Thursday, February 13, 2014

keeping up appearances

Nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown—you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit.
— Caitlin Moran

My mother has taught me many things.
One of the most vital lessons she passed on to me was to never over-bake brownies.
If the recipe box said 39 minutes, she'd set the buzzer to 27.
No one wants over-baked, dry, tough brownies, she'd tsk-tsk. Her subtext being: just let go a little and maybe not follow every last little instruction on a cardboard box.
So I learned to that if you maybe don't cook brownies for a half an hour you'll end up with gooey, decadent confections of chocolatey goodness that will send your tastebuds into thrills of delight.

Another thing she taught me, I just learned the word for:
Amerimnesis: which is one of those beautiful Greek words that gets written on the blackboard in your first theology class of the morning.
Amerimnesis means not being troubled about tomorrow.
Amerimnesis means not worrying about those many things that lie so far outside your control.
Because, I cannot count the many times each week I pick up the phone, and call her, trying to sort out five different contingency plans for my life.
And one day she just said to me:
Renée. You are not in control. You try too hard to be in control.
As a very proud non-control freak, I resented that statement for a moment.
Hey now, I thought. I am a Very Chill Person.
I am an absolute paragon at Going With the Flow.
I'm more of a choleric-melancholic, but I do a darn good impression of a sanguine, I thought.
But, I realized my mother (as she always is) was right.
Because what she was really pointing out to me that we are all humans, and since none of us are incredibly holy desert monks who have achieved a perfect state of apatheia, we all possess in our hearts, in our lives, in our desires those core items of which we cannot let go.
We all have those things that we just don't trust are going to be taken care of, that we firmly feel that we have to see to.
If there is going to be a next chapter in our story, aren't we supposed to make it happen?

But I think three of the most beautiful words in the world are:
come and see.
Because there is no guarantee, no promise of what lies beyond those words, there is only a simple invitation to discover what mystery is in store.
And once you finally begin to understand that it is not your job, that it is mercifully blessedly and thankfully not necessary to know what is going to happen to you in a year.
Or a month.
Or tomorrow.
One of the most magnificent aspects of tomorrows is that they are and forever will be a mystery to us.
No matter how far humans fly in space or how deep they dive into the ocean, they will never be able to see tomorrow.
There will always be a something that is just out of our grasp, that lives just outside of our control.
The world continues to be a mystery to us, our lives continue to be a mystery to us.
When a large part of the work we do today is work done for the future, it is easy to forget that the future is a mystery to us.
And no matter how much we prepare, tomorrow will always bring a curveball we could not foresee, and a surprise that we would have never been able to predict.
That mystery, that constant, inevitable mystery is the gift.
It's the invitation: to let go a little, and to see what happens next.

In every truth there is something more than we would have expected, in the love that we receive there is always an element that surprises us.
--Benedict XVI

1 comment: