I Had a Handle on Life but It Broke, is the title of a book by fellow professional speaker Mary LoVerde out of Denver, Colorado.
Thankfully, you can’t copyright titles, although I’ll always attribute. This one’s too good not to steal, because it’s so very apropos right now.
For those of us who are battening down the hatches once again at the same time most of us might have welcomed a hug or two from beloved family members, it’s an interesting time.
Other words come to mind, but in the spirit of focusing on what’s positive, I’ll stick with interesting.
A great many things “broke” this year for a great many of us. For my part, my international adventure travel career came screeching to a halt right about the same time I’d made an important commitment to an Italian couple on Africa’s Mafia Island.
I told them I’d help them turn their eco-lodge into a research center. Since returning to America, they have written me repeatedly in desperation, asking for referrals to institutions which themselves have no money to continue critical work. They need to retire. They want their lodge to be repurposed. That plan broke this year.
Last year I was in Ethiopia in November, working with a delightful guide named Kenaw. I spent an afternoon in Lalibela with his family. Since spring, he has written me repeatedly, begging for funds that I don’t have since my own business collapsed. His guide work is over, his family destitute for they count on his income. It’s painful to read his emails.
Many more of my friends who are like me, in their mid- to late-60s and who have to continue to work, have found themselves in similar circumstances.
I get pummeled with GoFundMe campaigns for places I care deeply about, and feel guilty that I can’t support with more than free stories on my websites to keep them top of mind for other potential contributors.
While I am troubled by the state of things right now, the grace of age also allows me, and many of us, to be able to look at where we are and know that over time, things reform, shift, and remake themselves.
“Broken” has more to do with how we see things, than what may be real.
If I may.
Being old enough, we know life goes on. All things living go through crisis. That’s true of the small cell to the largest star. Evolution requires life to move. As much as we’d like to think that our personal desires and dreams might be kept in mind, they aren’t. Life largely doesn’t care.
The invitation, the way I see it, is to embrace what you and I cannot control. To create grace around what we think we have lost, at least in the form we once recognized that we “had.” A way of life, a career, a relationship.
Those of you who have been through divorce or lost a child, who have watched parents pass, know the pain. Yet those people continue to live on within us, informing our lives and worlds, precisely the way we will when it’s our turn.
I feel my mother looking out through my eyes, I hear her laugh when I laugh, when I travel to the places she most wished to see but never did. She hasn’t gone anywhere.
When we allow things to be as they are rather than try to grasp what must pass, we also make room for what’s next. Age is the great teacher that “broken” often simply means “transitioning.”
The world doesn’t owe us an easy existence. The world gives us life, and what you and I make of it is our gift to those who love us most. The people closest to me are remarkably brave. They are first responders and people of great courage, finding ways to serve and benefit others even as they risk much to do so.
Their actions teach me, just as our actions – how you and I choose to navigate – are gifts to people who need to see how life can be lived even in truly difficult times.
Sacred work is finding ways to be calm, grateful, and generous when the world fills with ash outside the windows, the hospitals fill with sick people including those we love, and the world feels out of control.
Truthfully, it was never in control. Our particular chaos was simply familiar, and we had the sense that we knew where the dangerous shoals lay.
We Silver Sisters have been around long enough to know that what feels like end times to some, usually aren’t. They will pass. Handles on life break. We install new ones, and in doing so, we open new doors not only for ourselves but for others.
Do you have a handle on your life? How would you describe it? What spheres of your life broke due to the pandemic? How have you been helping others who are in more need than you are? Please share with our sisters.