I saw that in their oblivion, those two small children had shed their fear of the ordeal and found happiness and contentment in inspecting the broken pieces of plastic from the car that landed on the sidewalk. Happiness and beauty can show up in the most unexpected places, the places we are least likely to look.
As I drove home, those sneeze faces embedded in my mind, suddenly texting my bear was the last thing I was thinking about. I couldn't wait to get back to my snug home and my busy schedule. And while I still don't feel like I am as happy as I can be, I am starting to figure out what places are not the right ones to look for those snippets of beauty and happiness. I still think it is important to explore the beauty in my own fireplace, but I am coming to understand that sometimes you need to fuel the fire with a crisp log and crumpled paper from the outside.
And so, the newest part of Sneezeweed:
The Daily Sneeze (or what's fueling the fire today)
-kind pizza men offering all sorts of warmth.
-plastic on the sidewalk.
((go on, tell me what's fueling your fire))