I remember a cool fall evening as a kid where I was kneeling beside my friend Ann on the front lawn of my childhood home. We were praying fervently to the Virgin Mary that my parents would let her sleep over that night.
At the time, it seemed like the most important request on the planet. I’m not sure now how it ever ended up, but I know I was shaking and on the verge of tears as I clenched my folded hands in front of me desperately, I wanted it that badly.
There have been many other moments throughout my life, too, with people I loved, jobs I wanted, places I wanted to go to, or leave, that have prompted such focused pleading to a force bigger than me. “Please let this happen for me,” or “Get me out of this, pronto, I beg you!” … and even, “Can this be real? Pinch me.”
What strikes me is our ongoing capacity for such depth of emotion. It doesn’t matter how old we are. We find kindred spirits, fall in and out of love, discover things we really want to do, and get to places in our own personal development that overwhelm us with joy and sorrow.
Sometimes our dreams work out, and the blessings abound. Other times, they die, bringing heartache.
I had to give up on a wish I had recently, even though I didn’t want to. It was a tough thing to do but I knew I had two choices. I could go kicking and screaming into the night, like Rumpelstiltskin jumping through the floor. Or, I could reach into myself to sit peacefully in acceptance of something that was beyond my control.
Being someone who loves to win and HATES to lose, that option would be especially tough. But, it’s of course the one I chose.
Two things helped me. One is a prayer from the Catholic tradition of my youth which I have always loved. It says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
The other, funnily enough, is from the movie “Annie,” which I probably watched 5 million times with my daughter over time. One line has always struck me deeply and it popped back into my head when I needed it the most as I thought about my situation.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
I’m finding that the moments in life that slay you can be flipped to find the good. No, it isn’t easy. Disappointment is a tough pill to swallow, whether it’s a failed sleepover, a lost job, or a parting of the ways with a friend. But in the end, even the hard stuff makes you a better person. It reminds you, in case you have forgotten, how deep your capacity is to want things, and feel things. And that’s a gift to be treasured.