Someone said today that he compartmentalized his life to the point that he is running out of compartments. Boy, could I ever relate! It reminds me of the cubbies that we had in kindergarten where we stashed our lunchboxes, prized items for show and tell, our blankies for nap time, coats and mittens, only as an adult I have a compartment for work, play, health, relationships, home, money, creativity, writing, reading, car, losses, challenges and more, I’m sure. I would like to think that I neatly stash them, folded and pressed like so many clean sheets. I could never master the art of folding the fitted sheet, and in much the same way, I can’t seem to keep all of those aspects of my life from lopping over the edges of the compartments and merging with the others.
Take grief, for example. I have attempted to maintain it in its nice, safe little box, having been widowed at 40 and now an adult orphan since my dad died in 2008 and my mom joined him in 2010. In the service of keepin’ on keepin’ on, I packaged up my feelings of grief and wrapped it up with a pretty bow (sky blue pink with a yellow border as my mother used to say whenever someone asked her favorite color) that looks like functionality, working with other people’s losses rather than facing my own, counseling other bereaved folks rather than denying that mine aren’t so bad, since my parents taught me how to be resilient and it was their time and they had lived full, rich lives and weren’t suffering anymore. I write about them regularly and think about them multiple times throughout the day. It is a blessing to be able to put fingers to keyboard to assuage my grief and yet, a good cry wouldn’t be such a bad thing at times. I wonder what keeps me from just letting the tears flow. It feels surrealistic at times to think that they are not here physically, even as I feel their presence a good deal of the time.
I’m task oriented so as to keep the various aspects of my busy life in alignment, moving sometimes seamlessly from one to another, congratulating myself for the simplest things such as folding clothes, emptying the dishwasher, putting gas in the Jeep, driving to my counseling job, writing this article as I check them off the ever growing list of to-do’s. When unanticipated items jump into the empty spaces, I dispatch them as well.
Seems to me that it is about balance so that when (as I mentioned in a previous blog entry) life gets lifey, I have room to hold it all. A place for everything and everything in its place.