I’m a skeptic and cynic by nature, but frankly, sometimes it’s exhausting to be so bitter. I feel like my sarcasm and cynicism is often a defense mechanism, an excuse for why the life I’m living right now is not the game of life I grew up with. My tongue stings with sharp words about everything that is wrong with the world we live in, but sometimes I just want to lay in the warmth on my floor and sigh about the beauty of it all.
I love preoperational children (ages three to six), because their reality consists of pixie dust, and magical stories of far away lands . They say things like “I’m a princess and penguins live on mountains”. They believe me when I say I’m a mermaid, and then glance with wonder at my glittery TOMS, which are a part of my mermaid tail. The concrete operational seven year olds stand in the background, shaking their heads in disbelief at my claims because mermaids aren’t real, and thinking they are smarter than the six year olds for knowing that I am truly not a mermaid. But secretly, they wish they could still believe in mermaids and penguin princesses.
I frequently joke about how nursing school has made me old and bitter before my time, but you must understand that my line of work is a lot more like Grimm’s edition of The Little Mermaid where Ariel’s time runs out and she turns into sea foam, instead of the sugary Disney version where she marries the Prince (which, by the way, this Disney movie teaches us it’s not ok to talk to men unless they kiss us first. Solid. Also check out the video at the end for a new interpretation to the ends of Disney movies. The Pocahontas one is my favorite, obviously). There are not many happy endings I see at work, and sometimes, I feel like my sense of child-like wonder and hope has disappeared.
I went camping in Calaveras Big Trees State Park this summer. I asked my Dad what qualifies a Sequoia tree as a “big tree”, trying to analytically determine if a specific trunk width, or height, earned the Sequoias the title of “Big Trees”. Then, we walked through a grove of giant Sequoias. Upon encountering the first tree, I exclaimed “Wow! That’s a Big Tree”. There was no scientific measurement preceding my awe-struck reaction. I learned the definition of wonder when I looked up at the tree and lost all my pretentious big-girl vocabulary.
One of my favorite love stories is Pride and Prejudice. I think this book explains the concept I am trying to convey, much better than I am attempting to explain myself. Lizzy is only able to accept Darcy’s love when she stops analyzing, stops expecting the bad ending, and lets herself just be in love with him (this is a gross oversimplification of the story, by the way. Please forgive me for not summarizing the entire novel in this post). I think it’s the same with me and God. I distance myself from His love when I critically survey the world and find it not to my liking. The world is broken, and we, and I, am deeply flawed. Sin and shame run deep and ugly in the family lineage of mankind. But I believe in a story with a redeemed ending. There is a King who is coming to reign, whose reign has already begun. And I want to seek that kingdom-come in my everyday life. I want to seek the story of redemption that I believe echos throughout the world around us. I refuse to expect the bad ending, because I believe the story is already over and the battle is won and the ending is redeemed. So I, like Lizzy, am recognizing my own skepticism and prejudice (although that does not mean I am laying down my intelligence or wit). I’m stopping trying to understand why the tree is big. Instead, I’m letting myself be moved by the awe and beauty surrounding me. Because it’s ok to acknowledge that life is beautiful, and take naps in the sunny spot on the floor ( yet another resemblance I have to a golden retriever).
Here are some related videos for your viewing pleasure. The first one is probably not the best idea for younger viewers. Also, if you ever want to see me completely lose my mind, watch P&P with me (although my favorite on isn’t accurate to the book at all. But I can’t resist Matthew Macfadyen).