Today, it’s raining. The air outside our home smells like wood fire, cold temperatures, and wet leaves. There’s a goat screaming in the pasture; she’s hungry, as always, and she’d rather stand in the rain and tell us about it than curl up with her family in the shed we built for them. I’m about to finish my homemade peppermint mocha as I sit here by the fire and make plans for what’s next. Some chai tea, perhaps. A little reading. Some writing if it comes my way.
This slow and easy quiet feeling is my reality.
Not to say I don’t have bills I need to pay next week or things I should be listing online to sell. Not to say there aren’t still presents to wrap, nagging feelings of incompleteness, or some laundry waiting to be thrown in the wash. And certainly not to say there aren’t real problems out there for people who have it far worse than I. But for now, this is how I’m choosing to frame my reality. Because I need to. Because it’s not a lie when it’s still the truth. At least for a moment.
Lately, I’ve been feeling burdened by penetrating thoughts of comparison, like my life might feel more comfortable if I had those winter white sweatpants; like things would feel more satisfying if I’d settled for a standard 9-5 career after I graduated college; like I’m falling behind my classmates and peers.
But all of this is just a trap. One built of consumerism and social expectations and the status quo. And it doesn’t do me any good to worry about it.
These moments in which we choose to re-frame our reality in a way that makes us better appreciate the things we already have are a form of rest – mental, emotional, and sometimes even physical, rest. It’s not that we’re playing pretend, or denying any part of what’s real. It’s just that we’re choosing to see it all in a new light; a light that casts a warmer glow on the cold, comparative thoughts we’ve allowed ourselves to succumb to.
Re-framing our realities might look like any of these things:
Embracing the artistic struggle of working a part-time job while you chase your dreams behind-the-scenes for zero profit.
Relishing the biting wind on your nose as you take a walk outside to escape the cold light of your computer screen.
Getting creative with the ingredients in your kitchen because you can’t go to the grocery store.
Enjoying the solitude of reading at home alone on a Saturday night because all the bars are closed.
Do you get the gist?
We can choose to view our lives as hard, tedious, monotonous, or unfulfilling. But how much more beautiful is it to capture the details and roll them all up into one big alternative fairy tale of our own making?
You know, when Taylor Swift sits down to write an album, I’m pretty sure she’s just sitting on a couch somewhere scribbling down words in a notebook – just like you or I might do. But like any artist, she has a way of framing those songs – drawing lines between them – that bring them all together in a new light. She puts together the perfect photo shoot, she creates a theme, a new identity, a signature look. And suddenly, those scribbled down words become an album, a movement, an era.
So why don’t we do that for ourselves, even if just on a moment-by-moment basis?
On a day like today, I can curse that goat and huff and puff my way through the rest of this post, or I can embrace the absurdity of my life thus far, set the computer down, throw on my Michael Kors coat (which has admittedly become the perfect winter suit for wrangling muddy goats), and take a long walk down to the barn so I can carry back some flakes of hay through the rain and put an end to all our despair. Which is what I just did.
And then, I finished this post, made some tea, and picked up a book to fully embrace this stay-at-home kind of day.