Sunday, April 4, 2010

Searching for it

You know the feeling.

In tennis, it's the perfect spot on the racket where the return just about sings and the ball goes right where it's supposed to. In boxing, it's the "off" button you nick on your opponents jawline with just enough pressure to turn the lights out.

In jiu-jitsu, well, according to Patrick, it's the part of your game where you don't have to think...the groove you find where your body just "knows" what the opponent is planning...and you just do. (I, personally, have never experienced that in jiu-jitsu...I manage to know just about everything they don't do. But that's another story.)

It's the sweet spot. And in sports, it's easy to pinpoint.

In life, however, the sweet spot is tougher to define. It's a moving target where none of the pieces are ever aligned at the same time.

I've been absent from the blog (and much of life) for just about five or six weeks now, and while I couldn't really come up with a good excuse, just know that I was out there seeking something.

This time of year is tough on me. It's dirty outside constantly--the snow melt and the dirt mixed together makes for a dull, gray looking city that isn't pretty to travel through. We live in a hovel with a psycho upstairs. The bus was wearing thin. The people on the bus were wearing thin. There were collections and medical bills haunting me. It was a job that hated me as much as I hated it. It was the extra ten pounds I had left that weren't going anywhere. It was a laundry pile that never seemed to shrink and dishes that never seemed clean. There was a serious case of writer's block. Did I mention the two rejections I got in the mail from Harlequin on the same day? (Yeah, thanks for that one!) Lots of thought about giving up the whole "dreams" thing and just being a pencil pusher the rest of my life. Life was bland. It had no taste. It had no color. It was March and I had no idea what would drive me through to the happier season in Alaska. I felt empty, with no direction.

Then I thought about life's sweet spot and how it's never really that far away if you think about it.

Life's sweet spot is when there's more paycheck than bills at the end of the month, it's gas in your tank and enough money in the bank when that tank goes low, it's a week straight of babies sleeping through the night, it's getting to bed on time, taking your vitamins, and knocking out two chapters in two days on your story. It's no collection letters in your mailbox. No meetings ALL WEEK at work. It's clothes without wrinkles. Mornings you manage to do your hair AND your makeup BEFORE you leave the house. It's waking up on time. Eating breakfast. Taking time for that cup of Darjeeling at 3 p.m. each day.

The sweet spot is taking your sons to swim lessons and getting in the pool with them--the tiny little scratches you get all over your arms from their sheer panic and joy at being in the water. It's packing a kindergarten lunch each morning. It's your husband's coffee mug on the kitchen table next to yours. It's a baby who smiles despite the pain of molars breaking through the sensitive skin in his mouth. It's a boy who wants to tame dragons and who tapes paper monsters all over your doors just so he can fight them with his paper towel roll sword. It's the phone call from your mother at the exact moment you need to talk. Or the text message from your dad telling you he's proud of you--for no reason at all.

It's big things. It's little things. It's everything. It's amazing how off track I managed to get myself...and how lucky I am that I can pull myself back together again.

Just about a week ago, ourGracie Barra family suffered a pretty tough loss when one of our own took his own life. It'd been a few years since he and I'd last hung out, but for a time there, we had a lot in common and got to be good friends. Our sons are the same age, and if there is one thing I'll remember about him, it's how much he loved his child and how hard he worked to make a better life for them both.

Nobody knows what happened to cause him to feel that this was his only option, and I'm certain there's plenty of us who will wonder how much more we might have done. I've been thinking about this friend since I got the news and I wonder how badly he must have been hurting behind those bright smiles and hearty hugs he always offered us so readily.

If anything can come out of this loss, I hope maybe it's that we learn to look around at the people we love, the ones who matter to us, and to remind them that maybe their own "sweet spot" isn't as far off as they might think.

Maybe all we need to do is remind each other once in a while that life is beautiful, even when it isn't, and if the road is tough, we're here to help. Maybe we need to remind each other that life is what it is because of who's in it--not what's in it.

I've spent a long time searching for the sweet spot, and I know that I'll never be done--but for the time being, it feels good to be back.

Happy Easter, everyone...

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