So this weekend I realized that different people consider different things to be fun. It also occurred to me that what we consider fun may change over the years. Regardless, in spite of a tough 5 hour drive that was supposed to take only 2 hours, smooshed in the back seat with 2 friends, arriving just as it was dinner time in my mind, I was faced with an unexpected change of plans. I don't deal well with these. Alex says I micro-manage. I said I'm a teacher; it's the nature of the beast. At any rate, it had been raining on and off, and it seemed prudent to try to hit the beach when it wasn't raining, rather than risk getting rained out later. Also, I had not accounted for the fact that several of our co-vacationers were intent on swimming in the ocean, while I had no such plans. They pointed out that it made more sense for them to swim before dinner than after, which I couldn't argue with. I handled it rather well, if I say so myself. Complaining was kept to a minimum, and I was very glad for having yielded when only 20 minutes after arriving, we were told that the beach was closed!
Furthermore, that evening, it occurred to me that a life dependent on excess alcohol for the sake of loosening one's inhibitions could only lead to bad things. If it doesn't result in lax moral decisions, it certainly results in a loss of money and a hangover. To think, I used to count myself among those who saw these sorts of shinanigans as evidence of adult freedom. Not wanting to rain on anyone else's parade, yet unable to keep my eyes open any longer, my group dropped me off at the hotel while they continued in search of a good time. I was surrounded by blissful silence and sleep, while they managed to keep going the next day after only a few hours of rest. Ah, to be young again! It is only when compared to those younger than me that I become aware of my own years.
At any rate, the next morning, we all returned to the beach, and again I went my way while they went theirs. However, I couldn't have been happier with my time spent walking barefoot on the sand, letting the waves wash against my ankles, bending down to smoosh wet sand in my hands or pick up curious jewels of the ocean. The view was magnificent, simply because it wasn't obstructed with man-made clutter. Huge rocks served to break the waves, kelp and seaweed decorated the sand along tiny shiny rocks and shells, and the horizon off in the distance reminded me of the vastness of the world.
I became particularly interested in the tiny curious birds that circled around a particular section of the ocean, regularly hovering for a second before dropping in latitude, and finally diving head first into the water. I couldn't figure out how they managed to fly right up again after submerging their entire bodies in the pursuit of a fishy snack. It was fascinating to watch them, though. I wondered, how do they know to do that? I also wondered about those poor fish being eaten! That's when I was reminded how disconnected I really am with nature. I told Alex that I think I have to watch the Lion King again to remember the circle of life!
As I paced back and forth on the beach, watching the birds, feeling the sand, feeling the warm breeze, I thought about how rarely I really live in the moment like that. I wasn't worried about the fact that we would be on our way back to suburbia soon, and I didn't think about how I could've better prepared for the trip. I was just there, in the midst of God's creation, and I was just happy to be alive. It was all so simple, really.
That's when I had this bizarre thought. For years I have wanted to be a mother, but why? For me, one of the answers was that I wanted to be able to relive my happy childhood through my daughter or son. But this weekend, I thought why do I need an excuse to live in the moment, carefree? What if instead of seeking an excuse for what I really want, I go for it directly? Aren't happiness, contentment, joy, peace the ultimate pursuits of humanity? Aren't these the reasons we do anything? Don't we pursue education and career for the sake of happiness? Don't we seek material wealth for the same reason? Aren't all of our relationships geared towards this very end? And so I realized that even my desire for motherhood likewise was a means to an end! I have believed that being someone's mother would make me happy, fulfilled. Maybe our infertility is a blessing in that it is forcing me to acknowledge that true contentment cannot be found outside of God.
Psalm 37:7 starts: "Rest in the Lord."
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
In John 14:27, He says: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
In Phillipians 4:7, we are told: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
There are countless other such reminders from God, reminders to trust in Him and let Him give us what we need. So often I've read such advice and failed to see how it relates to my entire life, not just to a particular situation I was dealing with. So often I've thought that I'll find peace "just as soon as I...." Alas, outside of God, there is no peace of mind. This marvelous truth was so evident when my mind was still, neither planning nor analyzing, neither regretting nor hoping, simply being there, in the moment, in the midst of God's creation. Life really is a lot simpler than we make it out to be.
Cease striving and know that I am God.